Executive Director at Visit Jackson County Florida, Christy Andreasen addressed the board of county commissioners last week in their regularly scheduled meeting about some concerns she had. The concerns were from a request she had from a film crew requesting permission to film in Jackson County. Andreasen said she could not release much information at the time because of on-going talks with the party requesting but she was concerned about the nature of their filming and what the side effects for Jackson County might be. She had concerns about some of the filming being inappropriate for what Jackson County wants to portray their county as, a family friendly environment.
In an interview with Andreasen last Friday afternoon, the TIMES asked her if ‘Floribama Shore’ was the showed eluded to in the commission meeting, she said, “Yes ma’am.” Asked if a decision had been made, she said, “The final word was they had turned everything over to Michelle Jordan the county attorney to handle things. I don’t really know what their final word on it was, because I bounce in and out so much. They did give me the authority to set up a committee of five people to look at either putting a permitting process in place or an ordinance, a regulation, or something going forward. That wouldn’t affect this. They’re not trying to control it. It’s just easier to let the people that need to know, we know stuff ahead of time if there’s something already in place. My biggest concern is businesses that may not know that they will be coming in, and they gave me such a short turn around on it from when they contacted me last week to when they were wanting to film. People like Lou Roberts wouldn’t be able to get someone within such a short notice of them coming in to make sure they had adequate law enforcement.”
Andreasen also says, “There’s the whole public versus private property thing. Even in talking with Wilanne (Daniels) out at Community Development about special events, if you’re wanting to have an event, a tent, or something put on your property for an event it doesn’t matter if it’s public or private you have to get an event permit. Like I said in the meeting, I don’t know a lot about the film industry. The title of ‘Film Liaison’ is part of my job description, and it’s never been elaborated on what I need to do. Basically, what I’ve been doing is, if something comes in, I usually talk to the county administrator.”
About when ‘Floribama Shore’ wanted to film in Marianna, Andreasen explained, “They called me last Wednesday (March 21st) and told me they were looking at coming up Easter weekend. That’s really not an appropriate amount of turnaround time. Like I said, I talked to the Filming Commissioners in Bay County and Okaloosa County and they said they prefer to have more of a notice. With them, that is their full-time job. That’s solely what they do is film stuff. It gives them time to be able to get the resources they need. Some film people when they come in are looking for additional equipment, or they’re looking for law enforcement, or they need to use public roadways and that gives them time to go through their first line of defense as they call it, and get everybody informed, they get everything in place, and make sure what they’re doing is going to be okay. They make sure they’re not breaking any local laws. I know that Okaloosa especially, she said she had things that were a 24-hour notice that they were going to be there. They are equipped to handle something like that because there is a full-time person and that’s solely what they do. I’m not saying Jackson County needs something that detailed at the moment, but we are starting to get more national and international recognition. If we’re increasing our tourism efforts, that’s going to be more common because people are going to start to see us more, and recognize it more, and it’s going to get more familiar. Business Insider did an article just this week that mentions the Florida Cavern’s as one of the 50 places in the United States that you can go and travel if you’re not wanting to go somewhere exotic and not spend an exotic amount of money. We’re getting more recognition in different places, and for the safety of our citizens, natural resources, and businesses it’s honestly better to have something in place so that you know. I honestly didn’t know anything about the lawsuit, that’s ignorance on my end about the waterway out at Spring Creek. When I called Mr. Bonner last week and talked with him about the issue at hand, he really didn’t give me any kind of guidance on what I needed to do. He just asked me if we had any filming permits in place, and I said, ‘No.” He said, “Well okay, there’s your answer.” I was like, “That doesn’t tell me what I need to tell them.” Because, if I tell them we don’t have filming permits, they are probably going to have questions after that. That’s kind of how it got on the agenda, I talked to Wilanne and was like, “Wilanne, I know that y’all do permitting and stuff.” I really don’t feel like my question was answered. I’ve reached out to Michelle Jordan and she told me that without it being referred to her by administration she really couldn’t get into the matter. So, that’s when I requested it be put on the agenda so I could talk to the commissioners about it. Of course, they turned everything over to her to what’s needed on the legal side. Different areas have different filming regulations and with it being on what’s considered public waters, but you also have private land owners in the different areas. You also, have to consider the businesses that would be in the vicinity of the B-roll footage and stuff. If they have permission county wide to film, they can film a business without permission and then put them out there. I don’t see business owners being okay with that. I’m not saying with this one production, it can be for any production. You’ve got to think of the impact it’s going to have on the public and private sector and the image. It’s their business and they own it, if it’s someone’s house, they own that. Same thing if you’re going out somewhere and you take a picture, and you use it to make money. You have to have permission if anyone’s face is recognizable in there. They can sue you for using their likeness, that is someone’s personal right. Of course, I don’t know the whole legal background on it all, which is why I wanted to get additional information on it from either the county attorney or the commissioners and see what we needed to do. From what I understood from the company, they already obtained permission from a local business to film on their private property, but they’re wanting to go down Spring Creek as well as the Chipola River.”
Andreasen was asked if the show was going to be here and she responded, “I don’t know if they are or not. Once everything was turned over to Michelle Tuesday night, she’s been the one in communication with them. From what Michelle told me she was going to talk to them, I don’t know if she has. I haven’t really been in contact with her, because of how crazy this last week has been. Best to my knowledge she was supposed to get up with them and figure out what was going on. What needed and could be done.”