Even with pandemic and strikes over, SoCal film and TV production continues to slip

Rob Hayes Image
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
SoCal film, TV industry production continues to fall
After making it through the pandemic and two massive strikes, Southern California's film and TV industry is failing to bounce back, according to a recent study.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After making it through the pandemic, then two massive strikes last year, Southern California's film and TV industry was poised to make a much needed rebound. But it hasn't, according to a recently released study.

FilmLA, the nonprofit that manages TV and film shoots throughout the Los Angeles area, released a report in April that finds local, on-location filming is down nearly 9% in the first quarter of this year.

Even worse, TV production is down more than 16% from January through March. And over the past five years, it is down by a whopping 33%.

"We're at about 80% of what should be normal for LA right now, and I don't think we're going to see much of a change from that number in the near future," said Paul Audley, president of FilmLA. "We knew that the streamers and the studios were reducing the amount of content they produce. We knew that there was going to be less in L.A. as they began to look overseas for cheaper places to film. And we knew we had other jurisdictions beginning to compete more on incentives and credits than California is."

Audley says the drop in TV shoots has been especially hard since most California-based productions over the past decade have been for television, since major film productions now tend to do most of their work in other countries.

"What's left are independent films, smaller television and other things that don't tend to hire as much in cast and crew, and with shorter seasons they tend not to be going out as much on location," he said.

That lack of jobs has translated into a big drop in revenue for businesses based on film and TV productions.

"It's insane," said Shon LeBlanc, owner of Valentino's Costume Group. "We're closing down."

LeBlanc is currently selling off as much of his inventory of clothing, wigs and jewelry as he can before permanently shutting the doors of the 26-year-old North Hollywood costume company at the end of the month.

He says his business barely made it though the pandemic, when the writers' and actors' strikes took another toll last year. But when shoots kept falling, even after the strikes ended, he knew his company was doomed. And he says other businesses and workers tied to the film and TV industry are in the same situation.

"People say 'I haven't worked in two years, three years.' It's just like this is affecting everybody," he said. "I can't keep doing this and getting up every morning and throwing up and being stressed to no end."

Audley says other states continue to lure TV and film work out of California by offering better incentives and credits. While California limits its filming credits to $300 million a year, Audley says New York offers $700 million and states like Georgia have no limits.