Council tackles ins and outs of filming in county

  • Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Georgetown County Council moved a step closer to regulating filming within the county after giving second reading to the “Film Ordinance” on Tuesday night.
Filming within the county, whether on public or private property, will now require a permit, payment of a $1,000 permit fee, and submission of a detailed parking plan. The county can charge additional fees for the use of county facilities and staff.
Applications for permits will be have to be submitted at least 45 days before filming is scheduled to start, and county staff will have as long as they want to review and make a decision on the permit. No more than two permits will be issued within 1,000 feet of each other.
Permit holders will be required to have $1 million in general liability insurance, $1 million in automobile liability insurance, and $1 million in worker’s compensation and employer’s liability insurance.
At least 30 days before filming is scheduled to begin, the film company will have to give written notice to all businesses and residents within 500 feet of a filming location . Copies of the notice will also have to be given to the county.
The company will not be able to do any filming, staging, site work or preparation in the county before a permit is issued. If a permit is issued, these activities are restricted to the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. in Murrells Inlet and on Waccamaw Neck. Moving of equipment is also restricted to these hours in Murrells Inlet and on Waccamaw Neck.
Any lighting used for filming will have to be shielded from residences and from the ocean after dark.
Use of anything that involves “flames or incendiary devices” will require a permit from a county fire company and will be prohibited in residential areas.
Much of the enforcement of the ordinance lies with the county administrator, who has the right to: determine the number of cast and crew members and what constitutes filming, storage, staging, site work or preparation; limit permits in certain areas; restrict or revoke permits during natural disasters or other emergencies; and cancel, stop filming or issue citations if the ordinance is being violated.
The county administrator also has the right to “change, modify, update or waive” the provisions of the ordinance.
The county Sheriff’s Office can also stop filming and issue citations. Should any part of the ordinance be ruled non-enforceable by a judge or court, the remainder of the ordinance will stay in effect.
The idea for an ordinance came about after a television production company began filming a reality series in Murrells Inlet. Residents were outraged that the county had given permits for the filming and urged Council to adopt a set of standards for future projects.
Leon Rice lives next door to the house where the series was filmed and was “personally impacted.”
He said his family was “surprised and overwhelmed” when a crew showed up and started filming. He’s read the new ordinance and likes it. He thanked Council for taking action.
The ordinance does not apply to news or press conferences, students working on film projects for school, or a production with a staff or three people or less.
The ordinance went through five major revisions and was reviewed by county staff, attorneys and residents before being presented to County Council.
Final approval is expected at council’s next meeting on Oct. 22.

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