Atlanta - 10/30/2015 - Story by Ellie Hensley, Staff Writer for the Atlanta Business Chronicle
Metro Atlanta now boasts over a dozen film and television studios, and this December it will add another to its ranks.
Big Peach Studios, at 800 Forrest Street on the Westside, is taking a slightly different approach than other big sound stages like Pinewood Atlanta Studios and the planned Atlanta Metro Studios, which target blockbuster or “tent pole” film productions.
The nearly 27,000-square-foot space, once a nondescript office building, will cater to independent films and television shows, commercials and corporate videos. It will offer two sound stages, one 4,000 square feet and the other 2,000 square feet, plus administrative offices and approximately 10,000 square feet of vendor space that will include sound design and post-production.
“As we’ve seen the entertainment industry grow, there’s obviously more need for infrastructure,” said Ryan Felton, who will be president of the new studio. “There’s a lot in place already and more coming, but a lot of those are targeting full-blown, big budget pictures. We feel that small and independent pictures were being overlooked.”
Both stages will feature drive-in vehicle access, hair and makeup stages, wardrobe facilities, canteens and a producer’s suite.
The largest soundstage also will offer a 40-foot, 180 degree green screen, and Felton said he knows of only one other green screen like it in the area. It will be managed by Atlanta Video and Advertising (AVA), a video production company whose clients include The Home Depot, the Weather Channel, ESPN and Georgia Tech. Felton, whose background is in producing and directing television commercials and corporate projects at AVA, will continue in his previous job role as well as managing the studio.
Big Peach Studios is owned by a private equity company, 800 Forrest Street Holdings, which is made up of various area business people, including doctors and lawyers. The group acquired the building from a bank after its previous owner entered foreclosure. Felton said it sold for about $1.7 million in April of this year.
Under its previous ownership, the building was going to be converted into sound stages called Forrest Street Studios, but the project failed to get off the ground.
“It’s under brand new ownership now,” Felton said. “Our studio has nothing to do with the previous tenants. I approached [the equity group] with the idea of developing the property for this purpose.”
PSG Construction began renovations in mid-August 2015 and the new studio is scheduled to be completed by December.
The studio has already pre-booked productions for its first two months in operation, though Felton could not say what those productions would be.
Felton and Big Peach Studios are part of a group that is pushing to amend Georgia’s current film and television tax incentive, which applies only to productions that spend $500,000 or more in Georgia. In February, Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) introduced House Bill 285, which would reduce the required spend in Georgia to $250,000.
“This would be a welcomed change and would invigorate independent film production in Georgia,” Felton said.
Big Peach Studios has a vision for how it will fit into Georgia’s burgeoning film and entertainment industry in the long term, Felton said.
“In addition to providing sound stages and production facilities, we want our studio to be active in helping train and educate the next generation,” Felton said. “We’ll accomplish this by hosting industry-related workshops, seminars, training programs and volunteer opportunities.”
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