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On Location: Filming activity in L.A. stalls in the second quarter

Hollywoodsign 
Local production activity slowed to a virtual crawl in the second quarter due to fewer film shoots for commercials and TV sitcoms in Los Angeles.

Following a 5% gain the first quarter, on-location filming for all categories was nearly flat in the three-month period ended June 30 compared with the same time a year earlier, according to data released Tuesday by FilmL.A. Inc. The non-profit group, which handles film permits for the city and many incorporated areas of the county, tracks film shoots that occur on streets and non-certified soundstages.

The biggest drop came in the commercials category, which produced 1,481 production days in the second quarter, down nearly 8% compared with 2010. A production day is counted as a single crew's permission to film at a single location in a 24-hour period. The decline followed a 21-month surge as advertisers loosened their purse strings amid signs of economic recovery from a deep recession.

Television production days dropped 0.7% to 4,024, fueled by a sharp falloff in shoots for TV sitcoms and reality programming.

Feature film activity improved from the first quarter, rising 4% for 1,604 days, after a 5% drop in the first quarter. Still, fewer projects benefited from the state film tax credit: Only five projects received state film tax credits in the second quarter compared with 16 a year earlier. FilmL.A. officials cited a reduction in available funds.

California film officials allocated two years' worth of funding -- $200 million -- in the first year of the program, which took effect in July 2009 and runs through 2014. The state recently allocated an additional $100 million in funding for the current fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"We expect to see features get a boost as a new crop of incentivized projects hits the streets,'' said Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A.

But Audley also cautioned that local television production would be lackluster for the rest of the year because more dramas are being filmed outside of California in New York and other states. "A lot of new shows you'll see this fall won't be filming in California,'' he said.

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: The Hollywood Sign. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times

Sample of neighborhoods with permitted TV, film and commercial shoots scheduled this week. Permits are subject to last-minute changes. Sources: FilmL.A. Inc., cities of Beverly Hills, Santa Clarita and Pasadena. Thomas Suh Lauder / Los Angeles Times

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