Los Angeles, the iconic hub of the film industry, is facing challenges that might be pushing filmmakers to consider alternative shooting locations. Recent fee hikes by FilmL.A., the organization responsible for coordinating permits for on-location motion picture, television, and commercial production in Los Angeles, have added to the growing list of reasons for productions to explore other areas.
- FilmL.A. introduced rate hikes on various fees to obtain shooting permits in the region.
- Some fee increases were tied to inflation, while others saw markups of roughly 8 to 17 percent.
- New administrative fees were introduced for complex filming requests.
- Permitting costs for large-scale projects could potentially triple due to these changes.
- The fee hikes are another factor pushing productions to consider filming in other areas.
- Los Angeles remains a top filming location, but its growth has been stagnant from 2021 to 2022.
- Other regions, like Georgia and the U.K., have seen significant growth in hosting scripted TV productions.
Fee Hikes and Their Implications
On July 1, FilmL.A. announced rate hikes on a range of fees required to obtain shooting permits in the region. While some of these increases were tied to inflation, others, such as rider, photo, and notification fees, saw markups ranging from 8 to 17 percent. Additionally, the agency introduced entirely new administrative fees for complex filming requests. These include permits for drone usage, helicopter shots, special effects, lane and street closures, and simulated gunfire.
Among the changes, a notable shift was in the permit structure. Previously, a permit accommodating up to 10 locations for $863 over 14 days now only allows for five locations at $895 over seven days. This restructuring could potentially triple the permitting costs for large-scale projects, depending on the shoot’s duration and number of locations.
The Broader Impact on Filming in Los Angeles
While these fee hikes might not be substantial enough to deter filmmakers on their own, they add to a growing list of reasons pushing productions to consider other filming locations. A location manager, who has worked on major productions, mentioned that these changes make many reconsider and think, “Why don’t we shoot this in Canada?” emphasizing that “L.A. is already so film-unfriendly.”
FilmL.A. president Paul Audley defended the changes, stating that they moved away from a “one-size-fits-all” pricing model. He highlighted that most productions would not be affected as 93 percent of permits issued are for five or fewer locations, and 82 percent last for fewer than seven days.
The Bigger Picture: Shifting Filming Locations
Beyond the fee hikes, the broader trend shows a shift in preferred filming locations. Tax credits, which effectively subsidize movies and TV shows, have become crucial for getting projects greenlit. Major production hubs like Los Angeles and New York are losing favor as productions are drawn to areas with more generous incentive programs and lower labor costs.
An analysis by FilmL.A. revealed that while L.A. remains the top filming location in the U.S. for scripted content, its growth remained flat from 2021 to 2022. In contrast, regions like Georgia and the U.K. saw significant increases in hosting scripted TV productions.
Georgia’s Film Industry: A Magnet for Productions
Georgia has rapidly emerged as a prime destination for filmmakers, thanks to its lucrative film tax credits and a robust infrastructure that supports large-scale productions. The Peach State’s rise as a major player in the film industry is no accident; it’s the result of strategic decisions and investments.
Lucrative Film Tax Credits
At the heart of Georgia’s appeal is its generous film tax credit program. Productions can earn up to 30% in tax credits on their qualified in-state expenditures. This includes everything from actor salaries to set construction and post-production services. An additional uplift of 10% is available if the finished project includes a promotional logo provided by the state.
These tax credits are also transferable. If a production company doesn’t have enough tax liability in Georgia to use the entire credit, they can sell it to another taxpayer in the state, making it an attractive proposition for both filmmakers and local businesses.
A Boon for the Local Economy
The benefits of Georgia’s film-friendly policies extend beyond just the filmmakers. The local economy has seen a significant boost, with billions of dollars in direct spending since the tax credit’s inception. Hotels, restaurants, rental agencies, and other local businesses have all benefited from the influx of film crews and the subsequent tourism the popular films and TV shows bring.
Infrastructure and Talent Pool
Georgia’s film success isn’t solely due to its tax incentives. The state has invested heavily in infrastructure, with world-class studios like Pinewood Atlanta and Tyler Perry Studios offering state-of-the-art facilities. Coupled with a growing local talent pool, both in front of and behind the camera, Georgia provides a complete package for filmmakers.
While Los Angeles grapples with its challenges, states like Georgia are capitalizing on the opportunity, offering filmmakers not just financial incentives but a holistic environment conducive to creativity and production. As the film industry continues to evolve, Georgia’s model serves as a testament to the power of strategic incentives and infrastructure investment.
Los Angeles, once the unrivaled heart of the film industry, is facing challenges that might be reshaping the landscape of film production. With the recent fee hikes by FilmL.A. and the allure of more generous incentives in other regions, filmmakers are re-evaluating their choices. As the industry continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how Los Angeles will adapt to retain its iconic status in the world of film.
First Published on Project Casting