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On Location: Film down 42% in Los Angeles last week

June 16, 2009 | 11:25 am

Are they shooting a TV episode on your block? Has a location scout asked to use your house to film a TV commercial? Has a police car chase scene for next summer's action thriller tied up your commute home?

Dealing with location filming is as much a part of living in Los Angeles as sig alerts and smog. Still, the rubberneckers in us are curious to know what is filming on location, and where. So, with the help of FilmLA, the group which handles film permits, Company Town presents "On Location," a chart tracking film and television production activity in and around Los Angeles.

The chart, which appears in print and online, gives a sampling of upcoming films, TV shows and commercials that are scheduled for on-location filming across the city and county. It includes a weekly tally comparing production activity to the same period a year ago -- recently, the comparisons have not been favorable as the production industry faces its steepest downturn in memory.

On-location filming is one of the underpinnings of  the local entertainment economy. And, as the lifeblood of scores of businesses that supply the film production industry -- caterers, equipment rental shops, prop houses -- it is a key source of employment for thousands of people.

The chart will not only point up the scope of local production, but also reflects the degree to which L.A. is struggling to keep movies and TV shows like ABC's "Ugly Betty" from leaving Hollywood. Feature film production recently dropped to its lowest level on record, largely reflecting the flow of production to other, cheaper locales outside California.

More than 30 states now offer tax credits and rebates to lure filmmakers, a fact that was highlighted recently when the California legislature adopted its first-ever film tax credits. Companies can begin applying for California credits next month. Whether it will work remains to be seen. Look to "On Location" for clues.

Update: A previous version of this post included a map with some incorrect information. The map has been taken down.

-- Richard Verrier