Officials in Tennessee moved a step closer to making what developers say will be a major Black-owned film studio a reality.
Developers won approval from the Memphis Land Use Control Board to zone land in the city’s Whitehaven community to build a BLP Film Studios. The owners say they hope to attract investors that will help bridge diversity and inclusion gaps in film and television.
“Our goal is to make Memphis the international epicenter for producing films and projects led by Black and brown creators on the production and directing side of those projects.” Speaking with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Jason A. Farmer, BLP’s founder, who is developing the site with his son Jason Farmer II, said Black and brown consumers are becoming more savvy. “We did quite a few years of research to look at this market shift that’s occurring and to determine what some of these driving forces are. We asked, ‘What is the best package we can put on the table that will reposition Memphis? That will allow Memphis to develop our own unique niche in the market?’ “
BLP’s owners plan a campus with 12 soundstages, editing suites, an executive building, event spaces, and a hotel among other things, the Commercial Appeal said. The Farmers did not disclose the specific price tag for the project but the newspaper noted the cost would be in the millions of dollars. They said that their funding partners would be announced later.
Groundbreaking will begin in the fall, Farmer said, and the facility will be completed over the next 24 to 30 months. Some sound stages are expected to be ready in as little as a year.
Farmer, a native Memphian, said the project would be beneficial for the city, bringing jobs and opportunities for residents. Some projects have been filmed there, but not yet to the extent that he envisions.
As many as 80 new film and television projects could be in production at the studios when it becomes operational, he says.
“We’ve had a number of opportunities to move the project outside of Memphis, but we felt this would be the kind of project that would help elevate the Memphis community,” Farmer told local station WMC. ”When a film production comes into town, about 60 percent of that money is spent on a local economy. So, if a $5 million project comes here, $3 million will be spent locally for things like hotel, travel, tourism, and catering.”