CONWAY — Horry County is considering an ordinance regulating the motion picture and film industries that some are saying, according to one county official, will ruin the county’s chance of getting anything filmed here.
The ordinance, which was deferred Thursday by the county’s public safety committee to its infrastructure and regulation committee in January, mirrors one adopted by Georgetown County in October. Both ordinances, if Horry opts to adopt its current draft, would require a 45-day notice for production companies to notify Horry County of its intention to film. That recommendation bucks the request of the South Carolina Film Commission who suggested five days, said Adam Enrick, senior planner with the county.
“This is the one that everyone has had a problem with that I have talked to and that’s the 45-day time period,” Enrick said. “We had originally wrote in a 10-day period.”
But county officials like Paul Whitten, assistant administrator with the county, wanted the ordinance to mirror the county’s special events ordinance, which requires the 45-day notice and allows for residents to be notified of what is going on.
“My concern is that if you do it five days, which is what the film industry wants, there’s no way you can notify citizens,” Whitten said. “There’s no way you can get feedback. If it’s denied, there’s no way that there can be an appeal.
“Five days is just impossible. There’s a trade off when you cut days, and that’s normally notification and being able to process it.”
Enrick said he has already fielded calls about the ordinance.
“Every group that has seen this, from the film industry, has said that that is going to completely ruin any chance of getting film here in the county,” he said.
Tom Clark of the South Carolina Film Commission could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The rest of the ordinance, which is also similar to Georgetown County’s ordinance, requires the filming company to notify residents around where the filming is going to be, list a cell phone number of someone in the production company to help address any concerns and limits the time of filming between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. There are also provisions for violating the noise ordinance, lighting regulations and traffic control. It also gives the county the right to revoke a permit because of a natural disaster or if the county feels it needs to revoke it.
Georgetown County adopted its ordinance this year in response to CMT bringing film crews in to tape “The Dirty South” – a reality show that was filmed in Murrells Inlet this summer. The reaction from residents was mixed as some enjoyed the exposure the coastal community was receiving while others complained of noise and trash.
Councilman Al Allen wanted to make sure the county took its time with the issue.
“You’re talking about an industry and if we want to attract them, we want to be extremely careful because we all know the current issues,” Allen said. “This is something that I think we really need to put some thought into.”
“I don’t believe that there’s anything that’s time sensitive,” Whitten said. “I think we’d do better to have it right than to have it fast.”
Allen said he would like to see the county be inviting to film companies and referenced the Hallmark channel’s TV movie “Christmas in Conway,” which was filmed in Wilmington, N.C.
“The next movie that I watch that’s called “Christmas in Conway,” I’d love to see it filmed in Conway,” he said.
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.