Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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L.A. Lensing Marks 2nd Strongest Year On Record
Paul Audley

On-location filming in the Greater Los Angeles region achieved its second best year on record in 2017, according to data released by FilmL.A.

Last year on-location filming decreased 3.4 percent (from 39,627 Shoot Days to 38,284 Shoot Days) for a second-place annual finish compared to 2016. Meanwhile, according to new data, L.A. area sound stage occupancy remains above 92 percent.

FilmL.A.’s longest-running reporting effort, focused on production that takes place on-location within its service area, determined that filming levels in 2017 remained high despite finishing below 2016 totals.

On-location television production finished 2.1 percent above its five-year rolling average in 2017, despite slipping 7.6 percent (to 15,218 SD) compared to the prior year.

TV dramas ended last year 11.2 percent over the category’s five-year average, slipping 1.3 percent (to 4,385 SD) year over year. A 21.3 percent fourth-quarter increase helped, as did the California Film and TV Tax Credit program which continues to sustain local production. TV dramas saw 1,401 incentive-linked Shoot Days in 2017, which accounted for 32 percent of all activity for the year.

“Our ability to achieve and sustain a high level of production over the past few years is substantially due to the California Film and Television Tax Credit—which is creating thousands of jobs and returning high economic benefits to California,” said Paul Audley, FilmL.A. president.

Incentive-linked TV projects that filmed in 2017 included This Is Us, SWAT, Westworld, Lucifer, Shooter and the TV pilot project, Mayans.

On-location TV comedy production decreased 12.8 percent in 2017 (to 2,155 SD). TV pilot production also decreased 40.2 percent (to 441 SD). FilmL.A. analysts attribute the pilot decline to the significant number of scripted television series already available through broadcast, cable, and digital channels. 

Television subcategories ineligible for state incentives also decreased compared to 2016, including TV reality (down 8.3 percent to 4,383 SD), and web-based TV production (down 9.2 percent to 1,918 SD).

Meanwhile, on-location feature production decreased in 2017 (down 19.8 percent to 3,901 SD). FilmL.A. analysts note that while the total number of feature shoot days is down, the economic value of projects in this category may be increasing over time. Feature projects that qualify for California’s Film & Television Tax Credit tend to generate larger job and spending impacts than non-incentive-linked projects. In 2017, 61 feature projects filmed in Los Angeles, including 19 incentive-linked projects with a cast and crew count above 75 persons on-location. This is nearly twice the number of incentive-linked, similarly-sized projects the region captured in 2016. Incentive-linked features filming on-location in Los Angeles included Destroyer, A Wrinkle In Time, Bumblebee and Ad Astra.

Commercial production increased 9 percent in 2017 (to 5,548 SD) compared to the prior year. This is the strongest annual showing for commercials that FilmL.A. has ever observed.

In November 2017, FilmL.A. released its first comprehensive analysis of production occurring on certified sound stages in Greater Los Angeles. The analysis was made possible with the help of 12 studio partners (Culver Studios, Walt Disney Studios, Fox Studios, Los Angeles Center Studios, MBS Media Campus, Occidental Studios, Sunset Gower & Sunset Bronson Studios, Raleigh Studios, Sony Picture Studios, Warner Bros. Studios and Paramount Studios). Together, these partners control nearly 70 percent of the certified stage properties available for use in L.A.

During the first six months of 2017, the overall occupancy rate at studio partner facilities was 92 percent. During this time, scripted television series (including both one-hour and half-hour series) accounted for 63 percent of total stage and backlot-based film activity, generating 2,982 SD. Next came TV talk shows, with 753 SD, or 16 percent, of total stage activity. 

New Mexico Milestone
This past December marked the beginning of a yearlong celebration for New Mexico, commemorating the 120th year of filming in the state. Events extending throughout 2018 will recognize the milestone.

Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office, said,  “For 120 years, New Mexico has been at the heart of the film industry. We are continuing to build on that strong tradition by attracting new productions to New Mexico and creating the film industry’s greatest economic impact in New Mexico history, three years in a row.”

The film industry contributed over half a billion dollars of direct spending into the state’s economy last year.

The Highwaymen starts production in Louisiana
Netflix announced that The Highwaymen from director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder) commenced principal photography in Louisiana. The feature film is produced by Casey Silver Productions, with Casey Silver (Godless, Mosaic) serving as producer. The cast is led by Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner (Molly’s Game, Hidden Figures), Academy Award® nominee Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Hunger Games series), Academy Award® winner Kathy Bates (Disjointed, The Blind Side), John Carroll Lynch (The Founder, American Horror Story), Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Fear of the Walking Dead (tv series)), Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Kong: Skull Island), and William Sadler (Power (tv series), The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist). The Highwaymen is written by John Fusco (Hidalgo, The Forbidden Kingdom), Academy Award® nominee Scott Frank (Godless, Out of Sight, Logan) and Hancock. 

Based on true events, the movie introduces us to Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and ex-partner Maney Gault who are drawn out of retirement in a last-ditch effort to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde. The Netflix Film is slated for release this year.

Serbia ups film incentives
Serbia has increased its film incentive program, now offering a 25% direct cast rebate for lensing in the country.

After supporting 28 projects in 2017, the Ministry of Economy decided to double the annual budget to 6,7 million EUR available in 2018, while minimum threshold and relevant entry criteria stay the same for most categories. The only change is related to TV series that are required to have minimum spending per episode of 100.000 EUR. 

The Ministry of Economy reports that in 2016, the total amount of production in Serbia amounted to 20,8 million eur (2,5 billion dinars) and in 2017 the total amount of investments made in film production was 31,9 million EUR (3,8 billion dinnars) which proved the effectiveness of the incentives initiative. With these successes in mind, the government has committed to building on these successes and ensuring that Serbia remains an attractive destination for filming of all kinds of entertainment media content.  

The program also applies to TV commercials with a total of 17 international advertising projects shot in 2017. 

The list of projects successfully completed in 2017 includes McMafia (BBC premieres on February 28, serviced by Work in Progress), Intrigo trilogy by Daniel Alfredson and Extinction (Universal Pictures, serviced by Work in Progress) and Incoming (Bennatar/Thomas, serviced by Red Production) together with South Indian blockbuster Vivegam (serviced by Clockwork Film production).

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