TV pilot productions leave LA for NYC: Report

The TV spotlight is shifting to New York City from Los Angeles.

The Big Apple has eaten away at Los Angeles’ dominance in TV production, with more one-hour shows being produced and picked up for series in the most recent pilot season, according to a report by FilmL.A., a nonprofit that tracks film production in that city.

The report credited New York state’s 30% tax break for productions that began in 2009 as the leading incentive for production companies shooting here.

City and state leaders said their years of work enticing companies to film here has paid off and benefited all New Yorkers.

“When you see a crew on the streets of New York, you’re actually seeing your fellow New Yorkers hard at work, and these productions support over 4,000 local businesses and generate $7.1 billion to the local economy,” Cynthia López, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment said in a statement yesterday.

Although Los Angeles had 90 total projects in the 2013-14 pilot season compared to New York, which had 35, Gotham had five more dramas — and that’s where the money is for the city economy. Half-hour sitcoms shot in studios tend to have smaller budgets, cheaper sets and shoot quicker than dramas on TV.

The year before the tax break took effect, only 10 pilots were produced in New York while L.A, had 59, and every year since then New York saw an increase.

Los Angeles’ share of TV drama pilots dropped from 63% in 2006 to 17%.

Some of the successful 2014 pilots that filmed in New York include ABC’s supernatural mystery “Forever,” the Batman prequel show “Gotham” on Fox and the NBC police procedural “Mysteries of Laura.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded the incentives to include post-production work; his office said the breaks helped create 18,000 jobs this year.

“Cuomo has made the entertainment industry a key component of our economic development strategy and the results are clearly paying off,” said Kenneth Adams, the president of Empire State Development, which manages the state’s film production services.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Office of Media and Entertainment made sure that the five boroughs led the way when it came to recruiting productions interested in taking advantage of the breaks offered by the “Made in NY” campaign.

The initiative highlighted financial benefits to producers and showcased the city’s iconography.
In addition to New York’s talent pool and abundance of quality locations, the department highlighted facilities such as Steiner Studios and Silvercup Studios, which have expanded in the last decade.

The Film L.A. report added that the increase in streaming video services such as Netflix Prime helped provide New York with a valuable opportunity to take its TV industry into a new phase.

This summer, Disney is set to spend $200 million for 60 episodes of Netflix shows based on the Marvel superheroes “The Defenders,” the biggest production the city has ever seen.

When he announced those shows in February, Cuomo said competition for the project’s filming location was “fierce,” but the filmmakers wanted to shoot it in New York in order to authentically capture the setting.

Lopez said her office and the De Blasio administration will bring in more television productions and give New York industry workers a taste of what their West Coast counterparts have enjoyed for decades.

“As the number of pilots filming in New York City increases, it means more opportunities for New Yorkers who make their living and support their families working behind the scenes in the film and television industry,” she said.