On-location filming dropped by more than 25 percent in the fourth quarter, with reality television showing the only increase, according to figures released Wednesday by FilmL.A. The full year, however, saw the lowest on-location activity in Film L.A.’s 25-year existence.

The Hollywood nonprofit that coordinates location film permits in Los Angeles, unincorporated Los Angeles County and other jurisdictions handled 7,348 on-location shoot days from October through December. That compares to 9,839 shoot days in the same period a year earlier.

The important feature film category decreased by 41 percent to 621 shoot days during the fourth quarter. However, FilmL.A. saw a bit of hope in that number.

“Season patterns aside, recovery for the category could be close at hand,” FilmL.A. said in a press release. “Q4 level for features resemble pre-pandemic levels seen in Q1 of 2020.”

Other projects, a category that includes still photography, music videos, student projects and documentaries, slipped by 57 percent to 1,623 shoot days during the fourth quarter when compared with the same period a year earlier.

Television shows filming on-location increased by 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago. The organization tallied 3,996 TV shoot days in the quarter, compared to 3,761 in the previous year.

The increase was spurred by a jump in reality television production of 93.4 percent, to 1,946 shoot days. Pilots, dramas, web-based programs and comedies all decreased in the quarter.


Commercials accounted for 1,108 shoot days in the quarter, a drop of 14.3 percent from the 1,293 in the previous year.

A shoot day is one crew’s permission to film at one or more locations during a 24-hour period. FilmL.A.’s data does not include activity on soundstages, studio backlots or jurisdictions outside its control.


For the full year, the agency reported a 48 percent decrease in location filming to 18,993 shoot days compared to 36,540 shoot days in 2019. That is the lowest annual production yield that FilmL.A. has reported in 25 years of serving the region.

FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said that the impact of COVID-19 on local production and jobs cannot be overstated.

“With production paused for 87 days and the industry responsible and cautious in returning to work, total annual production fell to unprecedented lows,” Audley said in a statement.