Georgia is becoming a popular destination to film movies, television shows, commercials, and other visual media content. As a result, boards and property managers are seeing an increase in demand for their communities to be used as filming locations. If you are approached by a homeowner and/or production company about filming in your community, consider these questions:
Is the filming taking place inside or outside of a residence?
Generally speaking, a homeowner does not need permission from their community association to allow filming inside of their residence. That being said, however, the association may have an issue with the activity if it will disrupt the day-to-day operations and/or quiet enjoyment of the community by other residents. For example, filming inside of a condominium unit may still cause some inconvenience to others, especially if the film crews and equipment need to travel across the common elements to reach the unit.
If the filming is taking place outside of a residence on the association’s common property, then the community association absolutely has a say on whether the filming can take place.
Is the community association being compensated?
It should be. Some production companies will try and convince boards and property managers that simply featuring the community in the production is sufficient consideration for allowing the filming to take place. In our experience, however, the community association probably has more leverage in the negotiation. This means that production companies will often provide monetary compensation in exchange for permission to film. Either way, there will typically be some form of contract and/or release between the production company and the community association.
Should the community association have its attorney review the production company’s contract and/or release agreement?
Absolutely. Boards and property managers can probably negotiate the general terms for allowing the filming to take place (e.g., compensation, locations, date and time, etc.), but they may overlook the fine print if something goes wrong. For example, it is important that the production company is properly insured and names the community association in its policy(ies). There could also be unfavorable language in these agreements surrounding termination, indemnification, forced arbitration/litigation outside of Georgia, etc. For these reasons, the association’s attorney should review any relative agreements with the production company before they are executed by the board.
Will there be privacy concerns or issues with the other residents?
In general, one does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy outside of his or her residence. For example, if there is filming outside on the common property and you captured driving by in the background, that is likely not a violation of your privacy rights. Regardless, it is probably a good idea for boards and property managers to alert the community if filming is taking place, especially if it will be outside of a residence and/or on the common property. The production may have an impact on the day-to-day operations of the community, and residents would be given the opportunity to avoid the area if possible. Furthermore, notifying the community will likely save boards and property managers a lot of time from having to answer questions about what is going on.
Will the filming violate the association’s governing documents?
It depends on the extent of the production. Even though filming within a community can be an exciting thing, it does not give the association and/or a resident the right to violate the association’s governing documents. Accordingly, it is important for boards and property managers to review the community’s use restrictions and determine if the filming will conflict with any existing rules. If so, the production may need to be scaled back or not approved at all.
In sum, there can be a lot of legal concerns when filming within a community association. For this reason, it is important to go through this checklist and determine how the filming may impact the community. If there are significant issues that may arise—or the production company has provided you with some type of contract or release agreement—it is probably a good idea to involve your community association attorney before allowing the filming to take place.