Savannah College Plans Largest Us College Movie Studio

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Savannah College of Art and Design says it plans a expansion of its film and digital media studio that will make it the largest college movie studio in the country.

SCAD says its Savannah Film Studios will include at 10.9-acre backlot, a new digital stage and three new soundstages. The first stage of the expansion will open this fall with the backlot completed by 2023. The project will also include a building for set design and costume design and classroom space.

Local news outlets report that SCAD also plans a second digital stage to open in Atlanta in 2022.

The Savannah expansion could make the coastal area more attractive for movie, television and video game productions.

“One of the weaknesses we have here is lack of infrastructure. And so, anything that comes along that gives more of those resources and more things that these productions can utilize, that’s a huge benefit and a huge help in rebuilding the industry here in Savannah post-COVID,” said Charles Bowen, Founder of Savannah Film Alliance.

The school's primary aim, though, is to produce more people who can take part in filmed entertainment.

“That’s going to be a huge draw, I think, and it gives not only Savannah the opportunity to bring in more of these films and television programs, and but it also gives our students an opportunity to work alongside them, because they will be so trained in this very new technology," Andra Reeve-Rabb, dean of entertainment arts at SCAD, told the Savannah Morning News.

Paula Wallace, SCAD president and founder, compared the project to “the great backlots of movie history.”

Some backlot scenes will mirror Savannah’s architectural style, allowing productions to take place there instead of clog up streets in historic districts, while others will mirror New York and a suburban home.

The digital stage, called an XR stage, will allow an unlimited choice of settings.

“It’s very unique to have a university adopt this,” said Nick Rivero, one of the founders of the college's partner MEPTIK. “Nobody else is doing this. Nobody else is building a pipeline, and a technology at this scale.”

XR, or extended reality, uses computer, to project a set backdrop from anything they can imagine, allowing actors to perform in front of the actual backdrop, instead of in front of a green screen with a backdrop added later. The stage will also use a computer program that renders animation or backdrops for video games