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Los Angeles On-Location Film Permits Jump in October as Industry Restarts

Courtesy of Cheyne Gateley/Variety Intelligence Platform

On-location film permits for the Los Angeles area grew by 24% in October over September as productions staged a moderate recovery amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the FilmLA agency reported Tuesday.

The industry, which was mostly shuttered from March to June, has filed for 2,565 film permit applications for 1,967 unique projects over the last 20 weeks, according to the report. Monthly application intake increased in October to 880 permits, a gain of 169 from September. FilmLA’s daily intake now averages around 40 new applications per business day.

FilmLA said current activity levels have stabilized at just under 47% percent of what analysts would expect under normal filming conditions. The advertising industry (still photography and commercials) accounts for a 44% share of local permit requests, followed by television content at 25% with feature film production at only 4%.

“The expected October pick-up in scripted television production did occur; local reality TV production (6% of requests) was eclipsed by TV drama production (10% of requests) for the first time since June,” the agency noted.

FilmLA President Paul Audley noted a month ago that the September agreement between unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on industry-wide safety protocols had led to feature film and television productions slowly ramping up production plans. Prior to that, producers were crafting agreements with unions on a project-by-project basis.

“As Los Angeles welcomes more episodic series and feature films back to production, we are grateful to local producers, crew and vendors for their adherence to safe filming practices,” Audley said Tuesday. “To push past our current production plateau with full community support, we need to continue to focus on keeping our workplaces safe.”

Broadcast and cable dramas and sitcoms shooting in the month of October include “NCIS LA” (CBS), “The Rookie” (ABC), “Mayans MC” (FX), “Animal Kingdom” (TNT), and “Shameless” (Showtime). Streaming series include “Dear White People” (Netflix), “Big Shot” (Disney Plus), “Made for Love” (HBO Max) and “Rutherford Falls “(Peacock). Reality TV and game shows that filmed in October include “American Idol” (ABC), “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC), “Shahs of Sunset” (Bravo), “Selena + Chef” (HBO Max), “House Hunters” (HGTV) and “Lucky Dog” (CBS).

Feature films that shot locally include “Soggy Bottom,” a Paul Thomas Anderson movie with Bradley Cooper set in the 1970s San Fernando Valley; Warner Bros.’ “King Richard” with Will Smith starring as the father of Venus and Serena Williams; and Channing Tatum’s “Dog.”

Commercials that filmed in Los Angeles last month included spots for Instagram, Uber, Subaru, Citibank, Starbucks, Kohl’s, JC Penney and Walmart. Also included were PSA commercials for the campaigns Vote Safe California and Get Out the Vote 2020.

Variety's Dave McNary contributed to this post.

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