Earlier this year, Alabama lawmakers passed what’s been called the most restrictive abortion ban in the country.
The backlash was immediate. Ordinary people, political pundits and public figures were quick to condemn not just the law, but the state of Alabama as a whole.
Celebrities targeted our small but growing film and television production industry, calling for a boycott of Alabama. WAAY 31 found out, like so many acting careers, the hysteria was a flash in the pan.
Tommy Hodge owns Prototype Multimedia in Huntsville. They do post-production work for films and TV shows. He’s currently working on editing two independent films.
He was having a pretty good year, and then, the "Human Life Protection Act" was signed into law.
“Like, why? Why did this even have to happen?” Hodge told WAAY 31.
He could hear it, the faint death knell of Alabama’s fragile film industry, and just as the business was set for a banner year.
According to the Alabama film office, 2018 was a record year for film in the state. There were 147 productions, generating $63.5 million in expenditures.
Suddenly, movie moguls, media reps and woke actors were taking to social platforms and cable news sets pointing a collective shame-faced finger at us, threatening to pack up their cameras and go home.
“You have all this instantaneous response, and a lot of times, nobody’s taken the time to research the topic. They just read the headline, and then, they’re immediately commenting on it,” Hodge said.
Social media and the big cable networks, which sometimes can’t even find Alabama on a map, were outraged. However, that didn’t last long. Maybe they realized that this law will be tied up in the courts for years, and, like it or not, abortion will remain the law of the land for now. The mob quickly pivoted to the next injustice du juor.
“I haven’t had a single person call me up and say, ‘Tommy. We were considering you to do this work, but now that you’re in that red state, we’re done. We’re not going to do it.' I haven’t heard a single person do that,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Mobile film office confirmed that, saying they’ve seen “no effects from the abortion ban. We’re doing real well.”
In a promotional video, the Alabama film office shows off the state’s chameleon-like locations. We can be Florida, North Carolina, Vermont, country to city, beaches to mountains, we have it all. A lot of companies have already taken advantage of that.
Alabama has a lot going for it for movie makers. Costs are low here, plus they get money back at up to $20 million per year in incentives. This year, there was so much work, the state ran out of incentive money.
Hodge wonders how long companies will keep filming here.
“It’s hard for them to just kinda get past that and go, ‘Oh well, I’m there to do a job, but I’m living in this place that is violating a fundamental belief of mine, and so I really don’t know if I want to go there,’” Hodge said.
Several media companies have said they will wait for these laws to play out in the courts and not put the livelihoods of hundreds of production staff in jeopardy.