Netflix productions mull leaving Georgia

A Variety report says that Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos will consider pulling the streaming giant’s massive film and television production from Georgia if the state moves forward with the controversial abortion ban.

On May 7, Governor Brian Kemp signed a a heartbeat bill that would essentially make abortion illegal if a fetal heartbeat is detected. The legislation does include exceptions to save the life of the mother or for rape or incest if the mother files a police report. It would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 unless it is blocked in the courts.

The controversial signing was immediately met with protests and backlash from A-list actors and directors. Both JJ Abrams and Jordan Peele have said they would donate “100% of our respective episodic fees” for the season they are currently filming of HBO’s Lovecraft Country in Georgia. Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano, actress Kristen Wiig and Bridesmaids writer Annie Mumolo have pulled their production from Georgia.

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos told Variety. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there — while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”

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Although filmmakers are also protesting working in Alabama, Missouri and Ohio, where women’s reproductive rights are at risk of being rolled back, the spotlight is on Georgia. And for good reason.

The state attracts movie shoots through a 20% base transferable tax credit. In 2018, the film industry supported a total of more than 92,000 local jobs in Georgia and $2.7 billion in direct spending, according to state officials. Marvel’s Black Panther alone, which was among the 455 movie and TV projects filmed in Georgia in 2018, accounted for more than 3,000 workers.

Netflix projects in Georgia include Michael B. Jordan’s Raising Dion, The Liberator, Holidate, Ozark, America: The Motion Picture, First and Last, Insatiable and the grandaddy – Stranger Things.

Kirsten Schaffer, executive director of the nonprofit group Women in Film, said she supports filmmakers who chose not to work in the state for political reasons.

“A woman’s right to make choices about her own body is fundamental to her personal and professional well-being. We support people who make the choice NOT to take their production to Georgia or to take a job in Georgia because of the draconian anti-choice law recently signed by their Governor,” Schaffer said in a statement published by CBS News.

She suggested that they move their productions to other states that offer significant tax rebates and production incentives, such as California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico New York and Washington.

Source: Variety