Waiting List Grows for Mill Street Studios
JACKSON, Miss., October 27, 2022 (Newswire.com) - As the waiting list continues to grow with sign-ups from film producers and distributors, the long-awaited dream of Monte and Charlotte Reeves comes closer to fruition.
Yes, the twelve solid steel structures of industrial-riveted construction have been abandoned for decades. Weeds grow in the cracks of the crumbling sidewalks and, yes, most of the remaining machinery are rusted hulks.
Hard to believe this massive cotton seed oil mill once employed hundreds of workers less than a mile from Mississippi's State Capitol. Like Memphis, TN and Tulsa, OK, downtown Jackson was once a thriving, upwardly mobile epicenter of Black entrepreneurship and industry at the turn of the 20th century.
But all that is long gone. Or is it?
Not by a long shot.
Today, Mill Street Studios (MSS) is the future home of a new, state-of-the-art motion picture and media production facility. The 5.5-acre MSS campus has been repurposed by Dallas-based architect Arnold Hernandez, converting the massive silos and grain storage shelters into two 17,000 sf sound stages and two 6,000 sf studios. In addition, over forty office suites, a commissary, café, expendable and equipment rental stores, screening rooms and set fabrication mills are projected for construction in early 2023. An on-site boutique hotel is also being discussed with several hotel chains.
Less than 2 miles from the MSS campus is the Mill Street Movie Ranch on 20 acres of raw land in a federally designated Opportunity Zone. "When the stars and studio executives fly into town on their private jets, they'll be landing at Hawkins Field, a city-owned cargo and private jet airport less than 3 miles away," according to Monte Reeves, co-chair of Mill Street Studios LLC.
His co-chair and wife. Charlotte Reeves, said, "The response from real estate developers and Wall Street to our RFPs has been gratifying. They seem to recognize this venture as the vanguard for a dramatic urban renaissance."
MSS is being developed as environmentally friendly. Its 216 average annual days of sunshine guarantee solar power as an energy source, supplemented by the electric grid. It's located on an elevated plain which provides a natural barrier to flooding; and it's above an underground aquifer well to provide pure, sweet water to recycle for the many fountains and waterfalls planned for the property.
The studio expects to hire a full-time staff of over 250, providing job growth and an economic boost for the state capital and surrounding region.
The MSS waiting list was launched Oct. 1, 2022. First to sign up was Oscar-winning producer Gerald Molen (Schindler's List, Jurassic Park and dozens more features). Molen is currently preparing the southern romantic thriller Sweet By and By for Los Angeles-based Movicorp Media. "Movicorp CEO Robert Schnitzer brought this new studio to my attention, and it may be perfect timing for our miniseries," said Molen.
Indeed, Schnitzer is on the board of Mill Street Studios LLC and is no stranger to Mississippi. "I directed The Premonition, my second feature, in Jackson and fell in love with the place." The award-winning film, currently available on Amazon Prime, Tubi and other streaming platforms, showcases many of the Magnolia State's unique locations.
In addition to producer Molen, the waiting list includes sign-ups by former CBS marketing exec Paul Friedman, currently planning the miniseries The Unexpected Danny Green, and CPA William Crim, former board member of Ridgeland, MS-based accounting firm GranthamPoole. Mr. Crim will provide on-site production accounting services and help producers qualify for Mississippi's rebate incentive programs.
Those signing up on the waiting list will be the first to receive the MSS Rate Card when published next year. "We don't know the exact fees at this point, but they will be far less than those in Los Angeles and New York. In fact, Mississippi's cost of living is the lowest in the nation, its hospitality is legendary. And there's virtually no traffic jams on our highways," added Ms. Reeves.
According to Nina Parikh, director of the Mississippi Film Office, "The addition of a production facility with multiple stages in central Mississippi would increase our ability to draw larger productions which have often located in surrounding states with established studios. Our cash rebate has been an exceptional recruitment tool, but infrastructure to support the industry is essential for continued growth. Mill Street Studios has the potential to meet this critical demand."
The Reeves expect to open the studio gates for business in Q4 of 2023. Visit MillStreetStudios.com.
Source: Mill Street Studios