“The fact is that in New Mexico you can film five film productions at the same time,” Waldman said.
“You have enough resources who are there. In North Carolina you can film 10 film productions at the same time. So they can really go wherever they want to.”
With cost as a major concern, studios will not make movies locally simply because of the benefits to the area, Levy said.
“They have no scruples about where they make a movie, so they’re going to shoot a movie wherever it makes the most economic sense,” Levy said.
The decline in local productions was likely a major contributor to the decline in entertainment industry work, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation report.
In 2008, the industry workforce of 141,400 in Los Angeles County was down from its all-time peak in 1997 of 148,600 jobs, but lost 9,000 jobs in the last year alone, the report said.
While no specific figures were available for Glendale or Burbank, the cities account for significant portions of entertainment industry workers and are home to the major studios that employ them, Kyser said.
“No matter who you talk to, people that work in the industry say it’s very difficult to get a job, and that means they’re going to reduce their spending in retail,” Kyser said. “Some of them have lost cars and may have lost their homes, so that has an impact on the community.”
The impact passes on through businesses that serve the entertainment industry, from caterers and costume shops to rental houses and post-production companies, many of which are in Glendale and Burbank, where the entertainment industry accounts for the majority of economic activity, experts say.
Total film productions made in the area have also plummeted, according to the group.
Feature-film activity has declined in Los Angeles and other county areas for which permits are issued by the nonprofit FilmLA, an area that includes the Burbank Unified School District.
While there was an all-time high of 13,980 permitted days for feature films in 1996, that figure shrank to an all-time low of 4,976 days in 2009, according to FilmLA.
That decrease has likely been tied directly to job losses, because even production of a mid-budget film of $32 million, for example, creates 141 direct jobs, 425 indirect jobs and generates $4.1 million in sales and income taxes, according to the report.