Lights! Camera! Action! What to Know When Hollywood Shoots in Your Community

community association management

Community association management teams – and individual homeowners – across Georgia are offering up locations for film and television production. Georgia’s concerted effort – notably the state’s enticing tax policies – has turned the Peach State into such a showbiz destination. As movie, TV, advertising, and other entertainment productions increase, more associations are contemplating requests to use common areas for shoots. In other cases, owners are approached directly. Allowing production companies to film inside your association can infuse coffers with much needed cash, help gain exposure for your community and give residents the opportunity to see a movie being made.

But allowing filming in your community shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are legal concerns, insurance issues, and potential drawbacks. It can be a massive intrusion as crews descend with large box trucks, generators, huge lights, electrical wires, and other service vehicles. Projects often take longer than expected and crews can damage property. Associations should have legal counsel prepare or review agreements to address filming dates and times, protection of the association’s name and image, hold-harmless and indemnity provisions, and insurance coverage. Boards should also notify residents about film schedules whenever possible.

Show Me the Money

  • How much will the community association management team be paid? Fees vary with production size, time and location according to industry experts. Associations can expect anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 a day depending on the number of days film crews will be on site and where they will be shooting. A high-end neighborhood in L.A., for instance, is going to command a different price than a street in rural Georgia. With a record-setting number of productions filming in Georgia, however, homeowners are becoming savvy and demanding more money.
  • What if the shoot runs over schedule? They often do. Contracts should spell out how much extra money the association will get and if there are restrictions on how many extra days will be allowed.
  • How much insurance will the community need? The contract should include a copy of the production company’s current liability insurance declaration page. You’ll also want to check with your association underwriter to ensure that if, say, a resident got injured, your policy would cover it too.

Do You Need to Obtain Permission from the Association?

Look for any restrictions that may be applicable. Among others, most communities’ documents state that homes can’t be used for commercial purposes. There may also be rules and regulations about how many occupants and guests are permitted. Make sure you read the fine print – there are a lot of things within your governing documents and rules that may prohibit film activity.

Will Owners’ Privacy or Rights to Enjoyment be at Risk?

Many experts agree that the board should notify the community association management team about the film shoot. Aside from legal concerns, like the privacy of other owners, your governing documents may also say “no nuisances”. Does a camera crew on the lawn on the yard next door create a nuisance within the community, and what would the board do about that?

What About Renting Your Home for a Film Shoot?

  • Production companies generally like to work with owners, not renters, because there are fewer people involved in those transactions.
  • To get into the business, you can list your house on websites such as Reel Locations or Locations Hub. Or you can wait for a location scout to find you — they’ll sometimes leave fliers around the neighborhood. If you see one and you’re interested, call fast, because productions move rapidly. Scouts also research websites such as Airbnb.
  • If a production approaches you about filming in your house, do a background check on the company and location scouts by asking for references and previous film/TV credits. If the scout is with the Location Managers Guild International, they are probably legitimate.
  • Being in movies isn’t just for fancy houses like the stunning coastal mansions on HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” Scouts need all kinds of locations, from small homes to high rise condominiums and everything in between.
  • While it may be tempting to agree to allow filming at your home without the approval of the association, remember you run the risk of fines or even legal action in some cases. Common sense – and common courtesy for your neighbors – are your best options.

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