|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 09 Dec 2011 : 09:14:22
Although Independent films are notorious for being created without the help of a studio, a thought just recently crossed my mind.
Has an Independent Director ever personally taken a part of his budget and built, from the ground up, a personal film studio of his own?
I'm talking, all of the blue prints, leveled dirt, carpenters, instillation, sound proofing, office, security, kitchen, bathrooms, EVERYTHING. Has an Independent Filmmaker ever built a real studio just for his personal work?
|6 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - 23 Mar 2012 : 19:18:27
I think many film-makers diversify into making commercials and music videos as these pursuits bring in a more reliable and steady source of income. It is with this income that they invest and build their own facilities, hoping that once built it will be more cost-effective for them to shoot their own movies. However, the reality is nothing like this, as the ongoing cost of maintaining this space can be quite large and has to be balanced across the opportunity cost of what they could earn from that space using it for more regular and guaranteed money. I'd be curious to find out if any independent film production companies have managed to achieve this, given the fact that generating regular income from film can be so unreliable.
Check out my blog to read about my attempts to make it in the film world http://www.tdstranger.com
||Posted - 20 Dec 2011 : 01:35:12
Slightly different but...
Robert Rodriguez built his own Soundstage facilities for the making of Sin City. He preferred to work in Texas. Although he's hardly Indie anymore.
The producers of Babylon 5 built their own soundstage out of a warehouse to save money. They had some initial studio feed money when it started so they are a bit bigger than your example as we well.
Lastly, not a movie thing, but Adam Corrolla built his own studio within a warehouse for podcasting. He felt it was cheaper than renting studio time and allowed him store cars and stuff.
I suspect most indies are building sets in their garage when they aren't shooting on location.
||Posted - 10 Dec 2011 : 16:28:36
One fan film company, Star Trek Phase II, has built its own studio - it bought an empty car lot in upstate NY and converted it into a sound stage for making ST fan films. I'm not sure it's a good investment, since they are not allowed to make money from those films, but they've got kudos for their work so far.
I was thinking of something like that, to gain experience in the business.
||Posted - 09 Dec 2011 : 22:44:59
I think that one of the misconceptions people have of "Hollywood" is that traditional movie studios... like WB, Fox, Universal, MGM, Sony... still are all "in house" as far as crew and facilities go.
In today's world, the majors do still operate backlots and stages (but NOT MGM), and a few do have some Grip and Electric equipment they own and use on their productions. Otherwise, every production is essentially produced by a small production company which runs billing and distribution through the bigger studio system. And nearly EVERY member of the cast and crew are freelancers and the majority of the equipment (camera, grip, electric, makeup, wardrobe, fx, etc) are all rented on as-needed basis from outside vendors (or the crew who is hired).
Essentially, studios today are merely large plots of land with sound stages which can be rented by virtually anyone. It often isn't cost effective a small production company to build a soundstage and maintain it when there are alternatives available. Quite often, in fact, major movies will just rent empty warehouses or old factories which have a lot of floor space to build sets in. This means bringing in portable A/C units and hiring security and bringing in catering every day and building a temporary office, and on and on and on... but productions by nature are temporary "factories" anyway. So unless your production company will A) be in physical production CONSTANTLY with back-to-back productions or B) can rent out that space when you are not using it for you own productions, there is no purpose in tying up investment money in a permanent stage space.
A lot of small production companies have their own OFFICE spaces for pre-production and post-production and "permanent" executive personnel. Amblin actually has a building on the Universal lot. Many other companies just rent out office space wherever they desire it. George Lucas went so far as to build his own tranquil company office space complete with post-production sound and editing facilities north of San Francisco. But no stages for physical production.
It's really important to understand that EVERY movie, tv show, music video, commercial, reality show, etc... is really just a "factory" that makes ONE thing. The executive offices generally stay in the same place, but the "factory" itself is mobile, going wherever it needs to in order to "manufacture" the product until it is time to distribute it into the "stores" (theaters). This is one reason why the tax "incentive" scam is a lie. Yes, tax bribes/incentives given by governments to specific productions do bring work to some people, but those jobs are very temporary and typically, the governments are handing out more money (via tax breaks and outright subsidies) than the production is spending in that particular location. So if you did build a studio space somewhere (a soundstage, perhaps some post-production edit and sound facilities, perhaps in-house catering), your business would be at the mercy of the amount of production that came to your town and/or if you could generate enough projects of your own to pay for the expenditure and upkeep. Too many people in tax "incentive" states have built stages believing incorrectly that a stage space would be some kind of magic magnet that would draw "Hollywood" to their world permanently. Sure, a quiet place to build sets and shoot is attractive, but it turns out to be fairly low on the list of priorities.
IATSE Local 600, SOC
||Posted - 09 Dec 2011 : 17:10:38
In recent years or in history?
And I'm with Vasic - what do you mean by "studio"? You seem to
be talking about several things in your question. You mention
independent films being "notorious" for being made without a
"studio". A "studio" doesn't mean sound stages; what that means
is a movie is made independently of the studio system. Many
independent films are shoot on sound stages.
Here in Los Angeles there are dozens of independent stages (sound
proofing, office, security, kitchen, bathrooms, EVERYTHING) and I
know there are many in several cities. These are usually existing
buildings and not started from an empty lot. One of the most famous
is Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York. They have sound proofing,
office, security, kitchen, bathrooms, EVERYTHING and are completely
independent, but not built up from an empty lot. Screen Gems is a
built from ground up independent studio - is that what you mean?
So are you asking about one sound stage or an entire studio of stages
and offices and back lot like Paramount or Universal?
The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress.
Joseph Joubert, essayist (1754-1824)
||Posted - 09 Dec 2011 : 15:15:16
When you say 'studio', you seem to mean the sound stage. The word 'studio' (in the context of discussion about movie studios) much more frequently means the actual film production company, rather than a physical building, on a lot owned by a movie production company, used as a sound stage for film and TV productions.
I'm not in the industry so I don't know if any independent director ever bothered to invest money into buying land (or a building) and constructing a large sound stage for film productions. There are so many commercially available spaces for rent, it would be financially very questionable investment to do this. If the primary purpose is to have a sound stage available for your own films, that would be a colossal waste of money, since the principal photography (about the only time one would use a sound stage) represents a fairly short amount of time, compared to what it takes to complete a film, from writing the script to completing the post. In other words, if you spend 12 months to produce one single movie, actual shooting will probably take a few weeks out of that one year. And out of those few weeks, much of it will likely be shot on location, and not on your sound stage. So, you'll have build this expensive space only so that you can use it for a week or two per year.
Amateur filmmakers for whom film making is a hobby (making fan movies or fan TV series, etc) actually do this in their basements/backyards/garages/sheds. There are many who invest large amounts of their own money into building elaborate sound stages, sets, lighting gear, etc. For them, this is fun, and there is no expectation that the investment will ever generate revenue. For (aspiring) professional independent filmmakers, this just makes no sense.