Disney executive says it would be ‘difficult’ to keep filming in GA after ‘Heartbeat Bill’

Disney executive says it would be ‘difficult’ to keep filming in GA after ‘Heartbeat Bill’
Filming for Disney’s “Lady & The Tramp” in downtown Savannah. (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - One of Walt Disney’s top executives is considering pulling production out of Georgia over the state’s new abortion law.

In an interview with Reuters news, Co-Chief Executive Bob Iger said it would be “very difficult” to continue filming in the Peach State if that law takes effect.

The “Heartbeat Bill” bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or about six weeks into the pregnancy. The bill has faced protests and calls for a film boycott since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill this month.

Disney has filmed some major projects in Georgia, including Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame. It recently filmed the live-action "Lady and the Tramp" remake in Savannah.

When asked about the law, Iger said, "I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard.” Adding that he’s “watching” the bill’s progress.

When feature film productions come to Savannah, they bring a need for a variety of services, from catering to accounting. They also need space to do work. That’s where a company called Film Buildings comes in.

“Like a lot of people, I didn’t know that film was so big until I really dug in down here," said Scott Gooch, Location Coordinator, Film Buildings.

Gooch says his business offers up space for feature film productions. One building his business helps manage is Savannah’s St. John Baptist Church, “The Mighty Fortress.”

The possibility of more productions pulling out of Georgia is leaving business operators who depend on film production dollars wondering how much of an impact they’ll feel.

“The people that are vocal about it - and most of the industry isn’t - right? But the people that are, it’s about women’s rights, but at the same time, there’s probably more women working in film now than ever, and what they don’t understand, or at least they don’t voice, is that a lot of these women are the film crew, the workers that make the movies, and they live in Georgia. They’re here. They’ve relocated their lives here for this industry and for this career path," Gooch said.

None of the productions that have pulled out of the Savannah area were committed to any of Film Buildings properties, but it’s an issue Gooch and others who stand to benefit from film production dollars will continue to keep a close eye on.

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