Austin Studios prepares for expansion


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Posted on February 6, 2014 at 11:27 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 7 at 7:44 AM

AUSTIN -- It's a sure sign that the film and TV industry in Austin and Central Texas is booming.
Austin Studios is ready to expand, and it's hoping to lure entertainment companies to a new site.

On a cold afternoon, builders are constructing a set on the Austin Studios lot. Now, that property is poised to become an even larger film and TV production hub.

The Austin Film Society, which runs the studio, plans to rent out the National Guard Armory that sits on the east side of the property.

“The old National Guard Armory is 75,000 square feet," said Rebecca Campbell, the Film Society's Executive Director. “Some of that is hangers, but 65,000 square feet is offices.”

Campbell says future plans involve helping small local productions to expand and bring in what she calls anchor tenants. Each one would occupy about 10,000 square feet of the armory. It will turn into a creative media hub for those working on big screen projects, and others as well.

“Let's face it, people are telling stories over the internet now. There's a lot of interactive media, so we want to accommodate the whole spectrum,” Campbell said.

The City gave AFS the armory property in exchange for property on the studio's west side. In November of 2012, Austin voters approved $5.4 million to help rehab the site. The new tenants will also kick in money to renovate the space.

“Austin Studios is a huge asset and contributes to the amount of filming that gets done in Austin,” said Gary Bond, director of film marketing for the Austin Film Commission.

He said he doesn't think there will be a problem finding companies to move in to the armory, especially with so many successful movies being shot in Austin and Central Texas. Transformers 4 and Bernie, directed by Richard Linklater, were shot there, not to mention countless TV and internet projects.

“It's tough enough to even count the number of productions that come here,” Bond said. “In the film business, nothing succeeds like success.”

Film industry experts say a strong state incentive program is helping to lure more projects to Austin and Texas.

AFS has posted a request for qualifications packet on its website for possible tenants. The new Creative Media Hub is set to open in 2016.