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Los Angeles Film and TV Production Approached Lowest-Ever Levels Amid Strikes

Hollywood’s historic season of strikes decimated filming in Los Angeles, with the region recording close to the lowest production levels on record.

The decline marks the fourth consecutive quarterly shooting drop, capping off a year in which filming was blocked for over four months. Filming for TV shows, long a mainstay in Los Angeles, saw the steepest dip.

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The report from FilmLA reflects the last quarter that accounts for the strikes. The agency said that the three-month period from October to December saw 5,520 shoot days, which represents a roughly 36 percent decline from the same quarter last year. The work stoppages from the WGA and SAG-AFTRA concluded on Sept. 27 and Nov. 9 respectively.

FilmLA noted that the resolution of the strikes “came too late for production to pick up by year’s end,” though runaway production is also a factor. On-location filming in Los Angeles has been continuously declining since 2021 as productions increasingly elect to shoot in other states with more generous tax credits.

In a statement, FilmLA President Paul Audley said, “The pandemic year aside, we have to look very far back – farther back than permit records allow – to find a time when production levels stayed so low, for so long.”

After the writers strike concluded, late night talks shows immediately returned in full force, with the hope that other scripted TV could return before the year’s end. But once able to resume filming at the start of the quarter, only a handful of returning series attempted to shoot new episodes. TV production posted just 1,707 shoot days — a 54 percent decline from same period last year. Overall, filming for the category was down nearly 44 percent.

In an analysis of scripted production, FilmLA found last year that Los Angeles remains the top filming location in the country for scripted content but that growth in the region’s total shooting levels remained flat from 2021 to 2022. Other areas, like Georgia and the U.K. meanwhile, saw considerably more growth.

Most shooting for TV projects came from reality series. Though it posted figures reflecting a 28 percent drop-off for the year, it comprised roughly 76 percent of all shooting. Local reality productions included Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Death in the Dorms (Hulu), Master Chef (Fox), Selling Sunset (Netflix) and Murder in the Heartland (Investigation Discovery).

Production for dramas and comedies were far and few in between, logging a 91 percent and 86 percent decline respectively. Dozens of projects selected to receive tax credits to shoot in California, however, are expected to restart in January. The shows expected to start filming the soonest: Loot (Apple TV+), The Family Business (BET+), Quantum Leap (NBC), The Rookie (ABC), S.W.A.T. (CBS), and Unstable (Netflix).

Feature film production similarly plunged, with a roughly 57 percent decrease to 323 shoot days compared to the same period last year. Most titles that filmed during the summer were smaller, independent productions, among others that were greenlighted under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements. They included Hurricana, Shell and Starstruck.

Even as production resumes, Audley cautions, “We’ll remain in uncharted territory.” He adds, “We have months to go before we can describe what the new normal looks like for filming in LA.”

And while they were unaffected by the strikes, filming for web and TV commercials continued to slip last quarter, with close to a ten percent year-over-year decline. Production for smaller, lower-cost shoots such as still photography, documentaries and music videos also decreased, finishing more than 20 percent down for the year.

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