01/09/2013 02:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

TV, Film Production In Los Angeles Up 4.7 Percent In 2012, But Situation Remains Dire


Television dramas and reality shows were dark spots in an otherwise upbeat FilmL.A. report on production in the region last year.

Overall, permitted production days in the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas coordinated by the not-for-profit organization were up 4.7 percent in 2012 over 2011. There were 46,254 PPDs last year compared to 45,484 in the previous one.

The big-spending TV drama category, however, was down 20 percent from 2011 and reality shows slipped 11.8 percent.

The overall television category fell 3.4 percent, mitigated by an increase in on-location sitcom production.

"We know that part of the decline in our TV drama figures stems from producers' desire to cut costs by filming more on studio back-lots and soundstages," Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A., said in a press release.

The organization's figures do not include days shot on industry properties.

"Unfortunately, last year we also saw a record number of new TV drama series shot out of state, resulting in negative economic consequences."

That's due, as has long been the case, to the more generous, less restrictive and longer-established economic and tax incentives many other states offer, compared to California's.

In a telephone interview, Audley elaborated on why the situation is so dire.

"The 20 percent down for TV drama is a record since we've been keeping statistics," he said. "TV dramas are one of the most valuable economic engines to us, and to see a 20 percent drop should frighten the people of greater L.A.

"They last longer (than most other kinds of productions)," Audley said of multi-episode, mostly hourlong shows. "They have more long-term positions and they hire more people. And truthfully, most of their budgets, probably, are bigger than a lot of the small independent films that are now making up the majority of feature work in L.A."

Continuing a multi-year trend, commercials saw the highest uptick in production last year, 8,078 PPD over 2011's 7,079, a 14.1 percent rise.

Feature film shoots went up 3.7 percent, with 5,892 PPD in 2012 versus the previous year's 5,682. State tax credits were given, well, credit for some of that, with productions such as "Gangster Squad," Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" and "Dark Skies" taking advantage of the incentives.

Other significant features that shot in the region last year were the next "Star Trek" movie and Jason Bateman's comedy "Bad Words."

Even that, though, seems pretty paltry for the movie capital of the world.

"I think it's a catastrophe," said Sharon Hardee Jimenez, founder of the three-year-old Bring Hollywood Home Foundation, a nonprofit, grass-roots group "dedicated to education and support in the fight for production incentives in order to end the outflow of independent film and television industry jobs from California," according to its website.

"It's an indication that we remain non-competitive in California in our business models and tax credit incentives in order to keep production here," Jimenez continued. "I know groups like FilmL.A. are doing the best they can, but the problem is that we are not serious about keeping the industry here. There is not a serious effort."

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