Two Productions Move Out of Savannah After Heartbeat Bill

Charles Bowen
Charles Bowen

Two highly anticipated productions will no longer bring their shows to Savannah as a result of the ‘Heartbeat bill’ signed by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this month.

Producers of “The Power,” as well as producers of a new Kristen Wiig movie had scouts in the Hostess City but have now decided to look at other venues.

“The collective decision taken by Sister Pictures and Reed Morano to cancel the planned scout to Georgia for The Power is a direct response to the signing of the ‘heartbeat bill’. No production commitments have yet been made to shoot in any location in the U.S. We feel we have to stand up for a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body, and so while this is not a decision we have taken lightly, we feel strongly that it is the right one at this point in time,” executive producers Jane Featherstone and Naomi de Pear said in a statement.

These decisions arrive as a growing number of prominent Hollywood figures like Alyssa Milano and David Simon advocate for a boycott to try to force the hand of a state that is home to a thriving film industry. That industry employs 92,000 people and generated $9.5 billion in total economic impact in 2018.

“I think that in terms of immediate impact we’re gonna see some decline. I think it will be a fair decline but nothing major. I think your gonna have a few problems with small production companies taking a moral stand but not the major production companies,” film attorney Charles Brown said. Bowen’s law firm specializes in commercial and entertainment law, and he has expanded his involvement to larger interests in the film industry. In 2015, Bowen founded the Savannah Film Alliance to promote the film community within Savannah and the greater Coastal Empire through advocacy and action via education, outreach and collaboration.

Despite the set back of having production companies leave the state, these companies are relatively smaller ones in comparison to other companies that Georgia hosts.

Bowen outlined that major companies are not participating in the boycott for a number of reasons, one being that “They understand that our whole legal system is based on checks and balances.”

The heartbeat bill will not go into effect until January 2020 and will likely be struck down by a federal court before that can happen said Bowen.

He also said that the political landscape of Georgia is not ideal for a boycott in the film industry.

When the adoption bill came into play in early 2018 the film industry also planned to boycott the state. Former Gov. Perdue vetoed the bill due to his acknowledgement of how much money and influence the film industry brings to Georgia.

Bowen said that Gov. Kemp is different. He doesn’t seem to have any interest in the film industry and therefore may not take such boycotts as seriously.

“What it will do is impact thousands and thousand of people who live here and work in the industry,” Bowen said.

He does offer a solution to the issue of boycotting in Georgia.

“Just because something gets passed politically doesn’t mean you say goodbye to the thousand and thousands of people who need it. It’s better to flood the state. Come here and really change things politically. Change people’s mind and hearts by talking and not just by running away.”

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