Hollywood celebrities are threatening to boycott film production in Georgia if a controversial bill is signed into law.
The ‘heartbeat’ bill would make it illegal for women to get an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. In 2018, productions accounted for 120 million dollars in local spending in Savannah. Charles Bowen, the Founder of The Bowen Law Group and Savannah Film Alliance, said he believes economic incentives will continue to attract show business to the Peach State. However, he recognizes there is still a threat to the film industry in Savannah.
“I think that that’s a threat that needs to be taken seriously. I think that it could indeed harm the entertainment industry. I don’t believe it would cripple it,” said Bowen.
Georgia offers a 30% tax incentive with a 10% rebate on money spent in Chatham County. If Governor Kemp signs the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, Bowen said that he fears it’s not state lawmakers who will feel the worst impact.
“By pulling out of the state of Georgia, are you actually going to impact the government officials that are taking this action that really probably don’t care whether you’re here or not? You’re not really going to impact them. Who you’re going to impact are the hundreds of thousands of crew members who rely upon the entertainment industry for their daily livelihood,” he said.
Bowen said that even if the bill is signed into law, he believes the federal courts will rule the bill unconstitutional.
Officers of the “Savannah Filmmakers” group on Facebook sent News 3 the following statement regarding the bill:
“We are a group made up of various members in the industry, from Extras to Producers and Directors, both local and those that have worked here and lived here or surrounding areas. Our admin have posted on our pages regarding the dangers of the bill. While many in the industry would not want to lose business, we also disagree with the bill. The bill does put us at risk of losing business. There are many other states that offer similar strong incentives, that do not have legislation proposed and placed on the Governer’s desk, that are just as accessible for these productions to relocate or film on location. We are lucky that prior legislation has failed in passing or was either not signed by Deal in more recent years. Until recently, we have just had the threats of legislation being passed and the threats of industry boycotts. I personally feel that we have the most threat of the state being impacted by such a loss because Kemp has stated what he would support. And we should also note that while it is the Entertainment industry threatening the boycott, it is not the onIndustrysty or group that is publicly stating its opposition. Medical professionals, Coke, various organizations in the state, the Writers Guild, etc have also spoken up. If this bill is passed, it will certainly be challenged, and there will probably be a slower growth rate or a slower reduction until such case is heard. Then if it stands, there is not doubt that the industry will stagnate and begin to fade over time. There are arguments that a child’s life is not more important than the industry. It seems much more complex than that. This bill is very restrictive and takes away the rights of women, along with the advice of their medical professionals, to make decisions that are best for them. It does not strike down all abortions, but restricts it to a point well before most women would realize they are pregnant and have that choice. It forces a woman to formally file in other situations in order to be able to have an abortion. What those are trying to say is that it harms the women of our state and takes away their right to a choice regarding their own bodies. Whether to have a child or not based on the risk to their own lives, or many other reasons that may be involved. Looking at our industry specifically, we see a large group of people that are usually very vocal about the rights of people and preventing legislation that discriminates.”