To any American, Plymouth Rock inspires visions of pilgrims from England, benevolent Native Americans, and the influential meal that we all celebrate annually. Soon, in 2010 to be precise, it will also conjure images of sound stages, movie stars and a state of the art production studio.
Since its purchase of the Plymouth Waverly Oaks Golf Club in July 2008 to the town planning board’s unanimous approval just last month, Plymouth Rock Studios has been making steady strides to its predicted opening next year. Upon completion, the 240-acre site will feature 14 sound stages, a 10-acre back lot, production offices, post-production facilities, a theatre, professional offices and an “amenity village.” It will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified studio in the world as well as the first independent, full-service production facility on the East Coast. Plymouth Rock Studios is located less than an hour’s drive away from two international airports and about ten minutes from the Plymouth municipal airport, which is capable of supporting corporate jets.
According to the Plymouth Rock Studios website, the site will be designed in the “studio as a city” concept, meaning that it will combine the business aspect of the industry with the at-home life of the amenity village, allowing the studio to act as a sort of self-sufficient “campus” for employees. The amenity village would provide domestic services such as dry cleaning and laundry services, a post office, convenience store as well as restaurants and other amenities.
With its home-meets-business concept and city-like proportions, the studio would need around 2000 employees to staff the site as well as provide 1500 construction jobs for the actual production of the edifices, making Plymouth Rock appealing to both Plymouth residents and film personnel, especially in the (still) declining economy. According to USA Today, both Executive Director of the Massachusetts Film Office Nicholas Paleologos and Director of Visitor Services at Pilgrim Hall Museum Ann Young support the construction of the Plymouth Rock Studios, stating that it will help Plymouth’s economy by increasing tourism yet not detract from the historical roots and ambiance of the city itself. Despite the hope it provides for the financial future, it has met some opposition. Anne Marie Flanagan and Laurien Enos, two of the three dissenters in the 116-member town meeting vote, argue that project developers have not answered significant questions of financial funding and how the town will support the drastic changes in the infrastructure.
Though the monetary details of the project are still unspecified, many big name companies have pledged their allegiance to the growing production studios. According to USA Today, Joseph DiLorenzo, chief financial officer for the Plymouth Rock Studios and former CFO of the Boston Celtics, HBO, Warner, Paramount and Fox have conveyed interest in using the production company once it has been constructed. When questioned about funding the project, DiLorenzo stated that while the project has no definite sponsors, the film industry has survived previous recessions. Despite its lack of immediate sponsorship, Plymouth Rock offers producers innovative services in everything related to production and, with amenity village, beyond. Though its planning and construction have met some opposition, one thing is for certain: Plymouth Rock Studios is creating new grounds for Massachusetts as well as for the entire film industry. By the end of 2010 (or possibly 2011), Plymouth Rock will be famous for two very different things.