TV and Tax Incentives Boost Third Quarter Filming in Los Angeles

Location filming in the Los Angeles region increased three percent to 9,795 shoot days in the third quarter of 2016. That’s a record number of shoot days for a July through September period since FilmL.A., the official film office for the City and County of Los Angeles and 20 other local jurisdictions, started its current tracking system in 2010.

Television production was the driver for the overall increase, up 2.7 percent over 2015’s third quarter with 4,423 shoot days. However, feature film production was down 5 percent and commercials were off 2.6 percent from the summer of last year. Additionally, the TV growth was biggest in the reality and web-based subsectors, which spend far less locally than do dramas and comedies, both of which saw percentage drops from last year.

“The mixed results we see from last quarter in film production in Los Angeles County remind us of the need to be determined and aggressive in keeping filming here,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe said in a press release accompanying the FilmL.A. results. “Be it film, television, commercials or web-based production, all have an impact on thousands of direct jobs and indirect jobs which support the industry.”

That said, California’s recently improved Film and TV Tax Credit program, designed to keep more spending and jobs in-state instead of going to runaway production havens like Georgia and Canada, had a noticeably positive effect on the latest numbers.

Such incentive-qualified TV projects as “American Horror Story,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Pitch,” “Scream Queens,” “This Is Us” and “Westworld” shot in Southern California this summer. Four features, including the California-set “CHiPs” and George Clooney’s “Suburbicon” took advantage of the tax credit. Incentivized shoot days made up 25 percent of the third quarter total in the TV drama category, more than 23 percent in TV comedy and less than nine percent of feature film days.

“California’s film incentive is now helping to sustain local TV production after seven straight quarters of growth,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley pointed out in the press release. “We knew we’d see a leveling off as the program reached full utilization. With the program doing all it can to support filming in California, our focus is on the neighborhoods where filming happens and on managing the activity taking place.”

FilmL.A. defines a shoot day as “one crew’s permission to film at one or more defined locations during all or part of any given 24-hour period.” It doesn’t include work on studio lots, soundstages or other private filming facilities, but is the best measure available to chart local production activity.

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