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Where Was Emancipation Filmed? Filming Locations Revealed

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Produced by and starring Will Smith, Emancipation is one of the movies that will surely allow people to return to the time when slavery was still quite prominent in America, as this is a historical movie that will make us realize what a dark time that was. Of course, the movie is quite realistic in its approach and takes place in Louisiana, as it follows the story of an enslaved African-American man. But where was Emancipation filmed?

As the film takes place in Louisiana, it was only right for the filmmakers to film the entire movie in Louisiana. Of course, filming it in the same place where it is set makes it historically accurate. There is also the fact that Louisiana was always known for being one of the hotbeds for slavery back in the day.

It might be true that this movie comes out in the same year that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in front of the entire world, but Apple TV+ was determined to see the movie getting released due to the fact that it is actually an impactful film that could open a lot of eyes. Of course, the fact that it was filmed in Louisiana makes it more historically accurate as well. Now, let’s look at this topic in greater detail.

What Is Emancipation About?

While the world is yet to move on from the Will Smith slap heard worldwide back in March during the Academy Awards, it is quite surprising to see that a Will Smith-produced movie that also stars the controversial actor is going to see a release date soon. This movie is entitled Emancipation, which was filmed before the slap actually happened. Understanding what this movie is all about will make you see why Apple TV+ is determined to see it getting released on its Apple TV+ streaming app.

Basically, Emancipation is a historical action-drama movie that goes all the way back to the 1860s when slavery was still quite prominent in America, especially in the southern states like Louisiana. The movie is based on the true story of Gordon (named Peter in the film), who was an African-American slave that worked on a plantation during the 1860s.

However, Peter was able to escape his plantation after he decided that he could no longer endure the whippings and harsh treatment of slaves working in the plantations. As such, he decided to become a free man by escaping his enslavers during a time when slavery was still prominent but was already frowned on by a lot of lawmakers.

Of course, it is worth mentioning that this very same slave had photographs of his heavily injured back that were published back in the 1860s. These photographs were used as evidence during a time when certain lawmakers were looking to abolish slavery in America. Of course, it is worth mentioning that this was the time when Abraham Lincoln was still president and was heavily against slavery.

In that regard, the film takes place in Louisiana, which used to be a hotbed for slavery during the earlier part of the 19th century. Of course, it was also in Louisiana where the plantation that Gordon (Peter) worked for was located during his time.

The fact that this is a film that was meant to open eyes was one of the reasons why it needed to be released regardless of the issues surrounding Will Smith. Of course, while Will Smith once said that he didn’t want to make films about slavery because he didn’t want his people to be seen in that light, this movie is kind of an exception due to how strong its message is.

Where Was Emancipation Filmed?

Of course, as mentioned, Emancipation takes place in Louisiana because this is historically the location where the plantation that Gordon worked on was located. However, where was Emancipation filmed? And was it filmed in the same location as the setting of the movie?

Originally, the plan was for the filmmakers to film Emancipation in Georgia due to the tax incentives that filmmakers get when they film their movies in that state. Georgia has always been a prime destination due to the Film Tax Incentive that has attracted a lot of filmmakers in the past, especially if they’re looking to cut expenses.


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However, the cast and crew ultimately decided against filming in Georgia because of the fact they were deterred by Georgia’s GOP-backed election law signed by conservative Governor Brian Kemp in March 2021. 

According to a report by CNBC, there were civil rights groups that believed that this law “disproportionately hurts voters of color.” That means that it wasn’t exactly a fair law to people of color, including African-Americans. The report also says that civil rights groups claim that “the legislation adds new identification requirements to absentee voting, limits ballot drop boxes, and prohibits offering food or water to voters in line, among other provisions.”

Considering that the filmmakers and the crew of Emancipation were looking to film a movie about African-American slavery to send a message to the entire world, they felt that it wasn’t proper to film a movie in a location that passed a law that was unfair to people of color.

In that regard, the filmmakers decided against filming in Georgia as the filming location was moved to Louisiana, which is also the state wherein the film is set. Specifically, the movie was filmed in New Orleans in June 2021. Of course, aside from the legislation that was passed, the crew felt that filing in New Orleans, Louisiana, was a perfect choice because that would make the film more historically accurate.


There is also the fact that this state is one that has always been historically connected with African-American slavery before it was abolished. As such, filming in Louisiana was also a way for the filmmakers to connect with the overall theme of the movie, as Will Smith and the rest of the crew were brought back to the roots of Gordon’s story decades ago.


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Of course, New Orleans, Louisiana, is now a very welcoming place that has already moved on from the dark times to become more inclusive and welcoming of its guests regardless of color or race. That is why the filmmakers also found New Orleans to be a very great location that welcomed them with open arms during the time that Emancipation was still being filmed.

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