The city of Marietta may not get paid much for the use of its streets, parks and other public places whenever a film studio lets its cameras roll, but city leaders say it’s not about the money.
The production crew for the made-for-TV movie “The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963” was on the Marietta Square for a majority of the day Wednesday to shoot a single scene for the film, which is scheduled for release in September on the Hallmark Channel.
The fees paid by this particular film group were not yet available Wednesday. But, according to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, an application for a production in the city limits costs just $25, followed by a $250 daily rate and additional costs, depending on whether police, fire, street closures or hydrants are needed.
By comparison, the city of Los Angeles charges application fees that start at $625. Other fees include $450 per day for any park use and $312 per day for a street or lane closure.
Councilman Johnny Sinclair couldn’t recall exactly when the filming fees were put in place for Marietta but said there’s never been any discussion about increasing them, or checking to see if they are in line with other cities around the state or nation.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to get free publicity, and it raises Marietta’s profile in the public’s eye,” he said.
The only time the city might consider raising fees is if residents were burdened with the film shoots, he said. That could come in the form of traffic snarls or businesses losing customers.
“It certainly is an inconvenience for the downtown shop owners, but it doesn’t happen that often and if it got out of hand, then we’d take action,” Sinclair said.
Councilman Philip Goldstein said he couldn’t imagine the fees needing to be increased.
“The higher you go, the less likely you may be to attract the film companies to Marietta,” he said. “Most folks are pretty excited about the opportunity for Marietta to be in a film … I’d say that most people are happy with film crews to be here.”
Goldstein, who owns a large portion of the buildings on the Square, said he hopes to continue to open doors to the film industry in Marietta. And when the producers and actors walk through those doors, he intends to make sure they step on a welcome mat.
“I want Marietta to be seen as a film-friendly place,” Goldstein said.