Los Angeles’ new mayor has vowed to help stanch the flow of film and TV production jobs out of Hollywood, starting with the appointment of a film czar at City Hall. But to make a real difference, Eric Garcetti needs to convince skeptical state pols to combat the lure of rich tax incentives from outside California.
Two days after this year’s Oscars, Hollywood’s councilman Eric Garcetti, then running for mayor of Los Angeles, staged a media event at Sunset Gower Studios.
Only a smattering of reporters and photographers showed up, perhaps because the gathering was to address “runaway production,” a buzzword that means little for those outside the industry and, for insiders, is a timeworn term for a chronic, unresolved problem alongside piracy and studio accounting.
Runaway production has produced a “profound erosion” of California’s film and TV production, according to a report from the state’s film commission.
The report, released Tuesday, asserted that the state’s four-year-old incentive program — which provides $100 million in tax credits annually and is administered by the commission — isn’t large enough to reverse the trend.
“While our modest tax credit program has had an ameliorative effect in retaining some production spending, California continues to experience a pronounced erosion of this signature industry,” the report said. “California still boasts a superior critical mass of state-of-the-art facilities, highly-skilled film crews, and the best talent, but this infrastructure is at risk. “
By key metrics, Manhattan Beach is one of the most on-fire real estate markets in the L.A. area right now. The small beach town of 35,000 residents located just south of LAX — known for its high-profile sports star residents and Manhattan Beach Studios — hit a peak median residential sales price of $1.8 million in May, surpassing the highest median price of the boom year of 2006 (and up 22 percent from the same month in 2012). The South Bay town had the most $1 million-plus home sales of any Southern California city in 2012. Look on the Multiple Listing Service, and, as of July 22, there are just five single-family houses for sale in the burg for less than $1 million.
“Once we hit the new year, all hell broke loose — multiple offers on everything. Here in July, we’re 17 percent higher than we were in March,” says local agent Rachel Ezra of Rachel Ezra Real Estate. Bidding wars are not uncommon. In June, one of Ezra’s listings, a four-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot traditional-style house in a “walk street” (car-free) area was put on the market for $3.5 million. Seven weeks and 10 offers (eight of them cash) later, the sale closed at $4.2 million.
The top sale of 2013 so far was in February: A modern five-bedroom on the desirable oceanfront Strand sold for $11 million, the second-highest price ever paid for residential real estate in the city. Says agent Lee LeGrande of LeGrande Beach Homes, “Buyers are a dime a dozen now.”
Despite a drop in L.A. County’s unemployment rate, it was a month of June gloom for Hollywood jobs.
While industry employment typically declines in the summer months as the industry winds down production, the figures mark the second consecutive month of declines from a year ago in the film and TV jobs category.
As film studios cut back on releases, the fast-growing video-game industry is picking up some of the slack at visual-effects houses.
In a bombed-out section of a futuristic downtown Los Angeles, a man sits on a tire next to an overturned car, staring at a computer-controlled screen fastened to his wrist, oblivious to the machine gun fire and bomb blasts around him.
The camera pans out to show an aerial view of a war zone, where jet pilot Robert Downey Jr. swoops in on French actor Omar Sy, who is trying to thwart a rooftop sniper.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, the star-studded, 60-second trailer for the video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” took 12 weeks to produce and involved a team of 58 people, including 34 computer graphics artists, to render a destroyed downtown L.A., complete with burned-out buildings, wrecked cars, soldiers, zombies and plenty of fire, explosions and smoke.
New Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called runaway film and television production a civic “emergency” on Tuesday and pledged to take concrete steps to address it within his administration’s first 100 days, including the appointment of a “film czar” to oversee the effort.
“I don’t think we can wait much longer” to act, Garcetti told The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview. “The urgency of this is yesterday. We have lost too much. We’re going to start by clawing back and playing defense so we don’t lose any more. In the longer term, hopefully we can start pushing the ball in the other direction.”
