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L.A. on-location film shoots drop 19%

August 18, 2009 |  8:00 am

Image1 Like the national economy, filming on the streets of Los Angeles remains tepid.

Overall on-location filming dropped 19% last week over the same period a year ago, according to FilmL.A. Inc., which handles permits for on-location shoots.

And for the first time in several weeks, the fall-off occurred in all major categories -- commercials, television and feature films.

One sector that looked to be rebounding -- commercials -- saw a 16% drop in production days from Aug. 10 to Aug. 16,  compared with the same week in 2008. (One production day is defined as a single crew's permission to film a single project at a single location during a 24-hour period).

Commercial production had been up for three consecutive weeks, suggesting a recovery was underway. The recession triggered major advertisers like the Big Three auto companies to slash advertising budgets.

With fewer than a dozen movies shooting in Los Angeles, most of them small budget independent features, feature film activity dropped 22% last week compared with an already bleak period a year ago, when production ground to a halt amid a contract dispute between the studios and the Screen Actors Guild.

Television production fell by a similar amount, with the biggest decline in game shows, talk shows and variety programs, according to FilmL.A.  Additionally, while many TV shows, such as "Big Love" and "The Closer" and "CSI: New York"  film locally, more production is occurring on soundstages.

"We're being told by our television industry customers that on-location production is being limited in order to save costs,'' FilmL.A. spokesman Todd Lindgren said.

-- Richard Verrier