SOURCE: FilmL.A., Inc.

January 25, 2008 11:40 ET

L.A. On-Location Entertainment Production Declines 1% in 2007

Feature Films Continue Slide While Commercials Decline and TV Sustains Growth With Dose of "Reality"

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - January 25, 2008) - In a year of ups and downs, overall production of on-location filmed entertainment in the Los Angeles region fell 1% in 2007, according to data released today by FilmL.A., Inc.

The non-profit film office coordinated permits for a total of 54,871 on-location production days during 2007, compared to 55,399 in 2006. Last year marked only the fourth yearly decline in overall production since FilmL.A. began reporting production data in 1994. While the decline may appear slight, there are discernible trends within the various production categories that reveal the region's changing entertainment production landscape.

Feature film production continued its downward trend, dropping 6.4% to 8,247 permit days, compared to 8,813 in 2006. Last year's decline came on the heels of a 7.4% drop in feature production during 2006. With the most recent annual decline, on-location feature film production in Los Angeles has been down nine of the last eleven years, as "runaway production" continues to take its toll.

"The 2007 feature film data is in line with the decade-long downward trend that has occurred as other locales use economic incentives to lure feature production," said FilmL.A. President Steve MacDonald.

The L.A. region also saw a second consecutive annual decline in commercial production, which dropped 0.2% after a 3.4% slide in 2006. The 2006 decline ended a five-year period of growth that began after production plummeted 24.6% in 2000 following a labor action by actors.

On-location television production helped reduce L.A.'s overall decline, as the category rose 12.9% for the year; up 2,663 permit days for a total of 23,315. Much of that growth came in the first two quarters, when overall TV production was up 29.7% and 19.3% respectively. These early increases may be attributed to a concerted rush to get production into the pipeline before labor contract negotiations.

Reality TV production surged in the first quarter and saw strong gains in the second and fourth quarters. The reality TV genre drove the overall annual gain in the TV category, as reality production finished the year with a total of 10,177 on-location production days -- an increase of 21.2% over 2006. During 2007, reality TV accounted for 43.7% of all on-location TV production in the Los Angeles region.

"While reality TV bolstered the overall television production figures, the rise in reality production does not generate the same benefit to the local economy as a comparable increase in scripted television production," added MacDonald. "This is because reality-based productions typically employ fewer people and pump far less production-related spending into the local economy."

Within the scripted TV category, drama production fell 3.4% for the year for a total of 6,434 permit days, accounting for 27.6% of the region's overall on-location TV production. Location sitcom production increased 11.6% during 2007, with 2,032 permit days for the year. Representing just 8.7% of all TV production days, sitcoms were the smallest segment of the three main TV genres. As in the reality genre, the big gains for sitcoms came in the first two quarters of 2007, which recorded leaps of 136% and 71% respectively, before posting consecutive losses in the third and fourth quarters.

"The surge we saw in TV production during the early part of 2007 was consistent with other periods preceding labor contract negotiations," said MacDonald. "When the Writers Guild strike began on November 5th, completed scripts for many TV series were already in the production pipeline, and the holiday hiatus was not far off. That's why the strike actually had a limited downside impact on the annual production figures for 2007."

MacDonald cautioned that the impact for 2008 could be far more profound. "With all Los Angeles-based primetime dramas and sitcoms shuttered and pilot season production on-hold, there's good reason to be concerned."

About FilmL.A., Inc.

Founded in 1995, FilmL.A., Inc. is a private, nonprofit economic development corporation that provides a crucial link between media producers, local residents and various government entities to sustain the Los Angeles region's status as a global leader in entertainment production. FilmL.A., Inc. holds contracts with the City of Los Angeles, unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, and the cities of Diamond Bar, South Gate and the City of Industry. Non-municipal clients include the Angeles National Forest and all facilities operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District and Burbank Unified School District. More information about FilmL.A. is available at www.filmlainc.com.

* On-location production figures are based on permit applications for days of production in the jurisdictions coordinated by FilmL.A., Inc. A production day is defined as one crew working at one location during a 24-hour period. The figures account for more than 80 percent of all on-location production in Los Angeles County, but do not include production that occurs on certified sound stages or on-location in surrounding jurisdictions. Overall figures include production of feature films, television programs, commercials, music videos, still photography, documentaries, student films and miscellaneous production.