Ordinance sets film guidelines

Published 8:27 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2016

By Blake Deshazo | The Selma Times-Journal

Filmmakers that come to the city of Selma will soon have to apply for a permit to film commercially inside the city limits and police jurisdiction.

Due to an increase of filming since the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Selma City Council has proposed an ordinance that requires production companies to apply for a permit before any filming is done.

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“Since the 50th there has been an influx of people coming in and filming throughout the city,” said Selma City Council President Corey Bowie. “We welcome them coming in but also we just want them to be in compliance with the ordinance.”

Bowie said the ordinance will allow the city to regulate productions in the city as well as help promote the city.

“One of the benefits would be that Selma would hopefully reap some of the benefits once they come in and get their license to film here,” Bowie said. “This is another way we can generate a stream of revenue and also promote the tourism and other assets of our city.”

The permit application fee is $250 and is non-refundable.

“No motion picture, video production or audio production may be filmed, taped or otherwise recorded at any public or private site within the corporate limits or police jurisdiction of the city of Selma unless a permit has been issued by the city of Selma for such activity,” the ordinance reads.

The ordinance states anyone who is paid for productions is required to apply for a permit.

“This applies not only to those shooting feature films or network or cable video programming, but also to those who capture audio or footage for documentaries, commercials, product demonstrations, web sites, or training films,” the ordinance states.

The ordinance excludes filming for news, private or family use, school projects, city projects, video for live entertainment events and filming in a licensed studio.

The permit application and the fee are required at least 30 days prior to filming.

Small-scale productions that are locally licensed and insured are exempt from the ordinance if the production budget for each production is less than $5,000.

“The ultimate goal is to continue to promote tourism but also be in compliance with other cities that allow movies to come in and film,” Bowie said.

Bowie said the council looked at other cities that had similar ordinances and based Selma’s around the same principles.

Bowie said the city encourages filmmakers to come to Selma because having production crews in town brings in revenue for local businesses and having the city featured in movies promotes the city.

“When you’re working with all entities, it is going to be a collective effort to foster tourism and what we have available,” Bowie said. “I think it will be best if we also try to generate as much revenue as we can.”