On Location: Another busy week for feature filming in L.A.
Filming for features generated 189 production days for the week ended Sunday, up 66% from the same time a year earlier, according to recently-released data from FilmL.A. Inc., which handles permits for film shoots on streets and noncertified soundstages in the city and unincorporated areas of the county.
Feature film activity was virtually flat in the first half of this year but has steadily grown in recent months. The category is up about 60% so far in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, according to FilmL.A. data.
The surge in feature filming last week led to an overall 6% increase in production days across all categories.
Projects fueling the increase range from obscure independent features to star-packed studio movies including “The Dark Knight Rises,” the upcoming Batman sequel that recently moved production from Pittsburgh; “Savages,” an Oliver Stone directed movie starring John Travolta about pot growers who battle the Mexican mafia; and “End of Watch,” a crime drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena and Anna Kendrick.
Activity is expected to remain strong as two other high-profile movies get underway: “Argo,” about the Iranian hostage crisis, starring and directed by Ben Affleck; and “The Gangster Squad,” a star-packed period drama with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone about the Los Angeles Police Department’s anti-mafia unit in the 1940s and 1950s.
Both films received approval for state film tax credits under a program whose future is being debated in Sacramento. The state Senate is expected to vote next week on a bill to extend the credits beyond 2012, though it’s unclear whether the final bill would extend the $100 million in annual funding for five years or just one.
In other sectors, television production, which has been nearly flat so far this quarter, generated 337 production days last week, down 11% from a year earlier. Filming for commercials accounted for 139 production days, up 4%.
This week’s scheduled film shoots include those for the Judd Apatow comedy “This is Forty,” which will film downtown; "Savages," which will be in Studio City; and the CBS TV show “The Mentalist,” which is taking its crew to Palmdale.
Meanwhile, the reality TV series “Pit Bulls and Parolees” will set up in Castaic, in northern L.A. County.
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from "The Dark Knight." Follow-up "The Dark Knight Rises" is currently filming in L.A. Credit: AP/Warner Bros.