With the demand and need for sound stages and production space in Savannah growing, the news of a new studio opening in December 2022 was welcoming news and the talk of the town for the film community in Savannah.
SAVANNAH STUDIOS LLC announced plans for KAT-5 STUDIOS, a first of a kind, sustainable, state-of-the-art sound stage and equipment rental house complex in Savannah.
Groundbreaking plans are set for the beginning of September.
Screenwriter and Producer David L. Paterson of Arcady Bay Entertainment and producer/entertainment executive Taylor Owenby of ISP Global Capital is leading the project to bring the studio to Savannah.
“Our goal is to provide a resource for the industry, community and our environment,” said Paterson. “Many years of research went into our design and we are excited KAT-5 is moving forward with this incredible group of professionals.”
KAT-5, the studio’s name, refers to the building’s distinctive design elements; the complex will be built to take a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane. The studio is designed to serve as a staging ground for FEMA responses to state and federal declarations of emergency.
KAT-5’s concrete water tank platform base can take the weight of two V-22 Ospreys or two fully-loaded H-47 Chinook helicopters, and the building can serve as a storm shelter. The studio also plans on employing multiple green initiatives. This makes it a resource and asset to the city in multiple ways.
“The technology and design of this studio will be a magnetic draw for economic development in Savannah, Georgia,” said GA State Representative Reverend Carl Gilliard a member of the Georgia Film Commission.
Paterson and Owenby announced exclusive representation with North America’s leading real estate investment brokerage, Marcus & MIllichap (NYSE: MMI). They are also working with the award winning architectural and interior design firm GSB Architects & Interiors, Inc. and AMA Consulting Engineers to construct the studio. GSB Architects & Interiors, Inc. has been essential in the development of Tyler Perry Studios since 2007.
“David and Taylor are from the business and know the business, IATSE Local 491 members have been patiently waiting for someone with vision to step up to the plate,” said Darla D. McGlamery, I.A.T.S.E Local 491.
Design plans are purposely personalized not only to meet the needs of Hollywood productions but to build on Savannah’s $3 billion tourism industry.
The complex will also allow for daily tours of non-active sound stages and permanent standing sets for Savannah residents and visitors.
Paterson and Owenby understand the importance of working with the community to make their vision a success.
“Where most sound stages put up walls, KAT-5 Studios is opening doors. I’m a Georgia native, and went to school in Savannah, and so it is important to us that our project not just be in the community, but be part of it. Film production brings economic benefits, but we wanted to bring more to Savannah,” said Owenby.
“My very first film was in the Savannah Film Festival in 2005, and I’ve been a part of that Festival ever since. I know how special this place is, and so does Hollywood. But this is not Hollywood, and should not be treated as such,” said Paterson. “KAT-5 Studios is very excited to bring more films to Savannah, but we need to see the community benefit directly from more films being shot locally. Our success will be tied to the community’s success.”
Movies including Ant Man & The Wasp, Ford v Ferrari, Forrest Gump, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Lady and the Tramp, and Glory, and studios and streamers including Amazon and Netflix have all shot exteriors in Savannah, but have had to fulfill their sound stage needs elsewhere.
“Infrastructure is one of the most critical needs for maintaining and building a sustainable industry in Savannah,” agrees Beth Nelson, Savannah Regional Film Commission Executive Director. ““Having a purpose-built studio in the region will allow Savannah to move to the next level as a production hub, building our crew base, attracting more film industry vendors, and benefitting our local economy.”
Film and television companies have come to Savannah for decades to capture its beauty and unique charm but the lack of first-rate production facilities has prevented the city from securing many full productions.
“KAT-5 Studios solves this with our environmentally focused, purpose-built studio, bringing significant revenues to the area not only in jobs created but in tourism dollars as well,” said Owenby.
The additional incentives and tax credits that the State of Georgia and the Savannah Economic Development Authority offer makes the Savannah area a very appealing opportunity.
“We are excited about having this new multi-dimensional sound stage coming to town and their ideas of also making it available to tours for visitors and groups that come to this area,” said Joseph Marinelli, Visit Savannah President.
KAT-5 Studios will also have training programs in partnership with local schools and unions for at-risk youth and returning military to teach them skills that will lead to higher paying jobs, not only in the film industry, but in construction and trades, hospitality, office, and IT industries.