allegedly with Bo and Ryan | Episode 2
Georgia’s film and television industry has been reigning supreme for the last few years but when you’re on top, everyone is gunning for you. In Episode 2 of Allegedly… with Bo and Ryan we answer the question: “Can Anyone Knock Georgia Off the Entertainment Throne?
Allegedly… with Bo and Ryan Podcast E2 | Transcript
Bo: [00:00:00] Little known fact, Ryan: Guardians of the Galaxy actually filmed right here on Earth.
Ryan: [00:00:07] No. Are you serious? That’s one of my favorite movies. Don’t tell me that. I mean, what’s next? You’re going to tell me that Thor isn’t actually filmed in Asgard?
Bo: [00:00:16] Well, I hate to break it to you, my friend.
Ryan: [00:00:19] Welcome to Allegedly with Bow and Ryan, the only Entertainment and law podcast that brings you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Allegedly.
Bo: [00:00:29] I’m Bo Bowen.
Ryan: [00:00:30] And I’m Ryan Schmidt.
Bo: [00:00:32] You’re listening to allegedly with Bo and Ryan. We’re coming to you from our law offices in beautiful historic Savannah, Georgia, where we’ll be chatting about pop culture, hot legal topics in the news, and doing our best to change the way people think about the law and lawyers.
Ryan: [00:00:49] But first, a little about us. Bo’s beard is not real. It takes 90 minutes to apply each day.
Bo: [00:00:57] Ryan’s mustache, on the other hand, is very real and has been passed down in his family for 19 generations.
Ryan: [00:01:06] Together, we are Savannah’s consummate renegade and legal titans.
Bo: [00:01:10] And the only corporate entertainment lawyers in the free world who have never lost a single case, allegedly. Welcome to our second show, Ryan.
Ryan: [00:01:22] Hey. Hey.
Bo: [00:01:23] Did you ever think we would make it this far?
Ryan: [00:01:26] Honestly, I did not.
Bo: [00:01:27] Well, I understand completely. We had a few false starts, but now we’re on the road to what’s our goal here? 10,000 shows.
Ryan: [00:01:37] That sounds realistic, but let’s just start with one podcast every two weeks.
Bo: [00:01:43] All right, fair enough. Now. Last time I know you wanted to talk about movies and television and the things they get wrong about lawyers. Well, today I thought — I want to chat — we could chat about some potential threats to the movie and television industry, particularly to the Georgia film and television industry and whether or not we should really actually be concerned about them. Now, I know because you told me you’ve been reading a little bit about the current state of the entertainment industry in Georgia. Ryan So how have things been looking recently?
Ryan: [00:02:20] Really good, Bo. I mean, you know, since 2015, the Georgia legislature passed comprehensive tax incentives for film and television professionals looking to come in and really take advantage of the rebates that the state had to offer. And each year it’s been growing steadily. There’s been more infrastructure that’s come to the state and. The really — the exclamation point on all of that is this past year there’s been $4.4 billion of economic impact in the state of Georgia from film and television productions.
Bo: [00:02:52] And is that is that a record for Georgia?
Ryan: [00:02:55] That is by far the best year that we’ve ever had.
Bo: [00:02:58] Oh, that’s pretty cool. Well, I have to imagine, Ryan, that ironically, one of the biggest reasons for that is COVID, the very thing that actually almost destroyed the entertainment industry. It created such a vacuum for productions, for film and television. You know, all the studios kind of whipped through their catalog everything they had on the shelf because nothing could film that. Now there’s this huge demand for production. I mean, who would have ever thought it?
Ryan: [00:03:34] Yeah, no, it’s so true. I mean, I remember back in the early days of COVID sitting down, you know, watching Tiger King, and I was I was happy to do it. But, you know, I was thinking, what are they going to do when all these shows run out? And we’re experiencing it right now?
Bo: [00:03:49] Yeah, absolutely. Every place is filled to capacity. And as you mentioned, the infrastructure is unbelievable. I mean, right now there are over 120 soundstages in Georgia, and every single one, to my understanding, is pretty much at capacity and has a waiting list to get in there. And the last I think I read recently that there over 50 that are in the at somewhere in the process of being built. So, I mean, you know, you’ve got to figure that 4.4 billion is only going to be going up as we move forward.
