'Heartbeat' bill: Georgia's skilled workers will be hit the hardest when Disney, Netflix and other networks pull out
Currently, the state reaps about $9.5 billion in financial gain and even though it would be a big hit to the revenue, this exit would come crashing down on the small guys, like film and production crews, who are urging these networks to stay and fight
The 'Heartbeat Bill' may cost Georgia's film industry a lot of dollars, but its real impact will be on the many skilled workers who depend on the industry for their livelihood. Netflix, NBC, Disney, Warner Media, Viacom, AMC, Showtime are just a few of the industry big wigs who have said that they will rethink their work in Georgia if the restrictive anti-abortion bill goes through. Currently, the state reaps about $9.5 billion in financial gain and even though it would be a big hit to the revenue, this exit would come crashing down on the small guys, like the film and production crews, who are urging these networks to stay and fight.
Georgia was fine before the film boom and will be after it as well if it comes down to it, but the people in the state that work in this industry will not be.
There is no silver lining
According to them, it is rash and insensitive for a huge corporation to back out and leave local filmmakers in the cold.
"Boycotting will most definitely destroy the Georgia entertainment business and have a devastating effect on ordinary workers," says Ryan C. Millsap, Chairman & CEO of Blackhall Studios. Millsap predicts that if this does go through, workers at every level will be forced to move to where there are jobs should they want to stay in the entertainment industry.
The industry is truly powered by the hard working below-the-line folks, says Megan Estes, who works as a freelance production manager in the state. "For all of us ordinary folks it's sort of a tough pill to swallow when we hear ivory tower executives making statements that completely disregard our livelihood. It's no surprise that they fail to see the impact this will have on us real people with families and mortgages when they are 3,000 miles away," she adds.
Netflix shoots many of its films and TV shows in Atlanta including 'Stranger Things' and 'Ozark' and has hundreds of crew members employed at a time, says a member of a lighting crew in Georgia currently working on the sets of 'Conjuring 3' who wishes to remain anonymous. "I have many friends that would be out of work right now if Netflix decides to close up shop in GA," the source shares. The state has produced Marvel films as well as so many Disney productions, it would be "devastating" now to have them go because they provide employment for longer periods of time, says the insider who has worked in the state since 2015.
It would be a direct blow to families as well, who would be forced to separate when all of sudden they would be fighting to find work and may need to move or work out of state. "I’ve had to do this myself in the past when I was living in Wilmington, North Carolina. TV and Film abandoned NC when the incentives were revoked. This eventually brought my family to Atlanta, Ga," the source says. With 'The Walking Dead' potentially pulling out, Senoia, which is a huge tourist destination because of the show, would also suffer.
Betrayed by Hollywood celebrities
When Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that they may be moving out of Georgia, he said that many people who work for with them will not want to work in the state and they'd have to shut shop there to heed to their wishes. However, is the crew not a crucial part of making any blockbuster? It's hypocritical for the industry's big shots to not care about what happens to the ones they leave behind, say local workers. It will hurt the innocent and hard working people who don't support the ban and it's a shame that the industry won't even consider it, they say.
Apart from the crew, the mass impact would ripple to small businesses that fill the needs of a production, such as catering meals or renting out equipment and the thousands of folks who work on camera as background actors, shares Megan Estes. She thinks it is hypocritical for actors to support this boycott but not just because they are being undervalued as members of the film community, but because most of them are on the same side of this fight.
"As actual residents of the state, but I would also hope to be met with unwavering support from my West Coast counterparts, not complete abandonment. Women like Alyssa Milano and Kristen Wiig have been Sheroes to me, I hope they will reconsider their boycott positions and instead find alternative avenues to join in this fight," she shares. They look to the way Jordan Peele and JJ Abrams have dealt with this situation, by donating money to those fighting the "ridiculous" bill. "All these celebrities they are turning on us, have lost my respect. They have worked with us as crew members and know that we are not the problem here in the state," the insider says.
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