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A clearer picture of the impact on production caused by the ongoing actors strike and the recently resolved writers strike is coming into focus, with filming in Los Angeles down by nearly half compared to the same period last year.
The decline marks the seventh consecutive quarterly filming drop, which has been driven largely by productions increasingly electing in recent years to shoot in other states with more generous tax credit programs. Filming for TV shows saw the steepest dip. The little local, on-location shooting that the region saw came mostly from reality TV and independent titles granted interim waivers to film amid the strike.
The report from FilmLA reflects the first full quarter that accounts for the strikes. The agency said that the three-month period from July to September saw 5,311 shoot days, which represents a roughly 41 percent decline from the same quarter last year. FilmLA noted that the “contract disputes were not the sole cause of the downward trend as overall, on-location filming in the region” has been continuously declining since 2021.
The sharpest dropoff came from the near complete shutdown of shooting for scripted TV, which drives the most filming in Los Angeles, since May. TV production posted just 2,225 shoot days — a 50 percent decline from the second quarter last year. Overall, the category has declined for three straight quarters since the start of 2023.
Shooting for reality TV shows proved a sustaining force in the third quarter, with 2,166 shoot days. Roughly 97 percent of all TV filming for the period came from reality series, comprising nearly 41 percent of all on-location shooting that occurred in the third quarter. While the figure represents an estimated 23 percent decrease compared to the same period last year, it’s also nearly 22 percent higher than the five-year average. Local TV reality productions included Basketball Wives (VH1), Real Murders of Los Angeles (Oxygen), Side Hustlers (Roku) and Vanderpump Rules (Bravo).
TV dramas and comedies, meanwhile, saw a combined 14 shoot days. The categories are on track to post a fraction of last year’s production. No filming took place by projects receiving tax credits to shoot in California or TV pilots.
Feature film production also posted steep drop-offs, with an estimated 55 percent decrease in the third quarter. Most projects that shot in Los Angeles were independent productions, including those granted interim agreements by SAG-AFTRA. They included Adult Best Friends, Don’t Trip, Eyes in the Trees, From Ashes, Isaac, Lake George, Roses on the Vine, and Who Says You Can’t Go Home.
Commercial production continued its decline from last quarter, dropping nearly 26 percent compared to the same period last year. While the category isn’t directly impacted by the strikes, FilmLA said that “loss of production to rival jurisdiction is an ongoing concern.” Filming for commercials is down roughly 43 percent compared to the five-year quarterly average.
In an analysis of scripted production, FilmLA found 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.
“The change our industry has undergone over the past few years is profound,” said FilmLA President Paul Audley in a statement. “Here, in a moment where many predict a reduction in industry output, this study establishes a baseline for us to understand the challenges ahead.”
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