FilmLA Sees Uptick in Film Permit Applications to 18 a Day

Dave McNary
·3-min read

FilmLA is reporting that 18 film permit applications are being submitted per day since resuming remote operations on June 15 — about 34% of the pre-pandemic level.

The number of daily applications for location shooting in Los Angeles has risen from the average of 14 it reported on July 1. FilmLA, which closed down in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said it has received approximately 577 film permit applications from 422 unique projects since it re-opened, with only 9% of those for film and television projects.

More from Variety

Nearly two-thirds of the applications cover activity in the advertising industry, such as still photography and commercials. The agency said reality TV production has also started to resume but cautions that overall activity will remain low until scripted television and feature production pick up – which is expected in early September.

FilmLA president Paul Audley told Variety that a handful of film and TV projects have been shooting in Los Angeles, recently including pandemic drama “Songbird,” starring K.J. Apa and Sofia Carson with Michael Bay producing. Other features include “The Prom” and “7th & Union.” Reality shows include “Botched” and “The Masked Singer” (for parking), while TV dramas include “Love in the Time of Corona” and stage permits for “Snowfall” and “Big Shot.”

Audley said producers have been compliant with Los Angeles County’s required set safety protocols, known as Appendix J.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that there are few other industries seeking to reopen as responsibly as the film business,” noted Audley. “Hundreds of smaller projects have successfully applied safe set practices as outlined in state and local public health orders. Meanwhile, continuing dialogue between studio and labor representatives is driving focused attention to cast, crew and vendor safety and compliance.”

In mid-June, Hollywood’s major unions released extensive back-to-work guidelines for resuming production amid the pandemic, with a heavy emphasis on testing as they unveiled a 36-page report titled “The Safe Way Forward,” although overall agreements with the studios have not yet been hammered out. Around the same time, the state of California gave its blessing for film and TV production to resume, subject to approval from county public health authorities.

Audley said permits are being processed in about two or three days. Half of FilmLA’s staff of 108 was furloughed in early April and Audley noted that the agency has been hit financially by the slowdown since its operating revenues are derived from the permit fees.

He also said the agency has continued to receive occasional reports of illegal filming at the same levels as during pre-pandemic periods. That information is automatically passed on to the Los Angeles Police Department.

“As production continues to pick up, it’s essential that the hosting communities are assured about the industry’s commitment to safety,” added Audley. “Being closed to the public, the physical film production environment is among the safer work settings available to essential workers in California. The presence of a film company, working with a valid permit and adhering fully to County health orders, is something we hope local communities will welcome.”

(To see a larger version of the above chart, click here.)

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.