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Tax Incentives Boost On-Location Filming In L.A. To Record Levels

Deadline logo Deadline 1/17/2017 David Robb
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On-location film and TV production hit record levels in Los Angeles last year – at least in recent years – thanks in large part to the state’s upgraded $330 million annual film incentives program. On-location feature film production was up 6.2% over 2015, and on-location TV production was up 4.8%, despite a weak fourth quarter.

Last year, L.A. saw 39,605 on-location shooting days, defined as one crew’s permission to film at one or more locations served by FilmLA, the city’s film permit office, during a 24-hour period. The data does not include on-the-lot filming at the major studios and networks or on certified soundstages.

That’s an increase of nearly 10,000 shooting days from 2011 – an increase of nearly 33% — when the state incentives were a third of what they are now.

Feature filming, with 4,868 shooting days last year, was up for the first time in three years last year, making 2016 the strongest year for feature production in L.A. since California introduced its first film incentive program in 2009.

According to FilmLA, 15% of the production in this category was generated by film projects that qualified for the state’s tax incentives. Incentivized film projects that shot here last year include A Wrinkle in Time, Bright, Magic Camp, Miles and Suburbicon.

Television production, meanwhile, has seen steady gains in each of the past six years. On-location shooting of TV comedies more than doubled since 2011, TV dramas were up by more than 50% last year compared to 2011, and TV pilots were up nearly 46% last year compared to five years ago.

According to FilmLA, 39% of the shooting days for TV dramas and 11% of the shooting days for TV comedies were generated last year by projects enrolled in the state’s incentives program. Incentivized dramas include American Crime, Animal Kingdom, Code Black, American Horror Story, Major Crimes, Pitch, Pure Genius, Rebel, Scream Queens, Snowfall, Teen Wolf and This Is Us. Incentivized comedies include Veep, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and the upcoming I’m Dying Up Here.

“It is gratifying to see feature film work and related jobs returning to Los Angeles,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “Although L.A. now has permanent competitors in this space, the incentive is working as intended in bringing exciting new projects to the area.” (See more charts from FilmLA here.)

Web-based TV shows, which aren’t afforded tax incentives, have shown enormous gains in recent years – more than tripling since 2011 — and now last year account for nearly as many shooting days (2,113) as TV comedies (2,472) and nearly three-times the shooting days of TV pilots (738).

TV reality shows, which also aren’t covered by the incentives, continued a downward slide, hitting hit a four-year low last year, with 4,780 days of shooting. Even so, that’s still more than TV dramas and nearly twice as much as TV comedies.

Commercials, the single largest sector, hit a three-year low, falling to 5,090 shooting days last year from 5,201 the year before. They’re also not covered by the incentives.

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