Los Angeles film permits drop 25% in December

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(Film permits dropped dramatically in December)

FilmLA, partner film office for the City and County of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions—has issued an update regarding regional filming activity and permits since the reopening of L.A. County to on-location filming last June. And it is fairly bleak.

Over the last twenty-nine weeks, FilmLA has processed approximately 4,213 film permit applications spanning 2,985 unique projects.

Film permit applications declined steeply last month, dropping 24.9 percent from November levels to 613 permits in December. This is the second straight month that permit requests dropped. In November, monthly activity slipped 7.6 percent from October levels to 813 permits.

The activity decline started early and deepened throughout December. The week before Christmas, FilmLA issued 143 permits, then 58 the week of the holiday (12/14-12/20), and 50 the week of New Year’s (12/28-1/3). With just 21 working days in December, FilmLA released an average of just 29 film permits per day—the lowest daily output since last August.


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Analysts tied the drop in production to voluntary industry efforts to stop the COVID-19 surge. In Los Angeles County, film production remains permissible, subject to extensive workplace health regulation through a combination of government mandates and union agreements. Current practice includes routine employee screening and COVID-19 testing, environmental sanitation, and zone-based set access control.

On December 24, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health urged the film industry to consider pausing production for a few weeks during the COVID-19 surge. Highly invested in efforts to keep cast, crew and communities safe, and having already begun dialing activity back, an extended holiday hiatus began.

CBS Studios, Warner Bros. TV, Universal Television, Disney Television Studios and Sony Pictures Television all indicated recently that they were pausing production until at least mid-January.

“The industry has been extraordinarily responsible throughout the time of the pandemic, as demonstrated by their recent actions during the rise in cases of COVID-19 and embrace of strict safety protocols.” Paul Audley, President of FilmLA.

Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA and the Producers Guild further recommended that on-set commercial production be temporarily paused in Southern California.

Television production comprised 27 percent of permits released in December. Only a handful of TV series started shooting locally in December including CBS’ GhostsInsecure (HBO), Tacoma FD (HBO Max), The L Word: Generation Q (Showtime), and The 3 of Us (CBS).

Feature film production comprised 6 percent of permits released in December. A total of 26 feature films, largely independents, commenced shooting in December, including MonstrousSlayers and This Land.

Reality TV shows shooting around town included Dog Impossible (NatGeo), Jay Leno’s Garage (NBC), Teen Mom OG (CBS All Access), and Season 5 of People Magazine Investigates (Investigation Discovery).

With Super Bowl next month, commercial production comprised 28 percent of permits released in December. Projects that shot in Los Angeles County last month included spots for products like Haagen Dazs, Honda, Mountain Dew, and retailers/services such as Carl’s Jr., Lowe’s and Progressive.

FilmLA’s COVID-19 Resource Center lists the areas served by FilmLA and their current filming availability. This page also includes links to resources from film industry organizations and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, including mandatory Health Orders that apply to filming on location.

SOURCE: FilmLA

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