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On-location filming jumps 15% in 2010, but L.A. still not out of the woods


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On-location filming jumps 15% in 2010, but L.A. still not out of the woods

2010dataLos Angeles recorded significant gains in on-location filming activity in 2010, powered by economic recovery, a revival in television comedies and state tax credits that helped to lure new business.

But even with the increased activity, feature production remained less than half what it was in 1996, underscoring the long-term challenges L.A. faces as it struggles to keep movies and TV shows from leaving Southern California, according to data from FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the city and many unincorporated areas of the county.

FilmL.A. recorded 43,646 total production days in 2010, up 15% from 2009. A production day is defined as a single crew’s permission to film a project at a single location in a 24-hour period. Overall activity rose 26% in the fourth quarter over the same period in 2009.

Though the data do not track filming on major studio lots, it’s viewed as a barometer of overall economic activity in L.A.’s entertainment sector, which employs more than 200,000 people.

The upswing signaled a continued recovery from the pummeling the sector took in 2009, when production posted its steepest annual drop on record as studios cut back the number of films they released, advertisers shot far fewer commercials and filmmakers took their business to other states that offered more attractive tax credits and rebates.

Leading the growth was commercial shoots, which saw a 28% increase in production days last year, the category’s largest year-over-year increase since tracking began in 1993. The year’s total of 6,778 production days was the highest since commercial production reached its peak in 2005.

Though growth slowed in the fourth quarter, climbing only 2.5%, the year was marked by an increase in orders for spots by Chrysler, Verizon and AT&T and other advertisers amid signs of an improving economy.

On-location television shoots also mounted an impressive comeback, increasing 50% in the fourth quarter and 12% for the year for a total of 17,833 production days.

The gains were fueled by a continued growth in reality TV programming, which rose 47% with 7,341 production days, making it the single largest TV category; and sitcoms, which rose 78% for the year, including 227% in the fourth quarter.

TV comedies have been making a comeback, thanks to the popularity of such shows as ABC’s “Modern Family” and FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which are L.A.-based. New sitcoms shooting locally include MTV’s “The Hard Times of RJ Berger,” Showtime’s “Shameless” and NBC’s “The Paul Reiser Show.”

However, TV dramas fell 19% for the year, reflecting the cancelling of such shows as Fox’s “24” and NBC’s “Heroes.”

Feature films rose 8% for the year and 28% for the fourth quarter with the increases attributed to the state’s film tax credit program, which took effect in mid-2009. The program provides a 20% to 25% credit on qualified production expenses and can be used to offset state income or sale tax liabilities.

The state program attracted dozens of movies to L.A. last year, including the upcoming releases“Rampart,” “The Good Doctor,” produced by and starring Orlando Bloom, and Walt Disney’s “The Muppets,” with tax-incentive productions accounting for a quarter of all production days in the year.

Despite the improvement, the number of feature film production days in 2010 — 5,378 —  was still down 62% from its peak in 1996, reflecting L.A.’s  loss of market share, not only to foreign cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, but also to other U.S. locations, notably Detroit, New Orleans and New York.

In response to the migration, city officials and film promoters have been grappling with ways to keep filming at home, including recently launching a marketing campaign touting the industry’s economic benefits to the L.A. economy.

— Richard Verrier

Photo: Ed O’Neill, left, Rico Rodriguez and Sofia Vergara in the L.A.-based “Modern Family.” Credit: Adam Larkey / ABC





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February 22, 2011 Posted by | antelope valley commercial production, antelope valley film production, antelope valley filming locations, north la county film production, north la county tv production | , , , , | Leave a comment

Silver screen means jobs for Golden State

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth's picture


Assembly Republican Caucus Chair representing the 38th Assembly District


The California Film and Television Tax Credit has proven to be a wildly successful case of the state working with businesses to keep jobs (and over $2 billion in direct spending) right here in California. But not all critics are impressed.

Prior to the Film and Television Tax Credit, “runaway production” had cost California over 10,600 jobs in film, TV and commercial production, and more than 25,000 related jobs, according to a report by The Milken Institute, a nonprofit economic think tank.

Unfortunately, taking our allies of commerce for granted is not a new attitude. The flight of film production, like so many other industries, is part of a distinctly Californian trend. To illustrate, forty years ago California was the hub of our nation’s aerospace industry. Thousands of Californians—with varying skill sets and education levels—could count on on well-paying, high quality aerospace jobs. Twenty years later, my friends and I grew up believing that we would have similar job opportunities in the entertainment industry.

But as California now struggles to maintain its place as the country’s entertainment capital, history threatens to repeat itself. Businesses and jobs are again chased away by our state’s overly aggressive regulatory environment, high taxes, and growing competition from other states. The promise of both industries remains endangered.

To battle this trend, legislators from across the state came together in 2009 and passed legislation to re-energize the film and television production industry. In fact, it was more successful than any of us imagined.

In the past two years, the California Film Commission has allocated about $300 million in tax credits to 100 projects. These incentives have brought in an estimated $2 billion in direct spending to California communities, including $736 million in wages paid to “below-the-line” crew members (electricians, grips, drivers, costumers), according to data compiled by the Film Commission.

That’s 18,200 crew and 4,000 cast members hired by the approved projects. An additional 113,000 individuals will be employed on a day-to-day basis as background players. This includes dry cleaners, caterers, florists, and construction workers, among many other neighborhood businesses in our communities.

The Los Angeles Times recently hailed aspects of this program as the “model for how the Legislature should approach corporate tax breaks.”

But as any artist knows, critics, by trade, will always find something to criticize.

Dan Morain, editorial writer at the Sacramento Bee, recently suggested that the film and television tax credit remains popular largely due to the “well-orchestrated lobby effort” put forth by “organized labor” and “[e]ntertainment conglomerates.” These subsidies, Mr. Morain continues, move us closer to tax hikes, classrooms and welfare cuts, and—by an argument noteworthy for creativity—a step backwards for the anti-smoking movement (as tax credits may go to films that “glamorize smoking”).

Suggesting that a widespread lobby effort is necessary to convince the lawmakers to maintain a quantifiably successful jobs program is a tough sell. It is equally a stretch to argue that California’s budget woes are gravely worsened by the Film Commission’s measurable and substantial return on investment. And of course, Mr. Morain’s public health criticism is as immaterial as his subtle derision towards the light-hearted films the credits supported. A film job is still a job, regardless of whether its award statue reads “Razzie” or “Oscar.”

Finally, Mr. Morain points out that Iowa and Missouri are both questioning their film credit programs; in the latter case due to the credit serving “too narrow of an industry.” Thankfully, film and TV production is not a narrow industry in California. In this competitive market we should now, more than ever, stay the course and bring the jobs home.

This tax credit is one of many ladders to help our state climb out of the fiscal ditch we have dug for ourselves by pushing away businesses and jobs.

Expanding the breadth and longevity of the Film and Television Tax Credit is a necessary step to ensuring this industry continues to thrive by investing our world-class workforce.

January 28, 2011 Posted by | antelope valley commercial production, antelope valley film production, antelope valley tv production, north la county film production | , , , , | Leave a comment