GOV. Brian Kemp toured Atlanta movie facilities Wednesday to show his support for an industry facing mushrooming fallout over his decision to sign Georgia's anti-abortion "heartbeat" measure into law. The damage, though, may be just beginning.
Several Hollywood figures announced this week that they are pulling TV and film productions that were originally set to shoot here. And more actors, directors and producers announced they would not do business in Georgia if the new restrictions take effect.
The blowback was evidenced by not just the high-profile celebrities who posted their disdain for the law on social media, but also by the projects that bolted more quietly. Kris Bagwell, who runs EUE Screen Gems in Atlanta, said he recently lost a Netflix movie that would have brought about 300 jobs.
national film and television production industry, "said Bagwell, who also heads the Georgia Studio and Infrastructure Alliance. "Isn't the first rule of job creation? Don't shoot the jobs you already created?" ”
The governor had initially planned to fly to Los Angeles to attend an event Wednesday in Hollywood to court film executives, but he postponed it last week amid talk of protests and no-shows.
Instead, he privately toured the state-financed Georgia Film Academy and a nearby studio. Hours later, his office released a statement to the benefits of an industry that "generates economic opportunity in every corner of our great state."
a ceremony surrounded by anti-abortion advocates. The changes, which would be most abortions as early as six weeks, take effect in January but face a certain court challenge before then. [Kemphaslongsaidhesignedthemeasuretoupholdacampaignpromiseandstandfor"Georgiavalues"ButhetookamoreconfrontationaltoneovertheweekendwhenhemockedHollywoodpersonalitieswhohadvowedtoboycottGeorgiaaboutthelaw
"We are the party of freedom and opportunity," Kemp said at the Georgia GOP convention in Savannah. “We value and protect innocent life ̵
"Stay and fight"
Georgia movie boosters could be threaten the state's perch as the nation's third-largest state for movie and TV productions – behind only California and New York. In 2008, the state passed generic legislation that allows film companies to earn up to 30 percent of what they spend here.
In fiscal year 2018, Georgia hosted 455 qualified movie and TV shows generating $ 2.7 billion in direct spending. Georgia's is unlimited while other states have their tax credits. $ 800 million
The magnetic currency of those incentives has been invested in a network of infrastructure across the city of Atlanta, including lighting. internships, sprawling sets and editing bays. The state has chipped in, too, with a film academy that trains hundreds of students for jobs in fields such as lighting, post-production and editing.
Alec Baldwin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ben Stiller and Gabrielle Union have joined in and lengthy list of celebrities threatening to boycott the measure.
And two Hollywood figures captured national headlines when they said they were pulling projects out of Georgia because of the law
Director Reed Morano scrapped plans to shoot her new Amazon Studios show, "The Power," in Savannah because, she told Time Magazine, there was "no way we ever brought our money to state by shooting there." And Kristen said her upcoming Lionsgate comedy will no longer film in Georgia for Georgia film boosters, suddenly on the defensive, are highlighting the decisions of several celebrities, including JJ Abrams, Ron Howard and Jordan Peele, to stay in Georgia but donate to opponents of the law.
And a "stay and fight" movement has pushed celebrities to think twice about their boycott threats, warning that leaving Georgia will devastate the There are thousands of people who work as crew members, catering staff or other support roles for the pricey productions that film in the state.
“It's so maddening. I understand why folks think that uprooting an industry that employs thousands of people here will possibly help women in Georgia, "said state rep. Teri Anulewicz, a Smyrna Democrat who opposed the law.
"They are incredibly well-meaning to take an interest in this fight, but these are men and women who work so hard," she said. “This is their livelihood, and we can be about shutting down the entire industry.”
Some industry officials hope the coming court battle, and the passage of even tighter restrictions in Alabama, some of the attention from Georgia. Plus, they add, existing shows that have filmed here for years are unlikely to immediately uproot and leave the state.
That includes actress and producer Alyssa Milano, who has promised to boycott Georgia several times over the "heartbeat" law – but is now filming her Netflix project "Insatiable" in metro Atlanta because she's contractually obligated to do so.
"We have had many new shows opening up accounts in the last couple of weeks," said Bob Lucas, the owner of Central Atlanta Props & Sets in East Point, who added that has not seen a slowdown in his own business yet.
Still, some local movers worry about the reputational damage to the state is immeasurable – and could outlast the legal fight over the law .
"There was some skepticism in the industry about Kemp early on and justifiably so," said Rhonda Baraka, a local screenwriter who directed an Atlanta-produced film that will debut on Lifetime in June.
"The bill – and the mentality behind it – cast our state in a negative light. It sends a message about us that doesn't accurately depict who we are, ”Baraka said. "Even if this bill is scuttled, I don't think people will easily forget."
Ask Kemp about the fallout, and he'll say he's not worried about "what someone in Hollywood thinks of me." Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week that he is unfazed by the backlash from his recent "C-list celebrities" remark.
"I'm sure people will protest. People protested during the session, "he said.
" A lot of these folks are the same people who worked against me in the election. They said the same thing after I was sworn in. Now they're saying the same thing after I promised Georgians I would, ”Kemp said. “I know they're mad at me for doing what I said would do, but I think most Georgians appreciate that.”
Stay on top of what happens in Georgia government and politics at www.ajc.com/politics.
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