The Savannah College of Art and Design announced on Friday the expansion of the university’s film and digital media studios. SCAD leaders, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, and students spoke Friday morning, celebrating the expansion with a “3, 2, 1, action!” countdown.
The expansion of the 10.9-acre Savannah Film Studios will include a Hollywood-style film backlot, an XR stage, new soundstages and more.
Andra Reeve-Rabb, Dean of the School of Entertainment Arts and Director of the SCAD Casting Office, said Savannah Film Studios will soon be the largest and most comprehensive university film studio in the entire country.
“This is going to be such a game changer,” Reeve-Rabb said.
Phase one of the expansion is expected to be complete in Fall 2021, and two other phases will be complete by 2023.
The Hollywood-style backlot is similar to iconic movie backlots like Paramount, Pinewood, and Universal, said SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. The backlot will include scenes from Savannah’s historic district, an urban city scene including alleyways and a gas station, a suburban backdrop of a town hall and homes of all different architectural styles.
“As a Film and Television major, we are always looking for sets and a way to make a space our own,” said Olivia Schneider, student. “This is such an incredible opportunity to take the cross-collaboration of all the different majors we have at SCAD and help build a world of our own. I’m very grateful that I go to a school that gives us these kinds of opportunities.”
In addition to the backlot, the expansion will include a 2,000-square-foot XR stage for AR/VR programming. The XR stage will allow students to shoot in a totally controlled environment. They’ll be able to make the perfect sunset last for hours at a time, or film at a farmhouse in 1940, then go to Mars, all in one day.
“It is what’s next,” Reeve-Rabb said. “We are always about what’s next, and we know from seeing productions like ‘The Mandalorian’ this summer, that this idea of virtual production is what’s next.”
Reeve-Rabb said one of the coolest things about the XR stage is that it will allow students from all different departments to collaborate on projects, preparing them for a “real world” work environment.
Overall, Reeve-Rabb says the expansion will only further strengthen the bridge between SCAD classrooms and jobs for students.
“It’s all about giving students all the tools they need both creatively and physically so that they are prepared,” Reeve-Rabb said. “There’s nothing like it.”
Adding to the excitement, Variety named SCAD as one of the top film schools in the world just last week.
To learn about the Savannah Film Studio, visit scad.edu.