Bo: [00:04:24] And so what’s the benefit you think, of more studios coming to town and you know, allows productions to kind of make make a home here and work year after year? I mean, what why is that good for us?
Ryan: [00:04:37] Well, stages in general, you know, the reason they prefer them is they can come in, they can move in, you know, and buy a soundstage. We’re just referring to basically a studio, a big giant room where they can come in and they can build their sets. They can leave all their equipment overnight. They can stay there for weeks, months, even years. Some, you know, like Marvel, will go to a stage and rent it for, you know, multiple years and have just all their same crew, their say, all their equipment, everything there. You know, they don’t have to like in Savannah, we don’t have any stages. So in Savannah, basically everything is filmed on location. So you have to move it all in. You have to move it all out. But a stage allows you to just keep it there. And, you know, like I said, the most successful ones, they have long term contracts for years and years and years.
Ryan: [00:05:29] Sounds like a pretty good argument to bring a stage to Savannah, don’t you think.
Bo: [00:05:33] Considering there’s almost going to be almost 200 and right now there’s zero in Savannah. Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty good argument. But, you know, I think another reason we’ve seen such an incredible booming year is all those same things that brought people to Georgia in the first place. They’re all still present, you know, that state tax credit, the incentives, think about other things. Think about the climate in Georgia. You know, you can film here year round for the most part, and there’s some part of Georgia that can literally stand in for almost any place in the entire world.
Ryan: [00:06:11] No, that’s a good point. I haven’t thought about that.
Bo: [00:06:13] Yeah. I mean, you’ve got mountains, you’ve got ocean, you’ve got modern cities. You’ve got places like Savannah where there’s a lot of history and old historical structures. You know, we have everything. And you know, if we don’t have it, then we got about 10 billion green screens that can damn well make it. So just ask just as Marvel, you know, in fact, little known fact Ryan Guardians of the Galaxy actually filmed right here on Earth.
Ryan: [00:06:44] No. Are you serious? That’s one of my favorite movies. Don’t tell me that. I mean, what’s next? You’re going to tell me that Thor isn’t actually filmed in Asgard?
Bo: [00:06:54] Well, I hate to break it to you, my friend.
Ryan: [00:06:58] Breaking my heart today. Well, let’s not forget that, you know, we are doing our part here in Savannah, too. I mean, we’ve got the Savannah Film Alliance that you started, Southern Gateway Production Services. And just what we’re doing here with The Bowen Law Group. I mean, what can you tell me about that?
Bo: [00:07:13] Well, I mean, look, Savannah has it’s not just us. I mean, we’re trying to do our part, obviously, but the Savannah Regional Film Commission, we got to shout them out. I mean, they are doing an amazing job selling Savannah to productions all over the world to come here and all the benefits that we can provide them. And if we can continue to provide that infrastructure, it’s just going to get better and better. So things are looking really good right now. Things are. All over. But if you remember, Mr. Schmidt, that was not my original point here. I want to talk about some of the threats to that 4.4 billion that’s going to, you know, and its ever rocketing increase. You know, overall, to me, there is one threat that is far and away the greatest threat to the entertainment industry in Georgia.
Ryan: [00:08:11] Aliens?
Bo: [00:08:12] Nope. Close the Georgia legislature.
Ryan: [00:08:18] No kidding.
Bo: [00:08:19] Oh, my God. Throwing up roadblocks. These politicians are killing me. So let’s let’s talk about some of their greatest hits. I mean, the one everybody was talking about recently, the Heartbeat Bill. Well, remind everybody what that was all about.
Ryan: [00:08:37] Okay. So the heartbeat bill, which is actually gone into gone into effect now, given the recent Supreme Court ruling, look to limit any legal abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which was about six weeks when that first was introduced over three years ago, the ACLU filed a lawsuit. Hollywood, you know, threatened to boycott. And it was really a big threat to the entertainment industry in in Georgia, to the point where all these different studios were making a. Commitments to move elsewhere or threats to move elsewhere. And luckily that that law was stayed while the the the new Supreme Court case was being decided. But it really, really put a. Had a chance to put a pause button on everything that’s been built up.
Bo: [00:09:34] Well, yeah, no doubt about it. And I remember back then we were all saying, look, there’s no reason to worry. There’s no chance in the world this will ever go into effect. It’s clearly unconstitutional, of course, not realizing that. How the makeup of the Supreme Court would change over the next several years.
