Living in Florida, I've had quite a few chances to see up close what it's like when Hollywood comes to town. Back in 1994, it was all anyone could talk about when the Steven Spielberg produced series SeaQuest DSV shot a few key sequences for its second season in my native St. Petersburg. Crowds would gather down at Pier Place to watch the crews working for hours on end, fascinated with the process of filmmaking--and probably hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody famous. The city of Tampa also got a hefty dose of that silver screen magic ten years later when Marvel filmed its first big screen adaptation of The Punisher there. Seeing the movie, it was a lot of fun to pick out the familiar landmarks of the city, with people in the audience pointing at this building or that street and whispering to one another, "Hey, I go there all the time!"
One of the biggest cinematic events, however, occurred more recently with the production of Dolphin Tale, a family film loosely based on the true story of Winter, a dolphin rescued by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and fitted with a prosthetic tail after the real one had to be amputated. Some of the scenes were filmed right down the street from my house at the Admiral Farragut Academy, with a few more up at the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs. That movie actually changed the course of Tampa Bay history. It was a big hit in theaters, and created a tourist boom when kids from all across the country poured into Clearwater wanting to meet Winter in person. Interest was so intense that the previously struggling aquarium generated millions of dollars in new revenues for both itself and the city, and had to expand its modest facilities in order to accommodate all the new visitors.
For those reasons, among many others, people love to have movies filmed in their area--especially local politicians, who can tout the economic and public relations bonanza created by showcasing their home districts. That's why states bend over backwards to lure production companies in, offering them tax breaks and other incentives. It's a win-win all around, because everybody knows how much it pays to be film-friendly.
That is, unless the film you're making doesn't toe a certain political or social line.
From the Hollywood Reporter:
As Nick Loeb walked to his car with a production assistant during a day of shooting his upcoming feature film, Roe v. Wade, outside Tulane University last week, a woman wearing a headset approached and asked: "Are you the director?"
"When I told her I was, she told me to go fuck myself," Loeb recalls. "Then she threw her headset on the ground and walked off. I found out later she was our electrician."
Anecdotes such as this have become fairly common since Loeb and his production partner, Cathy Allyn, began shooting their pro-life feature film June 15 in and around New Orleans. [T]here's been little information about the filmmaker's new project, save for a flurry of articles five weeks ago alleging that Facebook wasn't allowing him to use its platform to raise money for the story of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion.
So much for the adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity.
The radio silence — until now — has been by design, both for the security of the cast and crew and in order to obtain shooting locations. To accomplish the latter, Loeb and Allyn have been shooting the film, which will wrap principal photography around July 15, under a fake title that the pair will not disclose.
And it seems that their caution is hardly misplaced. Even though the managers of most locations would cut off their right big toe to secure any other movie shoot, it seems that leftist sensibilities trump all when the subject is abortion.
Even with the secrecy, it's been a challenging shoot. At Louisiana State University, Loeb says, "we were told we were rejected due to our content, even though it will be a PG-rated film. They refused to put it in writing, but they told us on the phone it was due to content." At Tulane, where Loeb is an alum, the film shot one day, but after the school newspaper reported on the nature of the project, producers were denied a second day of shooting, according to Loeb. (Both Tulane and LSU say logistics were the problem, not the content of the movie.)
You know how I know this is BS? In 1977, a dean at the University of Oregon eagerly accepted a request to film Animal House on the campus there. According to producer Ivan Reitman, who recalls the story in the wonderful book Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story, "I asked the dean if he wanted to read the script." Reitman wanted to make sure the man knew what he was getting into, allowing a gross-out comedy to be shot at his university. "He said, "Look, I'm the guy who said no to The Graduate. Obviously, I have no idea how to read a script, so why should I read yours?" In other words, the dean didn't care how raunchy the movie was. He just wanted the university in it in case it was a hit.
If logistics really were a problem, Tulane and LSU would have worked them out.
More likely, the administration didn't want to have to take fire from its leftist professoriat and and SJW student body once word got out what was being filmed there. Way to stand up for artistic freedom there, guys! Will you be applying the same standard the next time a film that offends pro-life sensibilities comes to town?
I think we all know the answer to that one.