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Film committee finalizes filming policy
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The Covington Filming Committee revised the final draft of their Film Procedures policy at their meeting on Friday morning.

The committee made their final changes to the policy, which includes how much residents and business owners will be compensated if filming impacts them.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston and committee members Willie Davis, the city's human resources department training manager; columnist Barbara Morgan; and John Howard, chairman of the Covington Municipal Airport Authority, were in attendance.
Irene Smith, local TV show host; Teresa Waters with the "About Covington to Madison" magazine; Susan Kirk, owner of Scoops; and representatives from Bonanza Productions were not in attendance.

The final draft of the policy has two sections, one for Downtown Film Activity Impacts and the other for Residential Film Impacts.

The Downtown Film Activity Impacts section of the draft is directly related to downtown businesses in the city limits of Covington.

According to the Downtown Film Activity Impacts section of the policy, if customer access to a business is directly impacted during business hours, a maximum of $200 per day will be paid for filming activity - which includes set-up, filming and break-down.

It also states that if the business is directly affected by filming, compensation will be decided between the filming company and the business owner.

The Residential Film Impacts portion of the policy relates to filming in residential areas.

Under this section of the policy, typical film days shall be conducted between the hours of 7 a.m. and midnight. If no traffic restrictions exist for the residents within 200 linear feet of the film location, compensation per resident is required.

It further states that if filming or wrap-up is to extend beyond midnight, compensation per each resident within 200 linear feet of the actual film location shall be compensated at a rate of $50 per each day of film activity, excluding exceptional activities - which includes activities such as pyrotechnical and explosives.

The section also states that if road closures exist, all impacted residents will be compensated at a rate of $100 per day for their inconvenience.

Private property use by film companies is between the filming company and the homeowners, according to the policy.

Film Committee members have previously discussed in their meetings that the policy will be not just for the Bonanza Productions Company, but also for future filming in the city of Covington.

Over the years, Covington has been better known in TV Land as Hazzard County in "The Dukes of Hazzard," Sparta, Mississippi in "In the Heat of the Night," and most recently as Mystic Falls, Va., in "The Vampire Diaries."

In addition, the County Courthouse has been seen by millions in the opening credits of "In the Heat of the Night."

Starting with "A Man Called Peter" in 1954, Covington has become the true Hollywood of the South by playing host to more than 60 productions that have appeared on the silver screen.

Some of Covington's most famous big screen appearances include: "My Cousin Vinny," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Cannonball Run," "Remember the Titans," "Madea's Family Reunion," "Footloose (2010)," and "Flight."

In lieu of the extensive filming history in Covington, the city has been deemed the Hollywood of the South and in November, pavers - which featured actors and movies filmed in Covington - were unveiled during the "Covington Walk of Stars" ceremony.
According to Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner of tourism for the state, direct tourist spending topped $100 million in 2011 and created or sustained 990 jobs in Covington/Newton County.

Although there have been residents impacted negatively and positively by filming in Covington, the film committee has said they have received quite a bit of positive feedback from the community.

The final draft of the Film Procedures policy will be presented to the Covington City Council for approval at its council's Dec. 17 meeting.