Though they were not the sole reasons for a steep drop in film and TV production in the L.A. area in the third quarter of 2023, labor disputes were the major factors contributing to a decline that saw a loss of 3,755 shoot days, or a 41.4% decrease, compared to 2022 levels, according to a report released Tuesday.
FilmLA, a partner film office for the city and county of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions, released a report analyzing production from July through September, which revealed the “full effect” of labor actions had on summer film and television production.
The report said, “Contract disputes were not the sole cause of the downward trend as overall, on-location filming in the region has declined for seven consecutive calendar quarters.”
“Sobering as these statistics are, production numbers are not the ultimate testimony of the importance of this industry to our region. There’s a deeper testimony that comes to us through stories of families, businesses, lives, and jobs affected by the present downturn,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said in a statement.
Overall third-quarter shoot days dropped from 9,066 in 2022 to 5,311 this year, the report said.
TV drama production dropped by 99% from July through September (12 shoot days in 2023 compared to 1,198 shoot days in 2022), and TV comedy production dropped 99.4% (2 shoot days in 2023 compared to 352 shoot days in 2022).
Feature film production dropped by 54.6% in the third quarter (376 shoot days in 2023 compared to 828 shoot days in 2022).
Most feature projects in production this summer were smaller, independent productions, among a few moving forward under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements — projects such as “Adult Best Friends,” “Don’t Trip,” “Eyes in the Trees,” “From Ashes.”
No filming projects in the comedy or feature film category qualified for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, and no TV pilot filming occurred during the third quarter.
Reality TV production declined 23.2% to 2,166 shoot days in 2023, compared to 2,824 shoot days in 2022, but remained the region’s primary production driver, the report said. Reality TV comprised 40.8% of all on- location filming, with projects such as “Basketball Wives,” “Bite Stop,” “Dress My Tour,” Real Murders of Los Angeles, and “Vanderpump Rules.”
While recent industry strikes did not directly affect commercial production, ads continued their decline, with a 25.8% year-over-year drop to 758 shoot days.
Production output for commercials was down 42.7% compared to its five- year quarterly average, according to the report.
In the “other” category, which comprises smaller shoots such as still photography, student films, documentaries, music and industrial videos, projects declined by 29.8% to 1,952 shoot days this year.
According to the report, the “steepest losses” came from the near complete shutdown of scripted television production starting in May, when the Writers Guild of America went on strike, followed by the SAG-AFTRA actors union in July.
On Oct. 9, the WGA ratified a new labor contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood studios, officially ending a strike that helped bring filming and production to a halt.
“We take encouragement from the recent successes achieved by the WGA and AMPTP at the negotiating table. When remaining talks (with SAG-AFTRA) conclude and production returns under mutually agreeable terms, that will be welcome to us all,” Audley said.
FilmLA previously reported the L.A. area continues to be the top filming location in the U.S. for scripted entertainment content, but it’s being outpaced by growth in competing locations.
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, according to researchers.