Thanks to the WGA’s mighty picket lines, on-location filming in Los Angeles dropped 28.8 percent in Q2, which mostly aligns with the start of the Writers Strike on May 2. Though below-the-line workers have surely become collateral damage in this ongoing battle, the writers are clearly hurting the AMPTP, as nearly every company’s stock has dropped with the exception of Netflix, which was always best positioned for a strike in terms of content.
FilmLA reported a sharp drop to 6,566 total shoot days in Los Angeles from April to June, with TV production experiencing the steepest decline — 36.4 percent (accounting for 2,630 shoot days). That included a 72.8 decline in locally produced TV comedies (84 shoot days) compared to last year’s Q2, as well as a 63.8 percent decline in locally produced TV dramas (360 shoot days).
Meanwhile, feature film production dropped by 18.9 percent with only 728 shoot days. Even commercial production declined 22.4 percent year-over-year, though that had nothing to do with either labor strike as commercials don’t fall under the same contract as film and television. FilmLA’s “Other” category, which includes documentaries, music videos, still photography, and student films also declined 23.7 percent (to 2,347 shoot days).
“The last time production levels were this low, we were in the middle of a global pandemic. Families and businesses affected then are again being tested today, lending urgency to the moment to sustain creative careers,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said in a statement.
“Greater Los Angeles is the North American epicenter of scripted television production. Before long, this sector’s shutdown will be felt in every corner of the regional economy. Like all others watching with hope from the sidelines, we are eager to see the studios and unions reopen their contract negotiations. Much is at stake for WGA and SAG-AFTRA members, and also for the small business supply chain on which future filming depends,” said Audley.
FilmLA defines a shoot day as “one crew’s permission to film at one or more defined locations during all or part of any given 24-hour period,” and it’s important to keep in mind that its report doesn’t account for the current SAG-AFTRA strike, which didn’t begin until Q3 in mid-July. In accordance, you can expect the Q3 figures to be far worse unless the Actors Strike comes to a quick resolution.
On the bright side, depending on how you look at it, reality TV production actually increased 24.5 percent from the prior quarter, which made the overall unscripted TV production numbers look a little less bad, as they only dropped 22.9 percent (to 2,013 shoot days).
Reality shows that shoot in Los Angeles include American Idol (ABC), Basketball Wives (VH1), Buying Beverly Hills (Netflix), The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Bravo!), and Selling Sunset (Netflix), though they aren’t eligible for tax incentives.