Almost everyone in Hollywood wants to get back to work. What's taking so long?

Christi Carras and Marisa Gerber, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

After working nonstop on TV sets for almost all of 2022, unit production manager Matt Baker decided to take the rest of the year off. He looked forward to relaxing, playing golf and spending quality time with his wife and daughter. He expected to return to work after the holidays.

Things did not go as planned. Baker has not been employed on a film or TV set since October 2022.

“I was ... pretty keenly aware that we were going through a change in the industry, and there was going to be some consolidation, and I think the strikes had a lot of effect on how the studios were going to move forward,” said Baker, who has worked on TV series such as Hulu’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” and ABC’s “Modern Family.”

“It wasn’t going to be like gangbusters like it was in ’21 and ’22,” he added. “But I never in a million years thought that it would be this slow.”

The Lake Balboa resident is far from the only entertainment professional in Los Angeles who has struggled to find work in the months prior to, during and following last year’s writers’ and actors’ strikes.

By the end of 2022, filming activity in the Greater Los Angeles area had already been on the decline, according to FilmLA, a nonprofit organization that tracks on-location shoot days and filming permits in the region. This downward trend was compounded by the overlapping work stoppages, which effectively shut down filming across the United States for six months.


Additionally, in the aftermath of the streaming wars — which saw several companies greenlight an excess of content in an effort to compete with Netflix — the studios have been tightening their belts, slashing their staffs, restructuring their businesses and slimming down their production budgets and slates.

The resulting lag poses a significant threat to California, where TV, film and commercial shoots are a sizable driver of employment supporting not just bigwig directors, producers and movie stars but also all the below-the-line laborers, craftspeople and myriad ancillary businesses that keep the industry moving.

“When there is a strike — when there’s a disruption — it affects a whole bunch of different areas that aren’t just simply Hollywood, ranging from tourism to food services to everything else,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of MI finance at the Milken Institute. “Given that 40% of production employment is based in Southern California for the country ... that makes L.A. significantly more important and significantly more impacted when the entertainment industry has a problem.”

Worsening matters, California is finding it particularly hard to bounce back from the walkouts because it’s more expensive to shoot here, multiple production executives told The Times. That makes Los Angeles less attractive to studios looking to cut costs after major industry disruption.


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