Metro Weekly

HRC proposes potential film industry boycott of Georgia

Chad Griffin calls for a stop to filming in the state if a discriminatory "religious freedom" bill passes

Chad Griffin (Photo: Rex Wockner).
Chad Griffin (Photo: Rex Wockner).

Hollywood could face an upcoming test of whether it stands in solidarity with the LGBT community, or whether production companies have merely been paying lip-service to equal rights.

At the Los Angeles Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Gala on Saturday night, HRC President Chad Griffin called upon more than 1,000 attendees — including many from the entertainment industry — to stop productions in Georgia if a purported “religious freedom” bill that would allow anti-LGBT discrimination goes into effect. Currently, the bill has been sent to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal, who has until May 3 to decide whether to veto the measure.

“I know we have many entertainment industry leaders in the room tonight,” Griffin said in prepared remarks. “Like other states, Georgia offers tax incentives for TV and film productions, and as a result, the entertainment industry has a huge economic footprint in the state. But if this bill is signed into law, your employees, your contractors — all those working on your production are at risk of state-sanctioned discrimination. That is wrong. It’s un-American. It’s an affront on all the values Hollywood prides itself on. And you have the influence and the opportunity to not only defeat this bill, but to send a message that there are consequences to passing dangerous and hateful laws like this.

“And so tonight, we’re asking you to join us as we urge TV and film studios, directors and producers, to commit to locating no further productions in the state of Georgia if this bill becomes law,” Griffin added.

Any such boycott could have an economic impact, as well as send a message that Hollywood won’t condone discrimination. According to the State of Georgia, at least 248 film and television productions were shot in Georgia during the state’s 2015 fiscal year. This generated more than $1.7 billion in direct spending and has led more than 100 new businesses that support the film industry relocating to or expanding in the state.

But Georgia’s reputation as a low-tax state and the financial benefits of the tax credits they receive might also prompt film production companies to ignore Griffin’s plea for solidarity, and refuse to stake out a position on the discriminatory law.

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