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Conyers to form filming guidelines
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The stage is set for Conyers to play a major role in Georgia's growing movie industry activity, and city officials are looking to establish guidelines that will make filming less of a production for local merchants.   

With 17 major films shooting at locations in Rockdale County over the past decade, word has spread that this community is both friendly and accommodating, qualities that keep film companies coming back time and again. Most recently Olde Town Conyers served as a stage for the movie "Endless Love," which blocked off key streets in Olde Town for shooting for days. 

Much like the city of Covington learned through the "Vampire Diaries" filming, sorting the logistical issues  associated with a massive influx of equipment and crew is a learning process. 

"Our first commitment is to our home and our Olde Town family," Conyers Main Street Director Monica Coffin said during a meeting with local merchants last week. "I hope all of you know I am in Olde Town with you and for you." 

Coffin and Conyers-Rockdale Economic Development’s Camera Ready liaison Gina Hartsell have spent countless hours researching details of the potential policy, which they say will be similar to an ordinance adopted by the city of Covington.  

Covington's ordinance simply entails two requirements for downtown filming: (1) If customer access to business is directly impeded during business hours, a maximum of $200 per day will be paid for filming activity; and (2) if the business is directly affected by filming, compensation will be decided between the filming company and business owner.

"We are seeking input from merchants, such as experiences they have encountered, to put together a packet that is uniform and relative to this city," Hartsell told the group. She said input will be accepted with hopes of having a policy, perhaps in the form of an ordinance, presented to the city council for adoption in coming weeks. 

Though unpredictable from project to project, Hartsell said local merchants have reaped rewards despite the increase in traffic and random road closures necessary for filming. She said the last project, "Endless Love," infused $40,000 into the local economy, much of which was spent on large orders of food from Olde Town establishments. According to Conyers City Councilmember Vince Evans, who is also an Olde Town retailer, a production crew member placed an order for 50 milkshakes from the soda fountain at his business. Yet in the same week another merchant was impacted by road closures and parking shortages that impeded his business on one of his busiest nights. 

"We need to have a policy in place so there is minimal disruption," Evans said, "It has to be able to take care of people's concerns in Olde Town and let the film companies know what they can and cannot do. We want to hit most of the major points early on and tweak it down the road as needed."