Los Angeles On-Location Production Dropped 32% In 2023 Amid Dual Strikes, FilmLA Says

FilmLA said Tuesday that on-location production in the city and county of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions was down more than 32% in 2023, and Q4 even more, as the Hollywood industry continues to recover from two industry labor strikes and a persistent post-Covid production decline in the region.

The film-permit office said Q4 2023 saw 5,220 shoot days, down 36.4% year over year, marking four consecutive quarters of double-digit declines. Overall, there were 24,873 shooting days in 2023, according to FilmLA data, compared with 36,792 shoot days in 2022, 37,709 in 2021 and 36,540 in 2019. See the report here.

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The Writers Guild went out on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on May 2, with SAG-AFTRA following beginning July 14. The WGA struck for 148 days before reaching a deal September 27; SAG-AFTRA was out for 118 days and reached a deal November 9.

It was the first dual Hollywood strike in 60 years and came less than three years after on-location production in Los Angeles shuttered completely due to the Covid pandemic. FilmLA’s numbers have seen downward trends since 2016, when overall regional film production levels peaked at 39,627 shooting days.

“History offers no point of comparison to the present,” FilmLA president Paul Audley said Tuesday. “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.

“Everyone we are speaking to is eager to see production resume,” he said, as film FilmLA cited several TV productions eyeing production starts this month including “dozens” of projects that have qualifying for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program. “Even as it does, we’ll remain in uncharted territory. We have months to go before we can describe what the new normal looks like for filming in L.A.”

See the full report below.

While post-strike production was able to resume by mid-November, FilmLA said only a handful of continuing TV series other than late-night shows went directly back to work before year’s end; hitting up against the year-end holidays likely didn’t help. As a result, overall Television production was down 54.3% for the quarter and 43.8% for the year at 9,430 shooting days. Within that, Reality TV, television’s biggest subset at 75% of all shooting days and not impacted by the strikes, was still down 29.2% for Q4 and 28.1% for 2023. In Q4, strike-impacted Drama was off 91.3% and TV Comedy off 85.6%.

Feature film production was off 57.5% in Q4 to 323 shooting days, with most feature projects moving forward over the summer smaller fare working under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements. Three indie pics were associated with the California tax credit program (Hurricana, Shell and Starstruck) but added a total of only 28 shoot days combined.

Citing “runaway production” impact, FilmLA also said Q4 saw a 9.9% drop year over year in filming for web and television Commercials. The categories of Still Photography, Student Films, Documentaries, Music and Industrial Videos and other projects was down 20.7% year over year.

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