Film industry won’t feel “catastrophic” impact from Heartbeat Bill, industry experts say

Heartbeat Bill impact on film industry

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the controversial Heartbeat Bill into law Tuesday morning, banning nearly all abortions in the state at the first sign of a fetal heartbeat.

Some high profile Hollywood actors want the film industry to boycott Georgia because of the new law, but Gov. Kemp doesn’t think movie production will be impacted.

Savannah is a popular production spot for movies, and local industry experts don’t expect the bill to change that.

“I think that the impact will be felt, but it won’t be catastrophic,” said Charles Bowen, attorney and founder of the Savannah Film Alliance.

Bowen says despite some groups like the Writer’s Guild of America opposing Georgia’s new abortion restrictions, he doesn’t think film production will suddenly stop in Georgia.

“There is no industry-wide consensus," Bowen said. “You’ve got a small, vocal minority that is very upset, but you’ve got the industry-wide people that realize, look, the people who are going to be impacted by a boycott are not the people sitting up in the Statehouse. It’s the people that rely upon the entertainment industry for their livelihood, the people that are the hardworking citizens of the state of Georgia.”

Even with the governor signing the bill, it’s not scheduled to go into effect until 2020. Bowen’s not sure it will even get that far.

“Almost everyone believes it will be struck down as unconstitutional,” Bowen said. “No matter which side you’re on, that’s the consensus.”

He says right now, 18 other states have or are considering similar legislation, and it hasn’t actually been implemented in any of them.

Bowen says the bootom line is the production companies decide where to film, and they aren’t the ones calling for a boycott.

“Georgia has worked hard. The citizens of Georgia in this industry have worked very hard to build this state into what it is in terms of production," Bowen said. “You’ve got incentives. You’ve got infrastructure in place. You’ve got a very talented crew base. None of that’s going anywhere, so as long as Georgia is a cost-effective place to come and make your movie production, I think that it’ll be okay.”

Bowen says if the court system doesn’t find the law unconstitutional, and it actually does go into effect, that may be a different story.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.