19 May, 2014

I just read a terrific article in Variety by Brian Lowry in which he suggests that “with gun-control proponents floundering for a legislative remedy, perhaps relocating Georgia-based productions to a less-armed camp would at least send a message.” What a wonderful idea!

It’s one thing for the “liberals” of the entertainment industry (whether actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, designers, crew or studio executives) to sign petitions and show up at rallies and make public statements (especially after tragedies like Sandy Hook)… all of which are certainly important. But when they then  reward states like Georgia and Louisiana that are at the forefront of the fight against anything even hinting of gun control, states that instead seem committed to making sure that every citizen is armed and carrying, with an influx of Hollywood money by filming movies and television shows there, the message becomes a little mixed.

Now, though I can be incredibly idealistic, I’m not totally naive. I know the decision to film in those places has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with economics. Those states have worked hard to create tax incentives to make filming cheaper, not to mention their right-to-work laws that promote (cheaper) non-union shoots.

But, as Mr. Lowry asks in his article, “Do producers really relish the thought of their stars and crews hanging out in a place where guns are so prevalent – where that loudmouth at the next table might very well be one beer away from letting a few shots fly? And doesn’t what opponents have dubbed the ‘guns everywhere’ bill make talent think twice about committing to a project that requires bunking down in Georgia for months, even years?” Maybe, maybe not. Agai, it’s not bottom lines that trump everything in this era of rabid, unchecked capitalism in America.

So, if studios and film companies want to insist on taking production to those states to cut costs, perhaps it’s time for creatives to stop it from being economically beneficent. Certainly stars and directors in a certain strata can just say, “no.” “If you want me in your project, find somewhere else to film because I don’t go there.” Or they could contractually demand that all studios and locations, all restaurants, bars and hotels, everywhere they or any member of the cast and crew is to be (no matter how briefly), be made (and proven to be) “gun-free zones.” They could additionally demand that  they, and all members of the cast and crew be transported in armored vehicles. Now do I think any of this would actually be agreed to? Of course, not. It would be too expensive. And the state of Georgia (and the other United States of the NRA) would never allow it. And so production would be forced to go elsewhere. And perhaps, after losing the revenue that film and television production brings them, some state legislators might rethink their oppistion to even the most benign forms of gun control.

The public could also impact this by boycotting all those movies and television shows that are filmed in states that are owned and run by the NRA. And not just by boycotting, but by sending letters or emails or tweets or posts to the producers, film companies and studios, saying they have made the choice not to buy tickets or watch, and giving the reason. People might even suggest to Tyler Perry that given Georgia’s commitment to not controling the proliferation of guns, and the effect gun violence has on his target audience, that having his studio in Atlanta and funneling so much money into the Georgia state coffers, might be sending an unintended message.

ps: I tweeted Brian Lowry… congratulating him on his article and received one back that thanked me, but added that based on the comments, “lots of heavily armed people convinced Obama’s a Marxist would disagree with you.”

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