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Will Packer is weighing in on Georgia’s new voting law.
Like Black Panther II director Ryan Coogler made clear last week, the Atlanta-based producer said on The Real that he plans to keep his productions in Georgia despite the restrictive bill.
“It’s a complex issue because most of the people who are working in the film industry, they did not vote for these legislators who put these archaic laws in place,” Packer said on the talk show. “And so while I respect some filmmakers who say, ‘I can’t film in Georgia. I can’t go down there and film because it would show support for this legislator, support for this government,’ I understand that. But make no mistake: the people that we hire, the people who work in the industry, they didn’t vote for these folks and these aren’t their laws. I don’t want to punish any of them.”
Packer echoed the position of many other Democratic leaders in Georgia, like Stacey Abrams and Sen. Jon Ossoff, who have cautioned against boycotting the state, noting that the wrong people would be hurt as a result. “I’m not moving my productions out of Georgia because the people in Georgia who drive trucks, who place lights, who do catering, who do everything on our film productions, they need these jobs,” continued Packer. “So I’m going to stay shooting in Georgia.”
The Girls Trip producer also argued that pulling business from the state would only help Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. “The other thing is that you got to understand that the Governor of Georgia, he actually is empowered by being able to say, ‘I ran Hollywood out of Georgia. Those folks are liberal, they’re left-leaning, they don’t have our viewpoints so it makes me, the Governor, look strong if I can say that these productions are leaving the state,'” said Packer, adding that he thinks Kemp’s feud with former president Donald Trump only makes him want to appease his conservative base more. “Especially since he’s got his issues with the past president who said he wasn’t strong enough because he didn’t back his unfounded claims of election fraud. So he’s trying to show to that base, ‘Look at what I’m doing. Look at how I’m being strong and I’m running these other folks out of town.'”
Instead of relocating productions out of the state, Packer suggested the best way to protest the law is to make sure to vote. “In reality, what we have to do as a community is let our voice be heard. We got to make sure that people know we’re not standing for this. We’re still going to support the real people on the ground who are working in Georgia, but we’re not going to let them get away with trying to take us back to a bygone era — and the way you do that is that you vote, period,” he said. “Remember, even in the [Derek] Chauvin case, in that trial that we just saw where we finally got a modicum of justice, remember, the attorney general that’s an elected position. So if we don’t go out and vote, we don’t have somebody that then goes and presses the charges and pushes the case to get him convicted. It’s all related. It’s all about voting and making sure that your voice is heard.”
Filmmakers have responded to the law in different ways. In an op-ed published by Shadow and Act, Coogler said that he’d move forward with filming his Marvel sequel in the state this summer. He explained that after speaking with voting rights activists in Georgia, he realized pulling business from the state would likely hurt the very same people who will be most impacted by the new law. A week prior, Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith took a different approach and instead opted to relocate their upcoming slave drama Emancipation. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access,” the pair said in a statement.
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Sterling K. Brown