Published: July 17, 2014 at 8:08 AM
I probably wouldn't even go as far to say that Anon...
The number of productions filming in Hollywood has been relatively steady over the past 10 or so years. However, the percentage of total productions filming in California has probably decreased. There are simply far more shows filming now than in the past to feed the amount of content necessary to fill so many more networks than just a decade ago. The term "57 Channels and Nothing On" was apropos in the 90's when Bruce Springsteen penned it, but is nothing compared to the amount of content necessary to fill the schedules of hundreds of cable, satellite, and internet channels. There's just far more content and more productions than there were 10 years ago, meaning that Hollywood either needed to increase the number of stages and studios, or productions would need to look elsewhere. Now, the tax incentives and other perks of filming in other locations certainly has an effect, but based on the existing inventory of studios and soundstages in Southern California, it would be difficult (and expensive) to have the same percentage of productions filming in the region as there were a decade ago.
However, there's no doubt that producers are crude business people, and will do whatever it takes to shrink productions costs. SyFy actually leased a portion of the Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii to film multiple movies because it was easier and cheaper to lease the locations and film multiple movies at once rather than scout locations one at a time (Kualoa Ranch is a famous filming location for Jurassic Park, Lost, and many others). So, yes, if producers think it's going to be cheaper to shoot on location in New Mexico (Breaking Bad), Vancouver (Battlestar Galactic and many other Syfy shows), Georgia (Walking Dead), and others, they'll do it, but still for many productions, it can be cheaper and more efficient to shoot in California. Most multi-camera productions still shoot in California, along with most game shows, many reality TV shows, and a lot of late night programming.
Viewers and fans have also encouraged this push to film on location with the obsessive attention to detail and desire to see more and more diverse content. Producers can no longer fool savvy viewers with HD TVs like they could on an 80's "boob" tube. Consumers want as close to the real thing as they can get, and a set on a sound stage detailed enough to look like the real place when view on an HDTV can often be more expensive to shoot on than the real location, even with travel and other considerations (the same can go with green screen with more productions finding cheaper ways to shoot on green screen stages and insert CGI that can be as cost effective as filming on location or on a dressed set).
There are also a number of locations where producers would love to film that they can't because it is cost prohibitive, like Washington, DC (where I live). It drives me crazy to watch any movie or TV that is set in DC that obviously doesn't film here, or when they do, they only do second unit work, which is sloppily thrown into establishing shots and transitions.