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On Location: Overall location filming down 2% in 1st quarter in L.A.

Hefner Franco Linda Lovelace
Feature film activity on the streets of Los Angeles rebounded in the first quarter of this year, but the gains were offset by a continued falloff in television shoots in the region.

Location filming for movies generated 1,019 production days in the first quarter, up 16% over the same period a year ago as the city and county benefited from several smaller movies, including Millennium Films' and Eclectic Pictures' "Lovelace," starring Amanda Seyfried and James Franco in a story about the late porn star Linda Lovelace.

That was a welcome turnaround from the fourth quarter of 2011, when feature production dropped 26%, according to data from FilmL.A. Inc., which handles shooting permits on behalf of the city and county. Commercial production continued to grow, rising 11% in the quarter.

But the increase in features and commercials wasn't enough to prevent a 2% drop in overall location filming. TV dramas and reality TV each fell 19% in the quarter, which also saw an 11% drop in pilot activity. The pilot season typically runs from February through April and has been slower than normal.

Fox and CBS have ordered fewer pilots this year because their schedules are more stable and they need fewer replacement shows. The slowdown also comes as L.A. continues to lose business to rival locations, especially New York. That state, which allocates about $400 million a year in film tax credits -- four times as much as California -- had a record year for film production in 2011, with 23 prime-time series. About 13 pilots are expected to be filmed in New York City this year.

"We continue to feel the sting of last year's loss of television dramas and a softening in the reality production segment overall," FilmLA president Paul Audley said in a statement.

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-- Richard Verrier 

Photo: James Franco will play Hugh Hefner in a film biopic about Linda Lovelace entitled “'Lovelace.” Credit: Mark Mainz / Getty Images

Where the cameras roll
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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