L.A. Production Soars in February

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Commercials production in Los Angeles rose to record levels in February, according to numbers released by the Entertainment Industry Development Corporation (EIDC). The EIDC recorded 868 location shooting days for commercials last month, the highest monthly total since the organization started tracking shooting days in 1993. The previous record was 810, recorded in January 2001 -- shortly after the SAG strike. The February spike marks the fifth straight month that the EIDC's tally has posted year-to-year gains -- in this case jumping 53 percent compared to a year ago.

"In November and December I've seen the most boards I've seen in four or five years, easily," says Carolyn Hill, head of commercial sales at New York Office, which repesents production companies and below-the-line talent on both coasts. Jamie Miller, a producer at L.A.-based production company Villains, agrees. "We're riding a big wave right now," he says. "It's definitely a lot busier than it has been for the last year and a half."

Insiders attribute the increase, in part, to the weaker dollar, which makes shooting in the U.S. more attractive than shooting abroad.

"Yes, it's busy and it's been busy," says Steve Caplan, senior VP for external affairs at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP). "Those are obviously significant numbers. However, it is just one month. We hope it will continue into the future. We're cautiously optimistic. Let's see if this is a four- to six-month trend, and then we'll see if it's a long-term recovery."

Through February, L.A. commercials production is off to the best start since the boom year of 1997, handily outpacing 2003 by 30 percent.

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