Los Angeles filming has hit a 25-year low amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is sending ripples through several industries that rely on film and television production.
On-location filming in the L.A. area was down 48% from 36,540 shoot days in 2019 to only just 18,993 shoot days in 2020, according to FilmLA, partner film office for the City and County of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions in the region.
“In summary, the impact of COVID-19 on local film 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,” said Paul Audley, president of FilmLA in a statement.
The entertainment industry has increased since October, with production activity picking up in the fourth quarter of 2020 to reach 7,348 shoot days. Nonetheless, compared with the same period in the prior year, overall Quarter 4 production slipped 25.3%.
Reality TV was the biggest television driver in Q4, as networks and streaming platforms scrambled to get more content to viewers.
Year-over-year for the quarter, the number of shoot days for reality TV grew from 1,006 in 2019 to 1,946 in 2020 — a “surprise increase” of 93.4 percent. Even with the pandemic-induced filming moratorium from mid- March to mid-June, annual totals for reality TV in 2020, according to FilmLA.
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the middle of the 2020 pilot season, it is “no surprise” that annual TV pilot activity declined by 61.2%.
“What was to be a solid year for scripted TV was quickly reversed, as production schedules were delayed until the fall of 2020 and/or pushed back into 2021,” said the film office.
The Ripple Felt Across L.A.
Even though it is referred to as “the industry,” a reduction in filming has a ripple effect throughout several sectors in the Los Angeles region.
Lawren Markle, senior director of communications for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) said there are thousands of small businesses and contractors that also rely on the entertainment industry.
“It’s not just the on-set jobs that have been lost,” Markle said. “There are hundreds of thousands of jobs that are contract-based to support the filming.”
Wrap-around industries including catering, sound, lighting, equipment rentals and many others have seen a down-tick in revenue since the pandemic.
These businesses are usually located near film studios, including ones in the Burbank area, but also scattered across the Southland.
Some of the jobs have started to come back in the entertainment industry, but it is only a “fraction” of what there was last year, Markle said.
The LAEDC is urging businesses to follow safety protocols and visit Safer At Work LA for resources on how to keep staff safe.
“It is important to remember to keep everyone safe,” Markle said. “These measures protect both employees and patrons.”
Even though 2020 has seen a decline, there is hope for the filming industry in 2021, as long as the public continues to follow COVID-19 prevention measures to curb the spread.
“We can be seeing a new ‘Golden Age’ in the industry,” Markle said. “There are many productions waiting to be filmed.”
City Of Burbank Extends Outdoor Dining Changes, Commercial Eviction Ordinance
The Burbank City Council approved the extension last week of outdoor dining changes and a commercial eviction ordinance which were enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outdoor dining ordinance is expected to allow restaurants to continue to expanded tables in private parking lots until Dec. 31, unless extended again, according to the City.
Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed County staff to explore options to make similar dining expansions permanent.
Burbank officials said the “devastating economic impacts” of the Safer at Home order are still being felt, citing a loss in jobs across L.A. County.
Many of the jobs lost were in the hospitality industry, however, in the past several months some of these positions are coming back.
“As the pandemic fades, the negative economic impacts will continue,” the dining ordinance said. “As such, the City should consider the welfare of its businesses while protecting the health and wellness of its citizens.”
In addition to the dining expansion, the Burbank City Council also extended the local commercial eviction moratorium until Sept. 30.
The commercial eviction ordinance for commercial tenants does not forgive the payment of rent, but rather acknowledges a commercial tenant is still obligated to pay any missed rent as deferred payments.
Any deferred rent will be due six months after the end of the expiration of the Ordinance in September, unless extended again, according to the City.
This means all deferred rent would be due on March 30, 2022. Additionally, the property owner may not charge or collect interest, late fees or other penalties that could accrue on unpaid rent through the end of the six-month grace period.
Residential evictions continue to fall under Assembly Bill 832, which increases the value of the reimbursement the state’s emergency rental assistance program.
The City Council continues to encourage commercial tenants to pay any portion of the rent they can afford along with speaking with landlords to arrange a repayment plan.
Outdoor Dining Program Extended In L.A. For At Least One Year
Outdoor dining spaces are set to be in place for at least one more year after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a new ordinance extending COVID-19 measures for bars and restaurants.
The emergency ordinance, expected to be codified within the next two weeks, extends the City’s “Al Fresco” program which allows dining areas to expand into parklets, sidewalks, parking lots and other areas near businesses.
After 12 months, the City Council has the option to extend the program for up to two more years, according to the ordinance.
The order also suspends the previous requirement that restaurants provide a minimum number of parking spots for vehicles taken up by the expanded dining area.
L.A. Al Fresco aims to help local businesses reopen safely, and allow customers and employees to maintain physical distancing by temporarily relaxing the rules that regulate outdoor dining.
On May 29, 2020, Garcetti launched the first phase of L.A. Al Fresco to support outdoor dining opportunities for restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, in coordination with the L.A. County Department of Public Health allowing dine-in service at restaurants.
Permits through the program were previously expected to only be valid through Sept. 1, 2021.
This action comes at the heels of a similar extension by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last month.
The supervisors called upon County staff to establish permanent guidelines for expanded outdoor dining spaces in sidewalks, alleys and parking facilities.
“We should make every effort to ensure this program becomes a permanent option for eateries throughout the region,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “This is a valuable resource for the restaurant and hospitality industry, which was devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 closures.”
Tinhorn Flats Evicted From Burbank Property After Repeated Violations
Tinhorn Flats, a Burbank bar that repeatedly deified orders to close during the pandemic, has been evicted from its Magnolia Park building.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department turned over possession of the Tinhorn Flats’ location to the property owner, Isabelle Lepejian, as the last step in the eviction process she initiated against the establishment, according to the City of Burbank.
The eviction proceeding is a separate legal action from the recent temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction issued by the Los Angeles County Superior Court in the City’s civil suit against Tinhorn Flats for continuing to operate after revocation of its public health permit and Conditional Use Permit.
The permanent permit was revoked by the Burbank City Council on Feb. 22, citing Tinhorn Flats’ “flagrant disregard for life safety and violations” of the Los Angeles County Health Officer Orders, which endangered the public health, safety and welfare, along with creating a public nuisance, according to the City.
In March, the building was “red-tagged” as part of multiple attempts to prevent the establishment from operating after COVID-19 violations.
Tinhorn Flats co-owner, Lucas Lepejian, 20, was later arrested after removing sandbags placed by the City of Burbank in front of the establishment to prevent anyone from entering, due to the unsafe conditions, according to the Burbank Police Department (BPD).
Isabelle Lepejian is the mother of Lucas and ex-wife of Baret Lepejian, who is the other co-owner of the establishment.
The Tinhorn Flats owners said they are raising money for a legal defense fund to reopen the restaurant.
“We will not comply with tyrannical rules and closures,” the owners said.