Ryan: [00:09:52] Yeah, I had a little bit more faith in stare decisis and precedent. Maybe naively, but yeah, yeah, we’re here.
Bo: [00:10:01] But, you know, they say the Supreme Court is not political, right? Not at all. So but here’s the ironic thing about it. I think, you know, all those same arguments that people made about why, you know, boycott Georgia, they passed this law. Well, because of the Supreme Court decisions in that Dobbs case, you know, overturning Roe versus Wade. Now you’ve got almost half the states in the country that are in the process or already have outlawed abortion in some way. And so it’s almost given Georgia a little bit of a break because it’s like, what are you going to what are you going to say? You’re not going to film anywhere. I mean, what if what if Congress passes, which, look, don’t think for a second they won’t try. If the Republicans take control of Congress in the next election, they could outlaw abortion in the entire country. What happens then? You know, you only get a film in Canada and Mexico. I mean. You know…
Ryan: [00:11:01] Good point.
Bo: [00:11:02] It’s a scary time. It’s like, what’s the country in The Handmaid’s Tale? I don’t watch that show, but.
Ryan: [00:11:11] Oh, yeah, I know it feels like that sometimes. That’s why I to stop watching that show like it’s too close to home. But we also had the voter law. I mean, tell me what happened there.
Bo: [00:11:22] Well, that was when they came in after, you know, Biden won Georgia and they thought, well, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll just make it way harder for people that voted for Biden to vote. And so they they passed all these new rules and regulations that were definitely targeting majority-minority neighborhoods, majority black neighborhoods. You know, they were closing down. They passed rules about not being able to keep polling places open on Sunday, limiting hours only in very targeted districts, all clearly designed to suppress votes in certain areas. So, again, not Georgia’s finest moment.
Ryan: [00:12:07] And as a result of that, you know, there was some real legitimate calls to boycott Georgia again. And I’m glad that, you know, that has subsided. But I was I would say that there’s constantly threats that are coming from the state legislator, even to the incentive itself.
Bo: [00:12:29] Oh, my God. Of everything we mentioned, that was easily the most dangerous. They they tried to just I don’t even remember who it was, but someone in the legislature tried to put in a bill that was clearly going to pass just at the last minute, some restrictions on the Georgia entertainment incentive. They wanted to make it non transferable. And what that means is when when a production is going to film in Georgia, they turn in their budget and they get a letter. It’s called a pre certification letter, letting people know, letting the production know this is what you’re going to be entitled to, You know, in tax credits, if you spend this amount of money that’s in your budget. So productions can actually take that pre certification letter and sell it usually in the neighborhood of $0.80 on the dollar and sell those credits and transfer them in advance and use that then to help finance their production of the picture. So by making that non transferable that really did some would do some major damage to the appeal of the incentive in the first place. On top of that, they wanted to put a cap on exactly what productions could be entitled to. Now there’s no cap at all. If you come in to Georgia and you spend $10 billion and guess what, you’re going to be entitled to the 30%. So, you know, that was had that passed. And trust me, the the industry as one rose up literally overnight and said, uh, we do not need to do this. And it got luckily got yanked out really quickly. But again, what does the legislature hold? In store for us next, you know. Thanks, guys.
[00:14:19] Yeah, I remember when we found that article that they were looking to do that. I remember how chaotic even our office was with the phone calls, trying to trying to get people on the horn and say, this is a stupid idea. But, you know, certainly you’ve got a lot of knowledge in this area. You’re really passionate about protecting the film and television industry in Georgia. I got to say, I was reading Variety magazine, maybe you’ve heard of it. And there was somebody I knew, the founder of the Savannah Film Alliance, Mr. Bo Bowen. And you know, they talk to you about about what the ongoing threats look like. And, you know, just, you know, tell me about that experience.
Bo: [00:14:58] Well, you know, look, I appreciate hearing from a publication like Variety. I mean, they’re very well respected. They cover things. But basically my message to them was the whole idea of restricting the incentives was 100% dumb. So, you know, it wasn’t. Look, the fact of the matter is, you know, we’ve got to be vigilant always these threats. We have to take them seriously. And the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of them thus far have been internal. It’s been that state legislature being shortsighted, you know, trying to restrict people’s freedom, their rights. I mean, it’s just they want to march Georgia backwards instead of forward. And so we have to remain ever willing to be alert, to fight, to react and do what we need to do to make sure that doesn’t happen. But I should mention not all the threats are internal. There are some external threats, too. Now. I mean, when you got over $4 billion at stake, then there’s going to be some other people gunning for you.
