A revised, less-restrictive resolution regulating Hollywood filming in Hall County quickly cleared the Board of Commissioners on Thursday.
The original regulations included a $500 daily fee for road closures and a $1,500 daily fee for use of the Hall County Courthouse. The resolution unanimously approved on Thursday only requires film crews pay a $100 daily fee and a $75 application fee while leaving open the option for steeper fees “considering the duration and scope of any particular project,” the ordinance states.
Payments are due before the start of a project when the application from the county is issued.
Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Times on Thursday that she’s pleased with the new resolution, which is “very general in its scope and allows for flexibility in permitting based on the project’s requests,” she said.
The version of the resolution approved on Thursday was drafted with input from both the visitors bureau and the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment office.
The new fee structure isn’t intended to replace the initial fee structure, according to Dickson, but instead will be a minimum fee while giving county staff the ability to estimate additional costs of accommodating film crews.
Susan Rector, the director of the county’s business license office that will issue applications to film crews, said the intent of the regulations is to ensure that Hall County and its residents are “treated respectfully” and to “ensure that (film crews) are good neighbors to us while they’re here.”
Citizen complaints about property damage and disruptive activity caused by filming led the county to pursue new regulations.
Additional fees and other requirements of film crews will be decided by a committee including Rector, Dickson and representatives from the Hall County sheriff’s office and fire department.
There were no comments from commissioners during the meeting.
Dickson was initially skeptical of the new regulations and told commissioners on March 9 that the relatively rigid rules and steep fees would keep crews from filming in the county.
The resolution still requires film crews to notify the Hall County business license office of their intentions and apply for a permit before they begin a project. Dickson said this aspect of the regulations will be a “major improvement to our current process,” which requires little notice.
It doesn’t apply to noncommercial filming, newsgathering or filming that is deemed to be for a public purpose. The resolution references commercial still photography in its definitions, noting that it’s subject to the application process, but Rector said the intent of the county and resolution is to regulate only large-scale film production.
“We’re talking about motion picture filming or television shows – production,” Rector said after the commission meeting. “We’re not talking about someone who is just wanting to do random photography, whether it’s landscapes, portraits, whatever. That’s not the intent.”
Dickson said Hall County’s proximity to both Atlanta and Lake Lanier make it a popular spot for filming. She said her bureau gets “dozens of location requests each year,” but only about one in 10 make it to production.