Movie and TV production in Los Angeles returned to pre-pandemic levels during the second quarter 0f 2021 according to Los Angeles filming organization FilmLA on Thursday, restoring one of California’s largest and most notable industries.
According to FilmLA, 9,791 shoot days of movie and TV productions were recorded between April and June of this year, breaking the pre-COVID monthly average of 9,253 shoot days and having the highest quarter total in two years. It also marks a stunning turnaround from 2020 Q2 total in LA, which only recorded 194 shoot dates due to the COVID-19 lockdown suspending most productions.
On-location TV show shoots in particular saw a huge jump, with FilmLA recording 4,913 such shoot days in Q2 2021, a gigantic leap from pre-COVID figures, such as Q2 2019, which only had 3,360 such shoots. While on-location film shoots are still a bit down from pre-pandemic levels of a 1,137 shoot date per quarter average, with Q2 2021 only having 824 shoot dates, current trends show that LA filming will meet that average soon enough, especially with incoming tax credits spurring more productions.
While some productions have since halted again since the COVID delta variant surge since last month, the number of productions in LA remains high.
“By almost any available measure, the second quarter was good for filming in Los Angeles,” said FilmLA President Paul Audley in a statement. “With local COVID-19 cases rising it’s not clear whether that will be sustainable, but the industry’s commitment to community, cast and crew safety remains firmly in place.”
The entertainment industry, one of the largest employment sectors in Los Angeles County and part of one of the top ten economic sectors in California, Film and TV productions are also a major source of local cash injection for many places in California, with film and TV shoots spending as much as $250,000 per day in local economies through rentals, food, permit costs, and numerous other ways. The industry also supplied California with one of the few major economic growth areas of 2020 due to the rapid growth of the streaming market, with most streaming companies being based in California.
Ramped up productions signal return of Film, TV industry in California
Film and TV production tax credits have also played a major role in the return of the industry. According to FilmLA, 9.3% of all film shoots and almost 20% of TV drama shoots in Q2 2021 in the state were tax credit-backed. As a result, productions have been flooding back into California from Florida, Georgia, British Columbia, and places as far away as Australia and the Czech Republic, all of whom had originally offered tax credits themselves to entice productions in the 2010s.
“Those tax credits are really starting to show their usefulness now,” noted filming accountant Patrice Weiss to the Globe on Friday. “California had been pricing themselves out of the industry due to higher taxes for a long time, so they added in these credits and, look at that, it’s coming back.
“Match that with productions coming back from COVID, and we’re seeing the industry not only alive again, but growing again. There’s a Spielberg movie shooting in LA again. Franchises like American Crime Story and Star Trek: Picard are finding homes here. Some shoots, which states like Georgia were relying on, are coming back here.
“There are still concerns, like this delta variant shutting some productions down again, but overall the mood is that it’s coming back. And with more tax credits being lined up by the state right now, they are looking to take back more. Georgia took a lot of productions, including Marvel films, with British Columbia and Toronto still getting a lot of US doubling productions. California wants them back because they really help local economies and the industry itself being part of the state’s history.”
With some productions being halted once again due to the COVID-19 delta variant, it is currently unknown if the rebound will continue into Q3. However, more productions taking advantage of tax credits may negate that and keep the industry above pre-pandemic levels again.
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