California’s long-awaited expansion of the Film and TV Tax Credit Program is still months away, but things are starting to look up for the state in the high stakes of broadcast pilot production. After hitting a new low last year with a measly five drama pilots and slipping to 85% of comedy pilot production, Los Angeles regained some ground with seven drama pilots, tying Vancouver and last year’s leader New York for No. 1. The city also has upped its total this year to 93% of the comedy pilots, including straight-to-series Telenovela at NBC.
But the drama pilot total is still the second-lowest tally for LA, below the 2013 total of 12. What’s more, Los Angeles’ pilot production comes from only two studios, Warner Bros. TV and ABC Studios, with everyone else shunning the City of Angels — not the first time multiple major TV producers have stayed away in filming their drama pilots.
Another gainer this year is Canada. Always attractive because of lower costs, Canada is even more appealing at the moment because of the favorable currency exchange rate. Vancouver, U.S. TV studios’ favorite Canadian destination because it is in the same time zone as LA, hosts seven drama pilots this season to tie for the No. 1 spot on the list for the first time. That was two pilots more than last year, on par with Vancouver’s 2013 tally. Toronto also went up a notch, from two to three drama pilots.
What’s more, Canada broke new ground this year by providing locations for two single-camera comedy broadcast pilots — NBC’s Strange Calls in Vancouver and CBS’ Taxi-22 in Toronto. (Last season saw the first U.S. comedy pilot filming in London, ABC’s Galavant). That brings the number of broadcast pilots filming in Canada this year to a record 12, indicating there is a long ways to go in curbing runaway production. For instance, Universal TV is filming all of its drama pilots north of the border.
While both Canada-bound comedy pilots are enjoying financial benefits, Strange Calls also is taking advantage of the scenery around Vancouver as a stand-in for the Pacific Northwest, where the comedy is set. Meanwhile, Taxi-22 is poised for extra incentives as the comedy is based on a Quebec format, with the original series’ auspices, who are Canadians, involved in the CBS adaptation. If Taxi-22 goes to series, its production will be based in New York where the remake is set.
New York would use the extra boost because, after flying high for the last few seasons following the state adopting its very generous incentives package, the Big Apple is seeing a rare drop in broadcast pilot production. Six dramas and one comedy pilot, NBC’s Sharing, will be filmed in New York this season, down from last year’s all-time high 10 drama and five comedy pilots. That includes straight-to-series NBC drama Shades Of Blue.
Georgia’s lucrative incentives have propelled Atlanta to fourth place overall with four drama pilots, twice as many as last year. Other popular locations with generous tax breaks — Texas, Chicago and New Orleans — are staying in contention with two drama pilots each.
Virtually all broadcast pilots this season are filming in North America, with only ABC’s biblical drama Of Kings And Prophets shooting in South Africa.
Here is the list of all broadcast drama pilots with locations as well as the three comedy pilots filming outside California. All 40 other half-hour pilots are shooting in LA:
1. The Advocate (ABC/WBTV); plus a day in L.A.
2. Dead People (The CW/WBTV)
3. Mix (ABC/WBTV)
4. Jenna Bans (ABC/ABCS)
5. Unveiled (NBC/Uni TV)
6. Heart Matters (NBC/Uni TV)
7. Tales Of The Darkside (CW/CBSTV)
8. Strange Calls (half-hour, NBC/20th TV)
1. Blindspot (NBC/WBTV)
2. Doubt (CBS/CBSTV)
3. Limitless (CBS/CBSTV)
4. LFE (CBS/CBSTV)
5. For Justice (CBS/CBSTV)
6. Sneaky Pete (CBS/Sony TV)
7. Shades Of Blue (straight-to-series, NBC/Universal TV)
8. Sharing (half-hour, NBC/Uni TV)
1. Game Of Silence (NBC/Sony TV)
2. The Kingmakers (ABC/ABCS)
3. Quantico (ABC/ABCS)
4. Cordon (The CW/WBTV)
1. Minority Report (Fox/20th TV)
2. Warrior (NBC/Uni TV)
3. Cheerleader Death Squad (CW/CBSTV)
4. Taxi-22 (half-hour, CBS/CBSTV)
1. Love Is A Four Letter Word (NBC/20th TV)
2. Runner (ABC/20th TV)
1. Scream Queens (straight-to-series, Fox/20th TV)
2. Zoo (straight-to-series summer series, CBS/CBS TV)
1. Frankenstein (Dallas, Fox/20th TV)
2. The Catch (Austin, ABC/ABCS)
Endgame (Albuquerque/Las Vegas, NBC/Sony TV)
Untitled Todd Hartlan (Miami, CBS/CBSTV)
Boom (Northern Utah, ABC/ABCS)
Broad Squad (Boston, ABC/ABCS)
The Curse Of The Fuentes Women (Puerto Rico, NBC/WBTV)
Of Kings and Prophets (Cape Town, South Africa, ABC/ABCS)
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Wow! New York has as many TV pilots as Vancouver, and L.A has only one less! Way to go Producers! But, but, but….
The Ol’ SAG Watchdog
*Photo selected by Watchdog.