April 18, 2013

Group Seeks Investment For Worcester Film Studio

A Worcester-based group that wants to open a film studio in the city has its eye on a vacant warehouse that once housed a passenger railcar manufacturing facility.

The group, called Pullman Project LLC, has enlisted the services of Anton Nel, the developer looking to transform Westborough State Hospital into a studio, shops, restaurants and other amenities.

The group is targeting a vacant 125,000-square-foot warehouse at 30 Pullman St., the former site of a production facility owned by the Pullman Company.

Pullman Project filed incorporation papers on April 9. The sole principal in the corporation is Worcester resident Barbara Guertin, an actor, producer and corporate recruiter for Fallon Community Health Plan.

Guertin, who had a part in the David O. Russell movie that's been filming in Worcester this month (she gets a kiss from Jeremy Renner in a scene shot in Nick's Bar and Restaurant on Millbury Street), has acted in a number of films shot in the area over the years. Her IMDB profile is here.

She said today that her desire to open a film studio in the area first started started when she was an associate producer and actress on a movie called 'BoyBand' that was filmed in Worcester in 2008.

She has since learned that producers like shooting in the Worcester area. It's cheaper than Boston and has a plethora of architectural backgrounds. She thinks the demand exists.

Guertin's group also includes Nel, Hanover Theatre founder Ed Madaus, producer Kristen Lucas of Worcester-based Goldilocks Productions, architect Dan Benoit and Brian Crane, a photography director who would manage the studio.

Guertin said Crane, who is currently working on a variety of television shows in Hollywood, would move to Worcester if the studio becomes a reality. Crane has talked to several show producers who said they would patronize the studio if it gets built, she said.

A big reason for that is the state's tax credit program, which subsidized film productions to the tune of $44.1 million in 2011.

Guertin said talk of capping the program "sent shivers down Hollywood's spine."

(Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net)

Westborough Hospital Still On The Table

Nel said today that the Pullman studio group is seeking $3 million in seed funding to get up and running, and would likely need another $5 million to achieve its full plans.

He said he isn't giving up on his hopes to transform the Westborough State Hospital into a studio and other amenities, but he expects the process of the state transferring ownership to the town to take around two years.

"I don't want to lose that momentum," Nel said. "It's like sitting on your hands for two years and not doing anything."

A Worcester studio would be an asset to the envisioned Westborough studio, he said, because it would provide additional support and services.

The push for the studio project comes as New England Studios in Devens prepares to open for business later this summer.

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