14-soundstage film studio planned
A startup company wants to build a major film and television production facility in Northwest Miami-Dade County.
Miami Ocean Studios Enterprises LLC plans a full-service complex that’s to include 10 sound stages, four water-tank stages, production offices, post-production resources and a hotel.
While movie and TV companies increasingly want to shoot in Miami-Dade County – Burn Notice was shot here and so was the true story-based movie Pain & Gain – the shortage of facilities might be stopping more production businesses from coming here.
But there are signs locals are reacting and working to provide the infrastructure production companies need.
For one, a film complex is already being built in the Omni area. The City of Miami’s Omni Community Redevelopment Agency has already signed a contract with a New York City-based company, EUE/Screen Gems Studios, to build the facility.
“There’s plenty of noise in Hollywood. People want to see shows and movies in Miami. But filming in Miami is” difficult, said Rodolfo Paiz, an investor in the project and chairman of the board of Miami Ocean Studios Enterprises. “A show like Burn Notice, they come here and they need to completely remodel a warehouse. They spend a ton of money and after they are done filming, all of that investment gets wasted because that warehouse gets remodeled into something else.… It’s not that business is leaving. It’s that we could be bringing a lot more business.”
Miami Ocean Studios, as the facility is to be called, is to include four water tank studios, one indoor and three outdoor. One of these studios is to include a channel-like water body with a green screen wall running along the length of the water body.
“You can record the boat and then replace the background so you could be in South Vietnam or the Nile River or in a swamp in Tennessee,” Mr. Paiz said.
The water tank studios would also be deep enough to allow for underwater shooting.
“You have to have the depth so you can get the colors rights,” he added.
If plans pan out, Miami Ocean Studios is to rise on about 135 acres of county-owned land and it’s to total about 900,000 square feet overall – much more than the about 71,000-square-foot Omni film complex.
Miami Ocean Studios Enterprises says the capital cost for its facility will be $265.5 million. Over half of that, the company says, has already been secured from foreign investors participating in the EB-5 Visa program. The EB-5 Visa is a path foreign nationals can take to obtaining a green card by investing a certain amount into the US and creating a number of jobs.
The startup’s executives behind the idea for the facility have also put in their own investments.
“We’ve got probably 80% of the total funding needs already in hand,” Mr. Paiz said.
Miami Ocean Studios Enterprises is comprised of South Florida-based individuals who have experience building and managing TV and film studios as well as experience in the production side of the business, Mr. Paiz said. So far, however, the company executives’ names won’t be released, he added.
The construction cost includes $28 million for needed infrastructure, including road, water and sewerage, electric and parking improvements. Miami Ocean Studios Enterprises has requested that about 36% of that infrastructure cost, $10 million, be funded by a voter-approved, taxpayer-supported bond program, known as Building Better Communities. Today (12/11), a county commission committee is to consider the company’s bond debt funding request. Under Miami-Dade County rules, applicants for this kind of funding only receive the money once their project is completed and it creates a previously agreed upon number of jobs.
Miami Ocean Studios Enterprises wants to lease land for its facility from Miami-Dade County at 20000 NW 47th Ave. Local governments sometimes lease publicly owned land for as low as $1 in annual rent to developments deemed economically beneficial.
“What the county does is to incentivize this kind of activity to provide use of the land at a very low cost for something that has economic development benefits,” Mr. Paiz said. “It’s a lot cheaper for the county to provide land rather than spend money on economic development itself.”