The new mayor cited statistics showing that while 85 percent of the nation’s television episodes were filmed in Los Angeles just a few years ago, today that figure has fallen to the low 40’s. “This is an emergency situation,” he said.
LOS ANGELES – July 2, 2013
– FilmL.A. — the official film office of the City of Los
Angeles, the County of Los Angeles and other area jurisdictions — today announced
that L.A. area on-location filming increased 8.6 percent in the second quarter compared
to the same period last year (12,173 PPD in 2013 vs. 11,209 PPD in 2012)*. FilmL.A.
characterized the quarter as one of recovery; a new, 5-year historical analysis reveals
consistent underperformance in key Television subcategories.
The 96 TV pilots shot in Los Angeles this year generated $277.8 million in production spending, up 6% over last year, according to the FilmL.A. permitting agency.
Despite competition from other production centers such as New York, Toronto, Vancouver and Atlanta, Los Angeles managed to increase its total by retaining its crown as the king of comedy in pilots with 83% of production but continued to see its share of drama pilots decline from 28% to 22%.
FilmLA said the 96 projects were the second largest annual tally in Los Angeles’ history, up four from last year and six fewer that the peak year in 2005. It also noted that from Jan. 1 to June 10 this year, permitted production days for pilots were up almost 40% over 2012.
But Hollywood’s share of pilots has been declining with just 52% of all pilots in the current cycle, the second lowest on record and far below the 82% percent share in 2007.
“By the beginning of the 2013/2014 fall viewing season, L.A.’s share of network screen time devoted to primetime scripted dramas will have fallen below 40%, a new low,” the report noted. “In all, viewers this fall will be exposed to 38 L.A.-based shows (15 dramas, 23 comedies). And viewers will also be exposed to 27 shows filmed outside the region (26 dramas, 1 comedy). Come mid-season, L.A.’s drama share could be even smaller, since just one L.A. show was picked up as a midseason replacement.”
The report noted that the loss of one TV drama series can amount to thousands of lost jobs and tens of millions of dollars of lost production spending over several viewing seasons while comedy series are less expensive to produce than dramas.
Marvel filming most of latest ‘Captain America’ movie in L.A.
Disney-owned Marvel Studios is producing most of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ in L.A., a region that has seen the steady exodus of big-budget features.
On the fourth floor of a vacant wing of St. Vincent Medical Center near downtown Los Angeles, some 150 crew members crowded the hallways, joining actors Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson as they prepared to film a scene for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
The hospital wing is often used for filming television crime dramas such as “CSI” and “Private Practice,” but Tuesday’s shoot was among the largest St. Vincent has accommodated in 20 years of renting out its facilities to Hollywood.
Oscar-winning director James Cameron, who broke new ground with 3D technology with “Avatar,” is bringing that knowhow to Cirque du Soleil, producing a 3D film featuring the high-flying acrobatic troupe.
Cameron acted as executive producer and camera operator for “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” — a movie spectacle which brings the group’s breathtaking aerial routines to the big screen for the first time.
“This movie was a dream come true,” Cameron said of the 91-minute film directed by New Zealander Andrew Adamson, who also was at the helm of the hit “Chronicles of Narnia” films.
“Worlds Away” recounts the story of Mia, played by acrobat Erica Linz, who, while searching for a lost love, traverses through various universes — each of which is one of the fantastical worlds crafted by Cirque du Soleil.
Among the troupe’s shows re-created in the film are “Believe,” “Mystere,” “O,” and “Viva Elvis.”
The movie was filmed in part at a studio in New Zealand, which the Canadian-born Cameron now calls home, and is due to open Friday in cinemas across North America.
For all of the fantastical celluloid worlds he has created in the past, Cameron says what he really marvels about is the sheer majesty of the human form in action — particularly the elastic and athletic “Cirque” performers.
“Their death-defying acts require such incredible skill and nerve — we felt it was so important to show the cabling, everything supporting that human ability,” he told reporters in Florida ahead of the film’s release.
Another of Cameron’s highly-anticipated movie projects, a sequel to “Avatar,” is expected to open in theaters late next year.