March 26, 2014

Horry County closer to motion picture, film ordinance

Horry County is poised to consider an ordinance regulating filming for television or lower-budget movies in the county, and it’s getting the support of the Carolina Film Alliance.

Horry County is poised to consider an ordinance regulating filming for television or lower-budget movies in the county, and it’s getting the support of the Carolina Film Alliance.

The county has been working on the ordinance for months amid challenges some communities – namely Georgetown County and Myrtle Beach – have had related to filming of reality shows. CMT’s “Party Down South” was filmed in Murrells Inlet and “Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor” is filmed in Myrtle Beach.

Horry administrators wanted to take an approach that prepared the county in the event someone wanted to film in its unincorporated areas. The proposed ordinance is aimed at protecting residents by requiring ample notice, filming hours and proper notification for those being impacted by the filming.

The Carolina Film Alliance and the Carolina Film Commission met with the county’s administrators to make sure the restrictions did not prohibit production companies from filming in the county.

Adam Enrick, senior planner with Horry County, told the county’s public safety committee this week that after county officials met with both the alliance and the commission, he thinks the ordinance is ready for consideration by the full council.

“I’m not going to say they’re in love with it, but they say they can work with this as it’s currently written,” Enrick said of the commission and alliance.

Linda Lee, vice president and founding member of the film alliance, said Wednesday that the group is pleased with it as it is being proposed.

“We’re fine with it,” Lee said. “It’s flexible. There are exceptions to some of the things that concerned us that the county administrators can have discretion on.”

The proposed ordinance would allow filming in unincorporated Horry County from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. only. A full traffic and parking plan would be required.

Also, residents within 300 feet of filming would be notified, which is why the county would require a 45-day notice. The notice could be waived by the county administrator depending on the size, scale and potential impact of the filming.

The revised ordinance exempts higher-budget films, or those that have applied for state-issued incentives, from having to jump through hoops similar to what the state had already required them to do. For example, a film with more than a $1 million budget could apply to the state for incentives to film in South Carolina. This ordinance would allow those films to forego some of the basic requirements those companies already completed when applying for the state incentives.

Paul Whitten, assistant county administrator for public safety, said small productions, school groups and news productions also are not impacted by the proposed ordinance, which is slated to have its first of three required readings on April 1.

“The problem is the middle tier,” Whitten said.

Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes said the ordinance will help law enforcement if a company decides to film in the county.

“It most certainly will,” Rhodes said. “So far, luckily for us, the last one was in the city of Myrtle Beach and then in Georgetown County.

“I think this will probably prevent us from having some issues, if we keep it under control ahead of time.”

Lee said she understands Horry County’s efforts to make sure its residents have a say-so in filming.

“They have to protect themselves and they have to protect their citizens,” Lee said. “They want to be sure everyone has a way of reacting to whatever is going on and I think this ordinance covers that.”

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