The newest addition to Walnut Grove’s industrial district won’t be making roof trusses or steel pipe – it will be producing film and TV.
The eight-stage, three-studio complex of Martini Film Studios is officially opening this week, and will be ready to host its first productions by May 1, said Gemma Martini.
An actress, director, and producer, Martini’s family owned and operated Starline Windows out of the complex in the 19700 block of 96th Avenue for years.
When they moved the window manufacturing to Campbell Heights, they had a number of offers for the old factory buildings – including offers of purchase.
But then the idea of turning the facility into a full-service film studio came up.
“It was the most interesting thing that came across the table,” said Martini, who will be heading up the new venture.
Work was still frantically underway at the site this week. It’s been less than a year since the Martinis teamed up with local lighting and film industry supply firm, MBS Equipment, to build the new studios.
In total there will be three studios, one in each of the three buildings, with a total of eight separate, soundproofed stages spread across them, Martini said.
The facility will include 150,000 square feet of filming space and another 100,000 square feet of office and support space.
To make the change from window factory to dream factory, the buildings had to be stripped to the walls, extensively rewired, soundproofed, insulated, and air conditioned. The attached offices were also completley renovated, Martini said.
So far as she’s aware, it’s the largest complete film studio complex this far east into the Lower Mainland. Other facilities are based in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Burnaby.
That doesn’t mean Langley has no studio space. Port Kells and Gloucester Industrial Park have already played host to several productions, in renovated warehouses.
But this one will be large enough to run three TV series, concurrently, said Martini.
It’s also within the zone where the regional film tax credits kick in. The province gives a slightly larger tax break to productions that film farther from Vancouver, in a bid to spread the industry around the province. In the last budget, the province announced that as of Jan. 25, 2017, the boundary will move from 200th Street to 196th Street – the actual border between the Langleys and Surrey.
“At the end of the day, I think it makes it attractive [to production companies],” said Martini.
The first studio building is set to open May 1, followed by the second and third on June 1.
At that point, they expect to see some TV or film productions start making use of the new space.
“There’s a lot of demand,” said Martini.
It remains to be seen which companies and TV shows may want to locate in Langley.
“Everything happens very last minute with these productions,” Martini said.
Val Gafka, Langley Township’s senior manager of corporate administration, was pleased to see the studio set to open.
It helps diversify the local film sector, rather than have the bulk of it based in brief film shoots on location.
“We’re actually seeing the investment in production facilities out here, which is wonderful,” Gafka said.