Film production crews in Georgia are fighting back against Hollywood studios and actors who are proposing a boycott of the state after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected.
The law is scheduled to go into effect in January if it survives a legal challenge filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. But a number of major networks and studios, including Disney and Netflix, have said if that happens, they will seriously consider pulling production out of the state, prompting fear in an entire industry that has ballooned in size under the lure of big tax incentives.
Six people who currently work in production in Atlanta told BuzzFeed News they feared a Hollywood boycott could mean they won’t be able to pay their bills or afford their housing or health insurance.
“It’s ultimately hurting more people than it is going to do any justice,” a 39-year-old best boy grip told BuzzFeed News about a possible boycott. The grip preferred to remain anonymous because, like many other staffers who spoke to BuzzFeed News, he was afraid of losing his job.
After moving to Atlanta to work in production and having spent the last six years in the TV and film industry, the grip is now worried about what a Hollywood boycott would mean for him and his family.
“It’s not going to affect the politicians and the actors,” he said. “They’re still going to keep going to work in other places like they always have. But with us here, it’s going to destroy us.”
Disney, Netflix, AMC, CBS, Showtime, NBCUniversal, Sony, and WarnerMedia have all said they plan to “reevaluate” their activity in Georgia if the controversial law goes into effect.
“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told Reuters on Wednesday when asked about the boycott.
Kristen Wiig also said she pulled her upcoming comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar from filming in Georgia after the governor signed the abortion bill, and director Reed Morano told Time magazine she refused to film her upcoming Amazon Studios project The Power in the state.
“We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly,” Morano said. “There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there.”
Leaving the state, however, only hurts those who work in production and are trying to make ends meet, according to a 38-year-old key grip based in Atlanta who also did not want to use his name for fear of retribution.
“None of us voted for this, and we shouldn’t have to suffer because of what the politicians decided,” he told BuzzFeed News. “This only hurts us and it certainly doesn’t solve anything. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Feelings of frustration have prompted crew members to start a campaign of their own. Callie Moore, a 29-year-old camera assistant, decided to rally the other women she works with on Starz’s upcoming P-Valley by starting the “Stay and Fight Georgia” initiative.
“I generally don’t agree that boycotting is the right call to make a real difference here,” Moore told BuzzFeed News. “I think the film industry brings so much to the state of Georgia, economically and diversity-wise, and I think it does so much good for the state. The least we can do is fight back and try to keep it here.”
Moore, who moved to Atlanta three years ago to pursue more production jobs like Brightburn, Doom Patrol, and Donald Glover’s Atlanta, wants TV shows and films to continue shooting in Georgia instead of abandoning their employees. She distributed stickers and signs that say #StayAndFightGeorgia to different sets for people to take photos with and post online. There’s also a GoFundMe fundraiser that will donate money to the ACLU of Georgia.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams also got in on the defense with her own hashtag, #Consequences, tweeting: “This means lost jobs for carpenters, hair dressers, food workers & 100s of small businesses grown right here.”
“We live here, we buy homes here, we send our kids to school here,” she said. “We respect everyone’s opinion, but what we think is the best thing for Georgia is for the film industry to stay and fight alongside every woman that lives here.”
Janice Min, a 36-year-old camera operator who’s based in Los Angeles but moved to Atlanta to film P-Valley, said she was motivated to get involved by statements from Morano and other filmmakers who pulled out of Georgia.
“On the one hand, it’s good for them to take a stand, but at the same time, I’m just not sure that it’s the right approach,” Min told BuzzFeed News. “I think that’ll leave the people in the state in a more dire situation.”
Joining Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, Chernin Entertainment, the company behind P-Valley, pledged to continue filming in Georgia while also donating money to organizations fighting the bill. P-Valley director Tamra Davis even posted a photo with a Stay and Fight Georgia sign on Instagram.
Other crew members who are currently filming in Georgia, however, told BuzzFeed News they haven’t been met with this same kind of support on set. A 38-year-old stand-in and body double based in Atlanta said she understands the anger coming from Hollywood, but thinks “it’s displaced in trying to take jobs and livelihoods from people that they work with.”
“A lot of the people speaking out have worked with production people in Atlanta, so they know the people that they’re going to be pulling jobs away from,” she said. “So that’s kind of mind-blowing to me, that people are willing to look somebody in the eye one minute and then turn around and try and yank everything away from them.”
Alyssa Milano, who’s currently filming Netflix’s Insatiable in Atlanta, has been one of the more vocal actors about wanting to pull filming out of Georgia if the abortion legislation takes effect.
“I have to be there for another month but you can be sure I will fight tooth and nail to move Insatiable to a state that will protect our rights,” Milano told BuzzFeed News in a previous interview. “And if it doesn’t move to another state, I will not be able to return to the show if we are blessed with a third season.”
But according to those working in production, the disparity between their reality and the one actors and studios are proposing is more obvious than ever.
“I think just being on the ground and living here and working here and seeing the response from the crew here, we disagree with the idea of a boycott,” Moore said. “This little movement or whatever you might call it is made up of lots of really hard-working people who believe that these bans are wrong and think that our best bet to beat them is to stay in Georgia and fight it.”