LA Film Production Surges 45% in March, Nearing Pre-COVID Levels

Brian Welk

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Film production in Los Angeles is coming back strong. FilmLA reported a surge of 43% in applications in March, a huge jump after LA County saw a similarly large jump of 43% between January to February.

FilmLA in its latest report Friday says that it received 1,125 applications in March for film and TV shoots on location. That’s 6,585 film permit applications, spanning 4,421 unique projects, since production resumed during the coronavirus pandemic last June, and another huge jump following the industry pause over the holiday in which Los Angeles saw another spike in COVID-19 cases.

The total number of productions is on pace with what the industry saw before the pandemic. FilmLA says that in terms of total shoot days during the last quarter, film and TV shoots were down only 3.3% compared to the same period in 2020. That’s 7,011 shoot days between January and March in 2021, though TV production specifically has grown just over 50% year-over-year, accounting for 3,766 total shoot days.

What’s more, 24.7% of TV drama shoot days came from projects that qualified for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, along with 5% of shooting days for TV comedies. Some of the TV shows to film in Los Angeles last quarter included “Generation” (HBO Max), “9-1 -1: Lone Star” (Fox), “Mayans MC” (FX), “NCIS: LA” (CBS), “Colin in Black & White” (Netflix) and “Shameless” (Showtime).

Film production however was still down compared to pre-pandemic numbers, by about 13.5%. Some of the movies to shoot in Los Angeles in the last quarter included an untitled David O. Russell film, Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” and the Russo Brothers’ “The Gray Man.” 4.9% of the shoot days came from projects that qualified for tax credits.

Commercial production also generated a total of 993 shoot days last quarter, for a decline of 18.2% compared to the same period in 2020. Spots for products like Remy Martin, Little Caesar’s and Nike were shot locally during the quarter. Also included were commercials for Nissan, Ford and Nationwide Insurance.

“The current pace of business resumption is encouraging,” FilmLA president Paul Audley said in a statement. “Continuing industry adherence to Appendix J protocols, which has made film sets among the safest possible workplaces during the pandemic, remains important even as local vaccine uptake increases.”

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