At least three production companies said they will not film in Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a near-total abortion ban into law on Tuesday. David Simon’s Blown Deadline, Killer Films, and Duplass Brothers Productions announced they would stop doing business in Georgia, considered to be the top filming location in the world.
The ban outlaws abortion at the time when a physician can first detect fetal cardiac activity, or as early as six weeks from the last menstrual period — before many women and gender minorities know they’re even pregnant. The law is slated to take effect in 2020. It also includes unprecedented personhood language that declares embryos and fetuses as “natural persons” — potentially criminalizing pregnant people who have miscarriages or self-manage abortions.
“Don’t give your business to Georgia. Will you pledge with me not to film anything in Georgia until they reverse this backwards legislation?” said Mark Duplass, of Duplass Brothers Productions, on Twitter Thursday evening.
Christine Vachon, of Killer Film, also tweeted on Thursday that her company would “no longer consider Georgia as a viable shooting location until this ridiculous law is overturned.”
Pushback began Wednesday, when Simon tweeted, “I can’t ask any female member of any film production with which I am involved to so marginalize themselves or compromise their inalienable authority over their own bodies.”
Many within the television and film industry warned there’d be fallout if Kemp signed the so-called heartbeat ban into law.
The Writers Guild warned that Hollywood crews would leave the state over the abortion ban in March, when the legislature considered passing the bill. The union group told BuzzFeed News it stands by its statement, adding that lawmakers are making the state “an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work, including our members.”
Alyssa Milano, who sent local lawmakers a letter signed by 50 other actors opposing the ban in March, also said she’s boycotting Georgia. She said she won’t return to the Netflix show Insatiable if the third season is filmed in Georgia.
The boycott announcement was met with some disapproval among writers and directors in the industry, with one arguing that “by not coming here, the real harm is on us thousands of rank & file workers in film & TV business… Please come. We’ll fight another way.”
In response, Simon said it was a matter of ethics.
There is no point in debating the tactics or effect. Ethically, as an employer, I cannot ask my female colleagues to work in a jurisdiction where their health care options are curtailed and their civil rights are specifically compromised. They have to work elsewhere. https://t.co/jslJqBlnB0
— David Simon (@AoDespair) May 10, 2019
Duplass, too, argued that while it is “negative” that the boycott would affect others in the production business, “I view it similarly to supporting unions during a strike. It can really suck in the short term for a potentially greater, long term good.”
I 100% see your point and I do see that aspect as a negative. I view it similarly to supporting unions during a strike. It can really suck in the short term for a potentially greater, long term good. But I understand if others have priorities & ideals that r different than mine.
— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) May 10, 2019
The state is no stranger to passing legislation even even if it means potentially losing billions of dollars in revenue. In 2016, various industries threatened to flee in response to an anti-LGBTQ bill. Faced with major backlash, the governor vetoed the bill.
The fact that some within the television and film industry have spoken out against the ban is a big deal. The industry generated $9.5 billion in the 2017 fiscal year, including $2.7 billion in direct spending, according to the state.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which alone is responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and nearly $4.6 billion in total wages statewide, is waiting to see what happens in court. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) already committed to filing a lawsuit against Georgia’s near-total abortion ban. A federal judge temporarily blocked Kentucky’s six-week ban in March after the ACLU sued.
“It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or is currently being challenged. The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments,” MPAA spokesperson Chris Ortman told the Hollywood Reporter.
Meanwhile, Georgia patients are confused, with many believing the near-total abortion ban has already taken effect. The day after the legislature passed the bill, nearly every patient who went to an Atlanta abortion clinic asked if they still had an appointment, according to Vice.
“People are very concerned about getting the care that they need,” said organizer and clinic escort, Libby Mandarino.