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If you want to be in the entertainment industry, you need to live in Los Angeles. That’s always been the common refrain from those offering guidance to wannabe stars, but thanks to the strange world of tax incentives and the burgeoning film industries in other markets, the advice should now probably read: if you want to be in the entertainment industry, you may need to move out of Los Angeles, at least for part of the year.
For the first time in the history of the television industry, more drama pilots were filmed in New York City during this past cycle than in Los Angeles. In fact, 83% of all total drama pilots were filmed outside of LA with Atlanta, Vancouver and Toronto taking their own sizeable percentages, which is neither good news for Hollywood’s reputation nor its pocketbook.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the average drama pilot costs between $6 million and $8 million to film. A whole lot of that money winds up going to local businesses and local workers. As little as a decade ago, damn near all of these funds went to Los Angeles, but as other cities and states have started offering tax incentives and easier access to permits, the city of Los Angeles has begun losing more and more.
That would be fine for most other cities, but considering Los Angeles has built much of its identity around the film community and attracts a fair percentage of its tourism from movie buffs, that’s more than just a simple loss of revenue. Throw in all the dedicated film professionals who need regular freelance jobs to earn a living and something needs to be done to stem the tide.
As for comedy pilots, the situation is a little rosier for the City of Angels. 76% of laughers are still shot in Southern California. That figure too has dropped over the last seven years, but one would imagine that’s a percentage the movers and shakers in California can live with. Unfortunately, comedies are way cheaper too shoot, which means way less money is poured into the local economy.
Fortunately, there may be signs of recovery on the horizon. California’s Legislature is currently debating a bill that would greatly extend tax credits that have been strengthened in the past few years, and programs like Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars and Justified have already returned or vowed to make a return for their next season.