FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — TGE Global Entertainment, Inc. has plans to build a 92,000-square-foot facility with 45,000-square-feet of film and television studio space in Chaffee Crossing, Fort Smith, Arkansas.
The Los Angeles-based entertainment company announced in November it has a film about legendary Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves under development as an authentic western with intentions to film most of it in the Fort Smith area.
The plans call for the facility to be named TGE Spark Studios, said TGE Chief Financial Officer J. Michael Smith.
“It’s our homage to a famous banker who built the New Theatre in downtown Fort Smith,” Smith said. “We want to follow in the footsteps of this giant who once also believed in Fort Smith as an entertainment hub for the region.”
The $30 million dollar project will primarily consist of new construction on approximately 20 acres bordered by Wintergreen Ave. and Mahogany Ave. in the southeastern area of Chaffee Crossing. The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) has worked closely with TGE Inc. and architects in identifying potential multi-use trails from the studio location to the living, shopping, entertainment and dining areas in Chaffee Crossing.
Daniel Mann, Chief Executive Officer of FCRA, sees the project as fuel for further development on property adjacent to the studio and all across Chaffee Crossing.
“A film studio is a wonderful trigger to develop a creative ecosystem in our region. The name Spark Studio encapsulates the energy and even greater momentum we anticipate following this announcement,” said Mann.
Smith also noted the proposed facility at Chaffee Crossing would be the only one of its kind in a 550-mile radius, the closest being in New Orleans, and could create an estimated $32 million annual economic impact on the Fort Smith community.
“The numbers are purposefully conservative as we are awaiting final projections, but that’s the preliminary estimate we’ve been operating from,” Smith said. “The economic purpose for a studio like Spark Studios is not just to house our projects, but projects from other production companies with a desire to film in Arkansas. And obviously, we believe there are plenty of reasons to film in the Arkansas and Oklahoma region.”
“Through top-tier, insider entertainment industry relationships built over several decades, our TGE executive team intends to bring major Hollywood studio productions to film in this region,” TGE Global Entertainment, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Jackson stated. “Arkansas made great progress last year with its film incentive program, but there’s still a little work to be done to compete on a national scale. It’s a work in progress.”
The filmmaking studio is expected to create 100 to 150 direct jobs, according to TGE Inc.
Production crews that are involved with filmmaking have as much impact on tourism as they do on job creation. When films come into a community to bring productions, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) estimates the production will spend an average of $250,000 a day, paying 53% higher wages than the national average, They buy all kinds of materials to build sets and hiring people to procure and assemble the materials. They hire makeup artists. They hire hairdressers. They hire stylists, construction workers, electricians – to the tune of over 100 people a day – and use local caterers to feed the entire crew.TGE Chief Financial Officer J. Michael Smith
Feature-length productions often have 200 to 250 people on set, many of them requiring local housing or long-term hotel rooms.
Conceptual designs for the studio facility were led by Nate Deason and Galen Hunter of MAHG Architecture, a Fort Smith firm, incorporating natural elements with a modern feel. Six sound stages account for about 45,000-square-feet of the project, with the tallest having a ceiling height of 45 feet.
Additional features of the facility would include office spaces for film production teams, a screening room to review footage, editing suites and space for a “back lot” to have controlled outdoor filming.
A cafeteria for on-site productions will be supplied by local catering companies. An amphitheater and event space are also part of the conceptual plans to provide an additional option for public gatherings in the Fort Smith area.
While most of the facility will be new construction, plans also call for restoration of four former Fort Chaffee officer’s quarters off Liberty Street to add 8,000-square-feet of film production offices on Mahogany Avenue, northwest from the production studio.