Production Index

By Jh Published on .

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After gains in both July and August, the Creativity Production Index - the average number of spots produced by a sample of agency offices - plunged in September. At 8.7, the Index was at its lowest level in its 14-month history, and off 42 percent from last September, the last full month of the SAG strike. Numbers out of the Los Angeles Film Office are slightly more encouraging with commercials production days up 130 percent over last year. In the wake of September 11, however, shooting came to a near standstill in New York, as permits to film in Manhattan were suspended for two weeks.

And while this latest slump has yet to lead to mass closures in the production industry, a few shops have closed their doors, citing the frying-pan-to-fire effects of 9-11, and most agree more will follow suit. San Francisco post house Western Images called it quits after 15 years of business; effects and design shop Click 3x shuttered its Atlanta office; and even industry stalwart Propaganda Films turned to investors for a new round of financing.

Making matters worse is that in late August and early September, workflow was showings signs of a recovery, particularly after Labor Day. "For a week there it was great," says Richard Winkler, executive producer at New York animation house Curious Pictures. And while some new projects are being greenlighted, many have been tabled until the first of the year. "Classic, high-budget mainstream national spots still seem to be waiting in the wings," Winkler says. "Which seems to be smart, because there does seem to be a fair amount of heebie-jeebies and a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop." But how big is the shakeout likely to be? "It depends on how long this goes on," he says.

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