Ryan: [00:16:12] Oh, for sure. I mean, every other state in this country, especially states like California and New York, that have historically had huge film industries, now they’re feeling a little bit, you know, jealous of what, you know, the attention Georgia’s getting. I mean, I saw an article last week where Governor Newsom of California wasted no time trying to take political advantage of Dobbs case and overturn Roe v Wade and basically said that there’s no there’s no need to film in Georgia. Just everybody come back. Every production of all time in the future should just be in California.
Bo: [00:16:50] Well, let me get a little philosophical with you here right now. In the words of the immortal Socrates, Gavin Newsom is a dipshit. What a self-serving, cowardly position. I mean, I get that he wants to promote his state and he’s the governor. That’s his job. But California isn’t exactly hurting for entertainment dollars and productions. I mean, but he’s essentially saying, you know, let’s just give up. You know, let’s not fight. Let’s let’s run and hide in the safe zones. Let’s screw all the hardworking entertainment industry workers in dozens of states with Republican legislatures, you know, let them go broke. Forget about them. You know, probably why Socrates said that the first place. Sure. Well, I have the exact amount of respect for that position that it deserves. Absolutely none. That’s not how we’re going to change things. I mean, we are going to fight and we are going to win. We are going to change things. And guess what, Mr. California Governor? We’re going to keep making movies and TV shows right here in Georgia while we’re doing it.
Ryan: [00:18:03] I love that. So good. And you also got to think there’s other states besides those states that have been historically built up with these big entertainment industries that are trying to jump into the fray. They’re trying to chase after those those quick bucks. It seems like every other week I’m seeing another state trying to pass incentives that are equal to or surpass what’s going on in Georgia just to drive those production dollars to their states.
Bo: [00:18:27] Well, you’re right, But it ain’t going to work, you know, and I’ll tell you why. The incentives themselves are an important part. And so, yes, any state can pass an incentive just like Georgia’s. But that is by no means the most important part. Georgia has spent decades and literally billions of dollars building up an infrastructure and a crew base to meet the needs of the film industry. No one outside of New York or California can even come close to that. All right. I mean, and you can’t undersell how important that is. I mean, let me make an analogy. So think about it like this Oak. There are dozens and dozens of honeymoon suites on both the US and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. All right. So that’s that’s a very popular honeymoon destination. Now, what if hey. Hi. A Georgia suddenly decided one day that they want an end on some of that sweet honeymoon cash. So they rush out and they immediately build dozens and dozens and dozens of honeymoon suites right in the heart of. Hey, here, Georgia. Now, don’t get me wrong, Ryan. I’m sure they would be lovely. One problem. They’re missing the waterfalls. You’ve got to have both or you’re never going to compete. So you got to have the incentive and you got to have the ability to actually follow through with the infrastructure.
Ryan: [00:20:06] So we’ve been talking a lot about different threats to the Georgia film and television industry, but there’s certainly been national threats that have also shut down this state or threatened to shut down the state and really the whole country while we’re at it. I mean, COVID, hello, the pandemic.
Bo: [00:20:25] Oh, that wasn’t just the United States. That was basically the world.
Ryan: [00:20:28] Are you serious? I thought it was flat, man. Now, you’re absolutely right. I mean, I — it was really interesting to see how creative production companies got and trying to recycle footage and make like at home zoom, watching parties with like reality shows. But there’s only so much of that you could you could really do. And the production dollars were really, really hurting at that point.
Bo: [00:20:54] Oh, for sure. And let’s not forget, monkeypox is out there.
Ryan: [00:21:01] Don’t remind me. Okay? So, I mean, the other the other thing that I think about is just how close we came to another nationwide industry shutdown with the ozone strikes.
Bo: [00:21:16] Oh, man. Yeah. We were within literally two or three votes of that happening. For people that don’t remember, that was when the — they were negotiating the new contracts for the upcoming years and the members themselves were voting on whether to accept the recommendation of ozone. And if not, then the entire industry, all the crew was going to walk off of every production for the foreseeable future. I mean, that could have been catastrophic for the industry.
