A seasonal increase across several film production categories arrived too late to satisfy FilmLA’s high expectations for 2019, which published its fourth-quarter report Friday.
The nonprofit organization said in key categories, including feature films, TV dramas, TV comedies and web-based TV, on-location production was more robust from October through December than in any of the three prior quarters.
However, overall production declined 5% in the fourth quarter of 2019, from 10,359 shoot days in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 9,839 shoot days in 2019.
FilmLA analysts said 2019 came up short, in part, because the final quarter of 2018 was the most productive period recorded by the nonprofit in more than 25 years.
In FilmLA’s television category, TV comedy production increased 39.4% and web-based TV increased 36% for the quarter. TV pilot production also increased 33.3%. TV drama production declined 9.7% due to fewer shows and fewer production days for recurring shows. Several major recurring series like “Ballers,” “Legion,” “Strange Angel” and “The Affair” ended production over the past two quarters. Reality TV production declined 4.4% in the fourth quarter.
Overall, on-location TV drama production finished the entire year 2.7% below 2018 levels, but still 3.6% ahead of its five-year category average, FilmLA stated.
“Whenever we publish new permit data, it raises similar questions,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said. “`Is the state incentive working?’ some ask, and `What’s happening with runaway production?’ It’s important to remember that California is locked in a permanent competition against global rivals for film and television projects and jobs.
“California’s film incentive reliably brings L.A. around 30% more TV drama production, and around 13% more feature film production than we would have without the program,” Audley added. “Entertainment unions are reporting ample work opportunities for local crews. Soundstage occupancy is high. These are all important considerations when evaluating the health of this business.”
A sampling of recent incentivized television projects includes “American Horror Story: 1984,” “Good Girls,” “Good Trouble,” “This is Us” and more.
Feature film production declined 2.4% in the fourth quarter compared to 2018, but it was the only quarter of 2019 that did not decline by double-digit percentages.
Commercial production, which is ineligible for incentive support, also declined, by 7.9%, in the fourth quarter. Commercials struggled throughout 2019 to match 2018’s record yield.
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