Business and Residential Disruptions

The notion of business disruption is a tricky subject. Every situation will be different, and this is an issue that has to be handled properly. If a film is utilizing a business as a location, of course there will be the discussion of a fair location fee. Insurance should also be issued to that business owner and a Location Agreement signed.

But what about the businesses on either side of the location? Is the crew stacking up equipment, setting up craft services, or playback for the director? Is that neighboring business blocked to the point where their customers are driven away? Then, there will most likely need to be subsequent agreements made with that owner or several owners.

This is NOT something that you or the film commission should be directly engaged with since financial negotiations need to be handled by the production company. The reason for this is that you can get yourself in serious hot water if you have any engagement with money changing hands.

One good rule of thumb that the Location Manager might employ is: how much money did that business make on this same exact day a year prior?

Business disruption is an area that takes time and skill to handle. You could be drawn into the fray if the businesses or even business association feel that they are not being sufficiently compensated. This is a time when your mediation skills come into play. Without suggesting a fair amount, you can ask how far apart are the production company and the business or businesses on a fee? Then asking if they can each compromise. One thing to remember is that if this particular shoot goes awry either for the way the production operates or if the businesses feel taken advantage of this could result in a ‘burned location’. A burned location is one where future filming will not be welcomed. Once burned, it is very hard to get businesses or communities to change their thinking. If they do, it is likely that they will only agree to another film shooting in their area for greatly increased location fees.

Town/Neighborhood Meetings

When there is a majorly-disruptive scene being contemplated for a town center (business district) and/or in a neighborhood, it may be advisable to pull together a town or neighborhood meeting. This is tricky and you should be careful to suggest this without in-depth conversations with the production. There are times when having a meeting of this sort becomes an opportunity for the community to financially fleece the production company or turn into a ‘complaint fest’, neither of which are constructive. A seasoned film company will inherently know if this is needed and will be helpful or not. Remember: communication is vital. If a town or neighborhood meeting is used as a chance to not only address concerns but to also walk through the logistics of the prep, shoot and wrap planned for that area so that the entire community knows what to expect, a great number of problems can be avoided.

Filming in Residential Areas

The basic concerns for residents are parking, noise, access at all times to their homes, bright lights at night, and the beginning and end times of the workday. In some jurisdictions, filming at nighttime requires signatures from a majority of residents and in other jurisdictions the requirement is to properly flier all of the effected resident’s houses or apartments. A flier should include the times of the activity (from when the first truck arrives to when the last truck leaves), the nature of the activity, and any other pertinent information (i.e. it is a film taking place in 1950, so there is a request for all modern cars to be off the street). The flier should always have the name and phone number of the location contact for any questions or problems. Some companies do this differently and create a website for residents; the flier indicates how to go online for the most up-to-the-minute information. If there is going to be one or more nights of filming until very late or all night, it is not unusual for residents directly affected by the noise and activity to be put up in a nearby hotel and paid for by the production. Another common practice is for the grip department or the location department to agree with neighbors to black out the homeowners bedroom windows prior to the commencement of night shooting.