FilmLA Reports Record 1st Quarter For On-Location Lensing 
Paul Audley
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FilmLA, partner film office for the City and County of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions, has issued an update regarding regional filming activity.

On-location film production in Greater Los Angeles saw a strong start this year, setting a new first quarter record with 9,832 Shoot Days (SD). The last time FilmLA reported such high filming levels from January through March was in 2016, with 9,725 SD.

“The potential for another COVID-related cutback had us eyeing the first quarter with concern,” recalled FilmLA president Paul Audley. “But with strong protective protocols in place, the industry was in a good position to weather the post-holiday Omicron surge.”

Though the pace of production slowed somewhat compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, industry output was much higher in early 2022 than it was in the prior year, when the spread of the Delta variant led to a voluntary filming hiatus that slowed production to just 7,011 SD. Filming activity in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 40.2 percent over the same period in 2021.

Driving the increase, once again, is the television category (up 18.7 percent over the same period last year to 4,470 SD), especially the TV drama and TV reality categories. Episodic dramas were down -12.3 percent year-over-year compared to 2021 (1,279 vs. 1,459 SD) but still 8.6 percent above the five-year category average. TV drama series that filmed locally include American Horror Stories (FX), Little America (Apple TV+), Perry Mason (HBO), Promised Land (ABC/Hulu), S.W.A.T. (CBS), and The Flight Attendant (HBO Max).

The California Film & Television Tax Credit program, overseen by the California Film Commission, is a significant driver of local TV drama activity. Episodic TV dramas participating in this program generated 499 SD for the quarter--representing 39 percent of all activity in the category.

Growth continues in the TV reality category, with a 71.7 percent quarterly increase (2,600 vs. 1,514 SD) and 139 percent gain over the five-year category average. TV reality projects that filmed locally include Basketball Wives, Celebrity IOU, Family or Fiancé and People Magazine Investigates.

TV comedy production increased by 8.4 percent (259 vs. 239 SD) compared to the same period last year, but the category lags its five-year average by -45.5 percent. Series in this category included Hacks (HBO Max), Home Economics (ABC), Made for Love (HBO Max), and Rutherford Falls (Peacock).

The TV pilot category witnessed a steeper decline of -38.1 percent (60 vs. 97 SD), and an even greater loss of -68.9 percent compared to the five-year average. Because L.A. remains a destination of choice for television producers, analysts believe the decrease is due to changes in the way straight-to-series television projects are permitted.

Although generally less beneficial from a job creation standpoint, FilmLA’s “Other” production category--which primarily consists of still photography shoots and student films, but also includes music and industrial videos, documentaries, and miscellaneous categories of production--posted a 115.1 percent gain year over year (3,608 vs. 1,677 SD), and a 17.7 percent increase over the five-year average.

Filming of television and internet commercials finished up 16.8 percent over the first quarter of 2021 (1,160 vs 993 SD), but down -17.4 percent versus the five-year average. Companies and services such as, AT&T and Beats shot spots locally last quarter.

Despite a slight uptick in feature film production compared to last year (594 vs. 575 SDs), the sector remains -25.2 percent below its five-year category average. Locally filmed projects include Home Delivery, Love Me to Death, Rooming with Danger, and Netflix’s Me Time. Projects connected to the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program generated 26 SD for the quarter, or 4.4 percent of all project activity.


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