Once the hub of television pilot production, Los Angeles’s dominance is now starting to be challenged. For the second year in a row, the City of Angels’ share of pilot production was below 50 percent, with more and more television productions moving to cities like New York, Vancouver and Atlanta, according to a report from FilmL.A. Inc.
FilmL.A. Inc., a not-for-profit group that monitors television and film production in the Greater Los Angeles region, found that 202 television pilots—111 dramas and 91 comedies— were produced during the 2014-2015 development cycle. This is one less than the previous cycle, which was the most productive year. Of that 202, 91 pilots (21 drams, 70 comedies) were filmed in Los Angeles, which gave it a 45 percent share of the pilot production. While this number is up from last year’s 44 percent, it is still significantly lower from the 2006-2007 cycle high of 82 percent.
With better tax incentives, other cities in the United States and Canada are luring television production away from Hollywood. Los Angeles’ top competitors were New York (25 pilots), Vancouver (16 pilots), Atlanta (9 pilots), Toronto (9 pilots) and Louisiana (8 pilots).
While Los Angeles continues to hold the majority share of comedy pilot productions, it is still falling behind when it comes to one-hour drama pilots, which are highly coveted because they employ more people than comedies and cost more to produce. FilmL.A. Inc. found that for every drama pilot that was shot in Los Angeles four others were filmed elsewhere. In the most recent cycle, Los Angeles only captured 19 percent of drama pilots, indicating a slight improvement of its 17 percent share in last year's cycle.
Last year, and for the first time ever, more drama pilots were produced in New York than California. In recent years, New York city has been the home of many critically acclaimed and successful series like CBS's "The Good Wife," FX's "The Americans," HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," Netflix's "Daredevil and more. Television and film production has been on the rise in New York since the state expanded its tax credit program in 2009
The loss of pilot productions carries a significant impact of California's economy. For example, losing a one-hour drama pilot means losing the 150-750 jobs they tend to create and $6 million to $9 million in production costs. More importantly, however, losing a pilot also means the loss of a potential series since shows tend to remain where they are shot.
That being said, unlike in the past, filming your pilot in California is no longer a guarantee that a show will remain there if it is picked up by a network. In the recent cycle, the pilots of AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” and Fox’s “Lucifer” were filmed in Los Angeles, but the remainder of their first seasons will be shot in Vancouver.
In attempt to draw business back to the state, California revamped the California Film & Television Tax Credit program. Under the new program, which was signed into law in September and went into effect on July 1, all drama series, regardless of where they were broadcast, are now eligible for the credit. Although, it is too early to be certain, the program is already showing signs of improvement.
"Today's FilmL.A. Pilot Production Report demonstrates the importance of our new California Film Tax Credit, and the dolalrs and jobs it will bring home to our local economy," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statment. "I look forward to accelerated growth in LA's pilot season next year as the Film Tax credits—which took effect on July 1—kick in for TV, spurring pilot and new series production while bringing home existing series 'Veep' and 'American Horror Story' to LA."
FX's "American Horror Story," one of the recipients of the new credit is returning California for its fifth season. The Ryan Murphy created series shot its first two seasons in California, but moved to Louisiana for seasons three and four because of the state's incentive program. HBO’s “Veep,” whose first four seasons were filmed in Maryland, is relocating to California after being chosen for the credit.