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NE Studios tour

At the Saturday, October 11, 2014 meeting...
SMPTE New England Section visits NE Studios
Fort Devens, Massachusetts

On Saturday, October 11th, some 50 members of the SMPTE New England Section including several student chapter members from nearby Fitchburg State University gathered at this New England Studios for a tour of a truly ground-breaking Hollywood-style film studio that opened its doors earlier this year.

Gary Crossen

Our hosts were Jack Sullivan and Gary Crossen, both members of the management team that intends to make Massachusetts a serious destination for making motion pictures. The state has been encouraging the filmmaking industry with generous incentives and this no doubt has helped pave the way for such an ambitious financial undertaking.

Jack Sullivan describes details of construction..

The 40-million dollar 15-acre facility located just 45 minutes west of Boston resides in Devens, Massachusetts, a sylvan setting that was once was entirely occupied by the U.S. Army. The army base, in fact, still occupies some of the nearby land.

It's cavernous and NC17 QUIET

High ceilings

"Once in great while you can hear gunfire from the still active firing range," says the studios' Jack Sullivan. But that's only on the outside. Inside the four 18,000 square foot whisper-quiet NC17 rated soundstages, you can hear a pin drop. The speech intelligibility within--even at some distance-- is almost unnerving.

Looking through four 18K Sq. Ft Studios

Jack Sullivan operates 60-ton door

The four identical stages, with nail-down floors underfoot and 60' high ceilings with wooden catwalks way above, each look with their heavily soundproofed walls like they could serve as a padded cell for a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Between each studio there is a 42' wide, 60-ton elephant door that when slowly rolled open allows access from one studio to the next. An indoor football game could easily be played here!

A long climb

The group had the opportunity to climb the wooden staircase that hugs the walls to reach the catwalks above. There's no elevator. You've got to be in reasonable shape. The climb is well worth the effort. The view from this aerie vantage provides a different scope of the sheer capacity of the space. From here film crews will hang various instruments essential to their craft.

Not your average attic

Up in the rafters

Jack Sullivan describes wood construction

Curry College students on the tour

Curry College's Jerry Gibbs (L), SMA's Jan Haughey (R)

From the rafters...

The facility offers much more than the studio space alone. There are fully equipped dressing and make-up rooms, office space for each soundstage and of course twenty-first century communications capabilities that include a massive fiber backbone.

Rows and rows of equipment

Mike Stay in the rental department amid dollies

Arri's everywhere

Arri light and generator

Mike Stay shows large Kino flo

There are two mill buildings with the ability to build and store sets and scenery, a rental facility brimming with the latest in lighting and grip equipment and generator trucks that can take to the road. A large backlot area is available where outdoor sets can be built ranging from urban streets to foreign battlefields.

Great place for a screen test

The facility has already hosted a modest (by Hollywood standards ) five million dollar production, 'Tumbledown,' a romantic comedy directed by Sean Mewshaw, that served as a successful 'shakedown cruise' for the facility. NE Studios' Gary Crossen says that an ideal situation for the fledgling studio would be a national television series that would likely occupy two soundstages long term while the other two would remain available to host motion pictures.

Future plans-artist's rendering

There are already detailed plans in place to expand the studio if 'stage one' proves a hit. Take your own virtual tour of NE studios at http://w

Marty Feldman


SMPTE New England Section

Click here for writeups of other past meetings

Posted: 20 October 2014
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor