Mississippi’s place on the movie-making map just got substantially bigger with an announcement that one of the nation’s largest independent lighting and grip rentals companies will set up shop at Canton’s Mississippi Film Studios.
The expansion of Hollywood Rentals into Mississippi ensures that feature film makers, television producers and others in the visual arts industry will have a single source for the array of equipment their productions require, said company President Kelly Koskella, in a press statement Tuesday.
The company will also bring its Expendable Supply Store, a hardware store of sorts for thousands of expendable items used in film, TV and video production, to Mississippi Film Studios.
“It’s going to be a real game changer for Mississippi film making,” said Rick Moore, whose companies Mad Genius Inc. and Eyevox Entertainment LLC recently acquired Mississippi Film Studios, a facility originally built for the 1996 movie A Time To Kill.
“Up to now we have the biggest inventory of grips and electric lighting, but it is not enough,” Moore said.
With Hollywood Rentals, he added, “All of our lighting needs are going to be right there at the film studio, and we will be able to help production in other areas as well….We are talking about a lot of movies coming to town.”
Hollywood Rentals’ announcement follows the mid October announcement by New Orleans-based Hollywood Trucks that it would establish a Mississippi presence at the 43,000-square-foot Mississippi Film Studios, home to a sound studio and production offices on a six-acre campus.
In a synergy of sorts, Hollywood Trucks can transport the production equipment, lighting and grip products, power generators and production vehicles Hollywood Rentals provides.
The privately owned company runs a 400-unit fleet of more than 40 types of trucks, trailers and specialty production equipment. Last year it introduced its Ecoluxe line of high-end advanced talent trailers that the company says quickly became in demand by A-list stars filming in Louisiana.
The entire fleet, including the new Ecoluxe trailers, will be available at Mississippi Film Studios.
“They provide dressing rooms, grip trucks, everything… They are a wonderful company when it comes to providing rolling stock,” Moore said.
Andre Champagne, CEO of the 7-year-old Hollywood Trucks, said the “tremendous growth” of the film industry in Mississippi and the rest of the Southern region led him to expand to Canton.
Mississippi is Hollywood Trucks’ second expansion this year. It expanded into Georgia in May in a partnership with Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
Moore said the new partnerships are significant steps toward his goal of making Mississippi the go-to-place for film production. “When I took over Mississippi Film Studios one of my major goals was to help Mississippi with its film production infrastructure. My goal is to bring in industry leaders,” he said.
The feature film Same Kind of Difference as Me has been in production at the Cantons studios since September. Another feature film, Battlecreek, is also in production in Metro Jackson.
The VisitMissisippi Division of Tourism of which the Film Office is part reports that so far in 2014, direct spending by productions filming in Mississippi is from $70 million to $80 million An estimated 30 percent goes into pay checks for Mississippians, the Division of Tourism says.
The film industry will account for $21 million to $24 million in wages to Mississippi workers, it adds.
Wade Emling, Film Office director, said that while the arrival of companies such as Hollywood Rentals may create only a few dozen direct jobs, “the number of jobs it will support, as we continue to grow the film industry because of this important confluence of infrastructure and services, will be in the thousands.”
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