L.A.’s Scripted Film & TV Production Growth Lags Far Behind That Of Competitors, Such As Georgia And The U.K., Says New FilmLA Report

The greater Los Angeles area remains the top filming location in the United States for scripted entertainment content, but it’s being outpaced by growth in competing locations, according to a report released by FilmLA today.

Growth in the region’s total production was less than 1% between 2021 and 2022, compared to a 4% growth in total industry output and significant growth in competing jurisdictions, according to FilmLA.

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For instance,  the United Kingdom and the state of Georgia posted year-over-year increases ranging from 50% to 200%, with the exception of theatrical release movies, achieving high rates of production capture across multiple production categories, according to researchers.

The group’s Scripted Content Study (read it here) analyzed projects produced between 2021-2022. The report examined four categories, including television series (streaming, cable and broadcast); original, made-for-cable movies; first-run feature films in theatrical release; and original feature films made for streaming services.

Approximately 1,000 projects meet these criteria and are distributed each calendar year, according to the organization. In previous years, FilmLA issued separate reports on the film and television sectors.

“The change our industry has undergone over the past few years is profound,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said in a statement. “Here, in a moment where many predict a reduction in industry output, this study establishes a baseline for us to understand the challenges ahead.”

“Greater Los Angeles’ main competitors share two features in common: substantial production support infrastructure and strong production tax incentives,” the report stated. “As media companies look to trim their budgets amid Wall Street pressure to lower costs, it can be safely assumed that production centers offering the best balance of these features will become even more desirable to U.S. producers.”

California and New York have film incentive programs with annual funding caps and sunset dates. California’s film incentive is valued at $330 million per year and New York recently raised its annual funding cap from $420 million to $700 million.

Georgia, on the other hand, has no funding cap. Its TV tax credit grew to a record $1.3 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2022, making it the leader in such incentives. Through that June cutoff, the state saw 32 feature films, 36 independent films and 269 episodic TV productions in the fiscal year. Filming in the state generated $4.4 billion in production spending last year and has prompted over $1 billion in statewide capital investment in studio and soundstage space since 2012.

Another factor in Georgia’s banner fiscal 2022 was a shorter Covid production lockdown.

“Georgia allowed productions to return before other markets, so we not only had returning shows that shut down due to the pandemic, but we were also able to attract new shows that were slated to shoot in other, locked down markets,” said Lee Thomas, director of the Georgia Film Office. “This additional slate of projects, combined with increased budgets due to the need for additional crew and space, plus stringent safety measures, led Georgia to have an even higher than projected record year.”

“California’s less robust incentive and rapidly expanding studio infrastructure in other jurisdictions will likely limit the Golden State’s ability to attract film and television projects in the future,” according to the FilmLA report. How the local economy recovers after the WGA and SAG strikes (assuming they end soon) is another variable.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently took a step toward addressing the incentive gap.

A motion last week by Supervisors Katheryn Barger and Lindsey Horvath directed the County Department of Economic Opportunity in consultation with FilmLA “to identify an economic development firm to study various strategies that could incentivize new and continued movie, commercial, and television production in the County.” It passed by an unanimous 5-0 vote. You can read the full text of that proposal here.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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