The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta is planning to expand its media production facility in a bid to make it the largest film studio at any university in the country.
Set to begin in the fall semester, the expansion project will include installing a Hollywood-style film backlot, a new digital stage, and three new indoor soundstages.
The initiative will also include construction of a new building for set and costume design and other production-related activities.
“One of the weaknesses we have here is lack of infrastructure,” Savannah Film Alliance Founder Charles Bowen said.
“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,” he added.
The backlot SCAD plans to construct will feature a variety of stages including the “Savannah Street Scene” stage that will allow production teams to enjoy the beauty of the city without the need to go out onto the streets.
Additional locations included in the new backlot are New York City streets and a residential home.
“That’s going to be impactful. One of the ideas behind that was we have so much filming happening in Savannah and in Atlanta. To be able to mirror that here on a lot is going to take some of that pressure off of the downtown Historic District,” SCAD Dean of Entertainment Arts Andra Reeve-Rabb told Savannah Morning News.
“We’ll have our own Historic District right here on our backlot so it gives students the ability to continue to shoot without a pressure on the downtown area, so we’re really excited about that,” she added.
Aside from aiming to have the largest and most comprehensive college movie studio in the country, the school is also hoping to produce more filmmakers through the expansion.
“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, but it also gives our students an opportunity to work alongside them, because they will be so trained in this very new technology,” Reeve-Rabb explained.