Conyers adopts film policy for Olde Town

CONYERS — The city of Conyers has approved its first film policy in an effort to establish guidelines for existing and future film productions that will take place in the city limits.

“This is just a policy for now because we feel this will be a moving document for a while,” said Conyers Chief Operating Officer David Spann at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Conyers has been the site of several film and television productions, and Olde Town is now the location for a new television show, “The Originals,” which is a spinoff of the popular television show, “Vampire Diaries,” that is filmed in Covington.

A committee was created to develop a filming policy that could eventually evolve into a city ordinance. The members of that committee included Spann, Council member and Olde Town business owner Vince Evans, Conyers Police Department Sgt. Guy Sanders, Main Street Manager Monica Coffin, Camera Ready Liaison Gina Hartsell and Conyers Director of Public Relations and Tourism Jennifer Edwards.

Spann pointed out some of the specific provisions included in the new policy.

• Production companies must now complete a filming permit application that will include the dates and times of the filming and any roads that will be affected. The application must be submitted 21 days prior to the starting date of proposed filming. Additional permits will be required “per episode for television productions or per shoot for movie productions,” the policy states. Those permits will be due five days prior to the proposed starting date of filming.

• Affected businesses and residents must be notified at least five days prior to planned filming and the production companies are encouraged to consult with the Main Street manager for a calendar of events in the area.

• The policy also requires that the production companies compensate businesses that will be impacted during set up, filming and breakdown of sets. Specific compensation is to be worked out between the production company and individual businesses.

• Any film activity that would disrupt the normal flow of traffic must first be approved by the city. Any traffic control must be provided by off-duty Conyers Police Department officers and paid for by the production company. Street closures are strongly discouraged, the policy states.

• The policy also seeks to minimize the impact to parking in the Olde Town area. Parking spaces on Main, Center, Commercial and northern Railroad streets “is strongly discouraged and will only be granted with minimal exceptions and associated fees,” the policy states.

Production companies can negotiate with nearby churches but are not permitted to use the Rockdale County Government Administration and courthouse lots unless specifically allowed by the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners. The same restriction is applied for Pine Street Elementary School and approval for parking must be given by the Rockdale County Board of Education.

• The policy provides for fees for street closures and parking spaces. It will cost $150 per street per day for street closures for feature films and $50 per street per day for television programs and all other filming requests.

Parking spaces in the Olde Town Conyers Business District may be reserved for $25 per space. This fee will not be imposed if the street is already scheduled to be closed for filming.

• A certified structural engineer and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission must approve any structures that will be added to any buildings in Olde Town for filming purposes. Roof access in Olde Town is strictly prohibited without the permission of the building owner.

• Any construction, cabling, placing of equipment must be done in a way that will not impact access to sidewalks or roads so that they remain in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Evans said the purpose of the film policy is to establish a workable policy that will allow filmmakers to film movies and television shows in Olde Town, but at the same time not negatively impact businesses trying to operate there.

“The message we want to get out is, we are happy to have you here, but you can’t impede business,” he said. “This is just a starting point, but it’s very fluid. I think this is a great first step.”

Evans said that the committee created this policy after looking at several other cities’ film policies, including the cities of Covington, Roswell, Newnan and Senoia.

The city of Covington’s film policy was adopted in December and includes many of the same provisions as Conyers’.

Rockdale County’s film policy, which was recently adopted, is much more general. Under its policy, pricing is negotiable depending on the scope and duration of the project and availability of the land and facilities requested for use. Negotiations are to be conducted by Chief of Staff Gerald Sanders and County Attorney Qader Baig.