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Film Production in L.A. Has Dropped 50% Since 1996

The introduction of film incentives in Canada in 1997 was followed up by more programs in 40 U.S. states and 30 countries, but local policymakers did little and ultimately "paid a heavy price," according to a report.

By City News Service

Despite "double-digit" percentage increases in feature film and television production in Los Angeles recent years, on-location filming has not kept up, according to a report released Tuesday by FilmL.A. Inc.

The Los Angeles-based not-for-profit organization, which advocates for incentives to attract film production to the region, released a report entitled "Filming On-Location in Los Angeles: 1993-2013" that looks back on two decades of local film production trends.

"Where once L.A. reigned undisputed as the film production capital of the world, now the region is but one place among a globe full of options that film, television and commercial producers can choose," the report said.

The introduction of film incentives in Canada in 1997 was followed up by more programs in 40 U.S. states and 30 countries, but local policymakers did little and ultimately "paid a heavy price," according to the report.

"California lost its grip on the highest value film and television projects," the report said. "That loss is plainly reflected in FilmL.A.'s data."

Even with a 19 percent increase last year, feature production still came in at 50 percent below the 1996 peak, while a 16 percent increase in television drama production was 39 percent below a high point in 2008, according to the report.

Meanwhile, recent growth in on-location production has centered around "lower-value" projects such as reality television, student films and still photography, the report said.     Commercial production saw a record-setting 5 percent growth in 2013, but with budgets tightening on such projects, filmmakers are opting to film on- location, instead of at sound stages, with 11 percent making the shift.

The report also highlights some "promising" bright spots, such as the "explosive growth" seen in web commercial production, which doubled in 2013. The shift is driven by "increased broadband connectivity, coupled with the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other media consumption devices," the report said.

"Only time will tell what the next decade holds, but if experience counts for anything the growth in these segments should not be taken for granted but rather should be supported and encouraged," the report advised.

FilmL.A. President Paul Audley called the release of the report a "milestone for FilmL.A. and the local film production industry."

"We hope that this report illuminates some of the challenges the region faces and makes plain the areas where help is needed to better attract and retain film production in Los Angeles," he said.


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