Ashland reconsiders new regulations on filmmakers

The Ashland City Council has postponed adoption of new regulations on filmmakers while the city searches for ways to reduce impacts on students, nonprofit groups, private citizens and small businesses that shoot film.

The city is in the midst of updating its 20-year-old film regulations. Proposed revisions call for filmmakers to obtain permits at least 10 days before shooting and buy $2 million worth of liability insurance.

Current regulations require filmmakers to get permits at least five days in advance and have $500,000 worth of liability insurance.

The city is grappling with the issue in the midst of a video-shooting boom. Mobile phones that shoot video, less expensive cameras and Internet sites such as YouTube have enabled everyday people to shoot and post video to a wide audience.

"We're in an odd situation where we're trying to regulate technology," Councilor Mike Morris said during Tuesday's meeting, noting that anyone can be a filmmaker these days.

People shooting family videos for personal use, the news media and people filming in studios would not have to get permits.

People shooting for commercial purposes, nonprofit groups, classes and people filming on private property would fall under the new regulations.

Councilor Pam Marsh said the Ashland Food Project, which collects food for those in need, shot a video promoting its efforts. It would be required to get a permit and liability insurance under the new regulations.

She questioned whether every student in an SOU film class would be required to secure a permit to carry out a class assignment.

"It's important that what we do focuses on the big folks," Marsh said.

Councilors will send their thoughts and concerns to city staff, who will continue working on draft changes to Ashland's filmmaking regulations.

The issue will come back to the council at a future meeting.

— Vickie Aldous

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