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L.A. sees big increase in TV, film production

January 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
There was a big jump in local film and television production last month. It's promising news for the future. Several major studios in Los Angeles bring huge productions to the city. But for the longest time, a lot of those productions were headed out of state and even out of the country. Finally there is some good news. Local production is making a comeback.

Judi Bell is the owner of Cinema Paper Rentals, a company that provides props to film productions. Lately Bell has been busy.

"This week, I mean it's only been a few days, but starting Monday right after the New Year, we had probably eight to 10 phone calls, which is a lot for a Monday right after New Year," said Bell.

Bell's prop house in North Hollywood isn't alone. According to newly released figures, Los Angeles is enjoying a 37-percent increase in local productions compared to this time last year.

"Every day it has increased, actually," said Bell. "Today I've already had like 10 phone calls, so it's good. People are inquiring, people are renting things, people are coming back."

FilmL.A. Inc., the non-profit group that coordinates film permits, says there has been a flurry of new productions, ranging from major motion pictures to television shows.

The new figures are a huge improvement over 2009, when production in Los Angeles hit an all-time low.

"I have friends who didn't work all last year at all. Not one single job," said Bell.

"Last year at this time, it was really slim pickings," said Yvette Bragdon, owner of Happy Craft, a craft services company.

Bragdon runs her own crafts services company. She says many productions have gone out of state to places like Louisiana.

"Louisiana does insane incentives," said Bragdon. "They can bring people down from L.A., bring the trucks down from L.A., put them up in hotels, and it's still cheaper than shooting here, which is really sad."

But California has enacted its own tax credits, which took effect in 2009. Those credits help offset production costs, which means more movies, commercials and TV shows are being made locally.

"If the state of California or Los Angeles can reduce the costs of filming in Los Angeles, then we will get more of the filming activity that the studios have planned," said Nancy Sidhu, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

More good news from economists: They say that advertising is up. That means more commercials are being shot, and those productions also have a big impact on the local economy.