Highland Beach: Tough new rules in place for filmmakers in town

By Rich Pollack

Moviemakers and others who want to film in Highland Beach be warned: Town officials and the Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission will work together to welcome you — but there are a lot of rules you’re going to have to follow. 

The Town Commission partnered with the county’s film commission last month in an amendment to a 2013 interlocal agreement that provides filmmakers with a “one-stop-shop process” should they consider taking advantage of Highland Beach as a setting during their next project. 

In a resolution that passed unanimously, town commissioners agreed to strengthen the previous agreement, which lets the film commission be the first point of contact for those interested in filming in the town and serve as the liaison between the two groups. 

The filming company would be required to fill out an application for review by the film commission staff to see if the project is a good fit and  meets a dozen requirements set out specifically for Highland Beach.

Film commission staff would then contact the town manager and police chief to review the application and make sure Highland Beach gives the green light for the production to proceed. 

 County Film Commissioner Chuck Eldred says the rules specified by the town are among the toughest in the county.

“This is one of the most one-sided interlocal agreements about film and television permitting any community can adopt,” he said.

Sparked by complaints last year from residents about the production of a made-for-television movie about the mob and a subsequent party, the agreement with the county sets out 12 provisions. It also gives the town the right to block filming if leaders think the production would be disruptive or not a good fit for the community.

Among the requirements set out in the agreement are:

• Filming can take place only between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., with no filming on Sundays or town holidays without prior written approval from the town manager. 

• A parking plan and off-site parking and a lighting plan, if applicable, must be provided to the town manager for approval. 

• At least two days before production begins, filmmakers will have to notify in writing property owners within 500 feet of the production site when filming will start and how long it is expected to last. 

• Film crew members cannot trespass on neighboring properties.

• The town manager or film commissioner may require the filming crew to have onsite security in place. 

Eldred said as part of the process, the county film commission, an arm of the county’s Tourist Development Council, has authority to pull a filming permit if any of the provisions of the agreement is broken. 

Throughout the process, he said, the film commission will do the heavy lifting and work to ensure the best interests of the community come first. The film commission, he said, will continue to work with the town to make any other adjustments needed down the road. 

“The interlocal agreement takes the burden of reviewing permits and working closely with the filmmakers off of the town,” Eldred said. “We do all the work.” 

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