Friday, April 17, 2009

Movie Production Down

More disturbing news about the state of the industry here in town comes from the LA Times. Some excerpts:

On-location film and TV shoots in L.A. hit lowest levels on record
The recession and incentives from other states have caused location work in the region to fall to the lowest levels on record, a FilmL.A. report to be issued today shows.
By Richard Verrier
April 14, 2009
Location filming for movies and TV commercials on the streets of Los Angeles, once as prevalent as the corner taco truck, is rapidly fading to black. Double whammies of the recession and out-of-state economic incentives for producers have caused on-location film shoots in the Los Angeles area to fall to their lowest levels on record...

Los Angeles' entertainment industry lost more than 22,000 jobs in January alone, more than any other sector, according to the California Employment Development Department -- roughly 10% of the available workforce. The entertainment industry employs more than 200,000 people and pumps $20 billion to $30 billion into the local economy, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. estimates.

"A combination of limited financing, reduced studio budgets and reduced ad buying are all hitting Hollywood at the same time," said Kevin Klowden, managing economist at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica. "The result is less production and clear job losses."

The latest indicator that Los Angeles' production industry is sharply losing altitude will come today, when the entity that processes permits for local film shooting reports a 56% plunge in activity for the first quarter, a new low. TV commercial production fell 34%, underscoring the deep cuts in advertiser spending that have occurred since the economy slipped into recession.

Only a smattering of movies, including a remake of "Fame" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks 2," were shot on location in Los Angeles during the first quarter.
Five major studio films are scheduled to be shot in L.A. this year, compared with about 15 last year, according to FilmL.A.

Although film production is off industrywide, the decline has been exacerbated in Los Angeles by other states' luring away film and TV producers with financial incentives. More than 30 states now offer tax credits and rebates that make it cheaper for filmmakers to make movies and TV shows outside California. Feature production in Los Angeles has declined in 10 of the last 12 years...

Although SAG and the studios now appear close to concluding an agreement, the stalemate continues to affect independent filmmakers. Without a final contract in place, insurance companies have been reluctant to issue completion bonds. Lenders require such bonds to guarantee that a movie will be done on time and within budget.

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