ATLANTA — A one-minute video is making its way around social media. The video, directed by Rome Williams, features real people working in the film industry in Georgia. The goal of the video - to ask production companies to reconsider a boycott of Georgia.
“You’re not boycotting them, you’re just hurting us,” said one crew member in the video.
Williams decided to create the video in the wake of companies like Netflix, Disney, NBC Universal and Warner Media threatening to reconsider filming or locating production in Georgia if a controversial abortion bill takes effect. The “Heartbeat Bill” prohibits abortion after a doctor discovers a fetal heartbeat; typically, around six weeks - and before most women know they’re pregnant.
Williams said the video is not meant to be political. The director even asked those participating in the video to avoid political colors like red or blue.
“There is no mention of political affiliation or the proposed law in question,” Williams wrote in a statement. “Only what the effects of a boycott could do here.”
Katherine Brennan is one of the faces you see in Williams' video. She works with the camera department for reality TV and as a crew member on big-budget films in Georgia. She worries about the potential future fight for her career.
“It is scary because I’m still in that process of building my network in Georgia, so I feel like as soon as my speed is ramped up, this is a potential setback,” Brennan said. “So now, not only are women in the film industry set back in regard to their health and getting good health coverage but now they’re being set back because we have to worry about our livelihoods and careers.”
Actor Jessica York agreed. She also participated in Williams' video after realizing the potential effects of a boycott on her, having only moved to Atlanta a year prior.
“I put a lot on the line to move here. The thought of it getting torn away so quickly after moving here and trying to start a career before I even have a chance to get started is kind of painful,” York said.
Both said they think it’s great that the companies feel strongly and want to take a stand but believe they may not be considering the tidal wave their decision could cause.
“Everybody should fight for something they believe in," York said. "I don’t think that’s wrong at all. I think the overall effects are going to hit more people than they realize.”
“The film industry puts a lot of money into multiple different businesses so buying construction materials from Home Depot, retail items from small business, retail shops, prop shops.”
“Pulling production out of Georgia takes away all of that. It takes away opportunities from people,” said Amber Bournett, an independent filmmaker and camera assistant with the 600 Union.
Like York and Brennan, Bournett participated in Williams' video - again not be political, but to discuss the aftermath of potential boycotts.
“My whole film career, both independent and on a higher level, have started in Georgia,” said Bournett. “All these productions coming here, that knowledge is accessible to more people than before. And for you to just take that away I feel is irresponsible.”
The argument could be made that crew members, actors and actresses could leave the state of Georgia. But the three women explain that’s not an option for many who don’t want to or can’t leave the state on a whim.
“It’s not so easy to pick up and leave. Some people have families, some people have kids in school. The networks we’re are building are here or trying to build are here,” said Brennan.
“Neither can I afford or want to move to another city,” York said.
Whether or not the abortion law takes effect and production companies do pull filming in Georgia - heading for another state or back to California - remains to be seen. York, Brennan, Bournett and Williams, along with others in the video, hope if the law is official that companies will stay, fight and continue to employ people.