As 2021 winds down, I am reminded of how far our industry has come since the year began. At that time, after many months of shutdowns, production had slowly started to resume — first commercials, then reality programs and, eventually, scripted series.
I’ve said it many times in this space, but I can’t say it enough: television professionals are a resilient bunch, and when faced with a problem, we don’t give up — we give our all to solving it. Covid-19 presented a formidable challenge, but we adapted and implemented precautions that are now routine, allowing us to return to work with confidence.
The result: production is surging. According to an October report from FilmLA, production levels in the third quarter of this year were the highest since 2018. And the number of shoot days from July 1 through September 30 marked the third-highest quarter for Los Angeles–area production in twenty-six years.
The numbers were also noteworthy in contrast to 2020 — a year-over-year rise of 141 percent. And they are expected to continue to climb, spurred by increasing demand for programming among the broadcast networks, cable outlets and streaming services, as well as the new platforms jumping into the original content game.
While the Los Angeles area is already the world leader in production facilities, with an estimated 5.2 million square feet of soundstage capacity, studio space is one of the fastest-growing construction sectors in the region. According to news reports this fall, hundreds of thousands of square feet of production space — including soundstages, editing suites, prop mills, staff offices and more — are either in the planning stage or under construction in Hollywood, downtown L.A., Burbank and Sun Valley.
Beyond southern California, new or expanded production facilities have also been reported in New York and New Jersey, and abroad, in Vancouver and London.
A greater demand for programming plus a surge in studio space equals more opportunities for Academy members and thousands of other talented TV professionals to apply their skills, from newcomers just breaking into the business to veterans with years or even decades of experience.
All these factors — combined with an apparently successful negotiation between IATSE and the AMPTP (at press time, the sides had agreed on terms, but IATSE members had not yet voted on a new contract) — point to a positive outlook for 2022 and beyond, for individuals, families and the wider economy.
And, as always, the Television Academy will continue to provide networking and professional development opportunities to help our members grow and learn throughout their careers.
Until next time, happy holidays and all the best for the New Year!
Chairman and CEO, Television Academy