Los Angeles Business Journal

Report Finds TV Drama Pilots Leaving L.A.

By Jonathan Polakoff Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Television pilot production in Los Angeles rose this year, but the most economically significant productions – dramas – continued their flight out of the area, according to a report released Tuesday by FilmL.A. Inc.

For the most recent pilot season, 92 pilot projects were shot in the L.A. area and 60 were shot in either other counties or states. But much of the local action was for lower-priced comedies, which typically cost about $2 million per episode to make -- less than half that of the average drama, according to the nonprofit organization that tracks L.A. filming.

The area attracted a 91 percent share of comedy pilots but just a 29 percent share of TV drama pilots during the season that runs roughly from January to April. As a result, only about $262 million was spent during the season in the L.A. area, or less than half of all pilot spending, the study found.

Drama pilots also are watched closely as an indicator of where full season dramas will be shot. In recent years, states including New York have increased their subsidies to lure such productions away from Los Angeles.

FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said the report indicates that the state needs to increase its film subsidy program.

“We think L.A. is settling into a new normal,” Audley said in a statement. “Without a more competitive California tax incentive program, Los Angeles will find it hard to increase its share of total TV drama production.”

FilmL.A. bases its data on permitted production days in the city of Los Angeles, unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County and other jurisdictions.