L.A. Film Productions Post Strong First Quarter, Up 40% From 2021

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FilmLA has reported a strong first quarter as on-location film production in the LA region recorded 9,832 shoot days. The last time filming numbers were that high was in 2016, which reported 9,725 shoot days.

“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.”

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Filming activity in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 40.2 percent over the same period in 2021. 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 shoot days.

The television category also saw an increase, up 18.7 percent over the same period last year to 4,470 shoot days, especially the drama and reality categories.

Episodic dramas were down 12.3 percent year-over-year compared to 2021 (1,279 vs. 1,459 shoot days) but still 8.6 percent above the five-year category average. TV drama series that filmed locally included “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 shoot days for the quarter — representing 39 percent of all activity in the category.

Reality TV also saw an increase, with a 71.7 percent quarterly increase (2,600 vs. 1,514 shoot days) and 139 percent gain over the five-year category average. TV Reality projects that were filmed locally include “Basketball Wives,” “Celebrity IOU,” “Family or Fiancé” and “People Magazine Investigates.”

Similarly, TV comedies saw an increase of 8.4 percent (259 vs. 239 shoot days) compared to the same period last year, but the category lags behind 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 shoot days), and an even greater loss of 68.9 percent compared to the five-year average. Because LA 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.

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
shoot days), and a 17.7 percent increase over the five-year average.

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