Tybee Island officials consider new movie regulations - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tybee Island officials consider new movie regulations

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

City leaders on Tybee Island are tightening the reins on movies that come to town.

A new proposal would limit when and where production companies could film on the island. It's all in an effort to strike a balance between encouraging the positive impact movies bring, with the needs of residents and local businesses.

A big part of it is revamping the permit application process. Right now, filming a major motion picture there requires no more paperwork than a hometown parade.

"Yeah, it's a one-size-fits-all, and that doesn't work. We have to come up with some common sense, logical, reasonable policies and regulations,” said Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman.

The proposal seeks to limit times when beach access is closed to the public for movies, and it would allow the city to deny filming permits during spring and summer, the island's peak season.

"Businesses out here, they really struggle in the off-season, and when the spring season hits, to have a portion of the beach shut down in front of their business creates problems,” said Mayor Buelterman.

That was a lesson learned from the "Baywatch" movie, which just wrapped up production on the island on Friday.

The proposal would also leave smaller projects to the discretion of the city manager instead of going before the city council.

While the city is trying to keep locals and small businesses in mind, the movies also bring publicity and cash, of course. "Baywatch" made the city $90,000 in parking fees alone.

Plus, sometimes locals make a little money, too.

"They just came to my house. They had seen the truck in the yard,” said Heath Newman, truck used in “Baywatch” movie.

Next thing he knew, the "Baywatch" crew was paying Heath Newman $500 a day to use his 1985 Chevy K-5 Blazer in the film.

Melba Judd owns a vacation rental business on Tybee. Plus scenes from "Baywatch" were filmed in her backyard - literally. She told WTOC while movies are good for the island's economy, they come with inconveniences as well.

"I got a few bad reviews from people who came down for a beach vacation and couldn't access the beach. So, I think it's good that the powers at be in the city are trying to get some kind of a balance going, where the people who are here 365 days a year aren't totally put out,” said Judd.

Tybee Island officials are now discussing the proposal with business owners and the Savannah Film Office, among others. They want to meet with as many stakeholders as possible before making an official decision.

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