Ryan: [00:21:48] And how how close did that come to almost happening.
Bo: [00:21:52] So close that there was a period of time that people when the vote first came in, people thought, okay, it’s happened, we’ve lost the vote, it’s time for the strike. And the word was going out when suddenly it was like, Oh, no, wait. It turns out that it did pass by literally a few hundred votes nationwide.
Ryan: [00:22:13] Oh, my God. Yeah, You can’t get much closer than that. So for listeners that don’t know what what is IATSE?
Bo: [00:22:19] Well, that stands for the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees. Basically, it’s a labor union that covers almost all of the crew on movies, know there’s a lot of unions and guilds that take that have a lot of authority over over productions. You know, you’ve got SAG, Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA that really represents most of the cast. You’ve got Teamsters with drivers, but IATSE is by far the biggest of all the unions. And they represent, I would say, probably 90% of the crew. So needless to say, if IAC goes on strike, you ain’t going to have any movies.
Ryan: [00:23:02] But I mean, I see all these television shows, you know, Ben Stiller executive produces or directs everything. So he could just you know, he could star in it, he could film it. Would it really be a big deal?
Bo: [00:23:13] I’m pretty sure Ben himself would tell you, Yeah, it would be a big deal. So, I mean, I honestly, they do incredible work. And what people don’t tend to forget is, you know. The real importance of of the unions is not just to make certain that their members are taken care of, which is obviously the fact you want to make sure they have health benefits that the retirement every I mean, there’s a lot of benefits to being in the union. But by far, to me, what I see as the most important is the safety aspect. You know, almost every time you hear of a, you know, a tragic accident that happens, it’s because it was a non-union production like Sarah Jones here in the Savannah area a few years ago, non union production. They really place a huge importance on safety. And so for that reason, you know, it’s a good thing that they were able to work that out.
Ryan: [00:24:15] Absolutely Well and I know that you do quite a bit of work with IATSE too.
Bo: [00:24:19] Yeah. Yeah, we are. Our firm is what’s called a term signatory, meaning that if any production needs a, you know, a contract, what’s called the term contract, the low budget theatrical term agreement with IAC, they can come to us and we can help them procure it. So even productions that are that are independent or low budget, we can make sure they have access to the absolute best rates, terms and conditions in the industry.
Ryan: [00:24:47] How much how much savings could a production get from that?
Bo: [00:24:50] Well, I mean, you’ve got two choices. If you don’t go through a signatory and get the term agreement, then you have to negotiate what they call a single production deal. And almost every term of that is going to be significantly higher. So you’re talking about. I’m going to say in the neighborhood of 10 to 15% higher. So that may not sound like much in theory, but think about it. In a $1 million movie, you save $150,000. That’s a big chunk of change.
Ryan: [00:25:22] Yeah. No kidding. You can hire as many Ben Stiller as you want for that.
Bo: [00:25:26] Well, you know, at least someone named Ben. Look. Long story short, even with these challenges, George is going to be fine as long as movie producers can find everything they need and save money while they’re at it, they’re going to keep coming to Georgia.
Ryan: [00:25:45] You know what I think is a pretty good sign? There’s there are people a whole lot smarter than us still spending billions of dollars a year right now building new studios in stages in Georgia. I don’t think we’d see that happening if the industry was in imminent danger.
Bo: [00:26:02] Yeah, I mean, you’re absolutely right. But but obviously, we have to stay vigilant. You know, we got to keep fighting for human rights and freedoms of every citizen of our state.
Ryan: [00:26:12] You mean kind of like how the Boeing Law Group has won dozens of Nobel Peace Prizes for our tireless work in fighting for justice.
Bo: [00:26:19] Exactly right. Another reason why, of course, we’re the most successful lawyers in the history of American jurisprudence.
Ryan: [00:26:27] Allegedly. Well, that’s our show for today. Thanks for listening to the legal mastery of the highly intelligent and easily most attractive, true legal outlaw lawyers in Savannah. And remember, the only lawyers in the free world who have never lost a single case, allegedly, to continue to receive free edge of your seat. Legal anecdotes mind blowing takes on hot legal topics in general. Master Class in Awesomeness. Please head over to the bone log group dot com slash podcast and look for.
Bo: [00:26:57] Dude, why are we asking? Just hit subscribe already.