Studio Savannah, a venture formed by two independent producers who love the city (and want it to share a bit of Atlanta’s production largesse) said it has locked down plans for a sustainable sound stage complex that will break ground next month. The facility will span two acres with an initial investment of $40 million.
Its partners David Paterson of Arcady Bay Entertainment and Taylor Owenby of ISP Global Capital are calling the complex KAT-5 for its ability to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. They indicated that its unusual design elements, which include a rooftop solar farm and a “concrete water tank platform base” that will allow it to serve as a staging ground for FEMA, helped get it off the ground.
So did demand for soundstages in Georgia, where state tax credits have made Atlanta a major production hub. Savannah, a 45-minute flight or circa four hour drive, is a popular place to shoot exteriors (Ant Man & The Wasp, Ford v Ferrari, Forrest Gump, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Lady and the Tramp, Glory) but lacks infrastructure.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) operates Savannah Film Studios, three sound stages in a 22,000-square-foot facility that originally served as a meat packing plant and that is expanding as well. But few other development attempts have petered out.
Savannah offers some local production cash rebates on top of the Georgia state benefit.
The new complex, 130,00 square feet total, will have three floors of office and support space. The partners said they purchased a total of 30 acres with additional expansion in mind.
Owenby is a Georgia native. Paterson (The Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins) said he became attached to Savannah during five years on the board of the film festival. The two worked on the idea for KAT-5 during the pandemic.
SCAD’s new construction began last spring on a 10.9-acre project that will include a Hollywood-style film backlot, a next-generation XR stage for virtual productions and new soundstages. It is building a second XR stage in Atlanta. A SCAD rep noted that of the school’s nearly 15,000 alumni from entertainment and digital media disciplines, 3,500 of them alumni work in the Georgia entertainment industry.