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Shooting Gallery Unveils Plan to Build New York Area Production Studio; Space Would Include Largest

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire January 7, 1998 at 2:0AM

Studio; Space Would Include Largest Soundstage in North America
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Studio; Space Would Include Largest Soundstage in North America

by Eugene Hernandez




New York City-based production company The Shooting Gallery (TSG) unveiled
ambitious plans yesterday for a major production studio, set to be located
in Harrison, New Jersey. TSG Chief Executive Officer Larry Meistrich told
indieWIRE yesterday afternoon that the project will be funded with between
$75 - $100 million that will be raised privately by Stone Pine Capital, a
Denver-based financial services group. The former industrial park, now site
of the as yet unnamed studio, is a 30-acre space across the Passaic River
from Newark, NJ, six miles of Midtown Manhattan, Meistrich told
indieWIRE. Among the features of the studio will be what Meistrich says
will be the "largest soundstage in North America (almost 100,000 square
feet)." Plans for the development include 10 - 15 soundstages, a backlot,
production office space, and even a theme restaurant and areas to welcome
tourists.


Jeffrey Leach of Stone Pine told indieWIRE late yesterday that he has
secured "preliminary" interest from a handful of individuals, but he
quickly cautioned that current discussions are in the very early stages. As
Leach admitted, the key challenge to raising such a major level of capital
for the project's development over the next 12 - 24 months will be
"convincing investors that a small independent film company can compete
with a company like Warner Bros., on a backlot basis." Leach added that
another crucial issue is guaranteeing the support of the local government
with regard to declaring the site a re-development zone for tax incentives


An industrial town that formerly housed General Motors, RCA and Otis
Elevators
, Harrison, N.J. appears to be open to the development. Project
representatives acknowledged that the studio plan fits Harrison Mayor
Raymond McDonough's plan to redevelop the town's former industrial areas;
the mayor recently designated the entire 250-acre industrial area a
redevelopment zone. In a statement yesterday, Mayor McDonough said, "The
Shooting Gallery is a formidable partner in this venture...we are confident
that the studio project will return New Jersey to the filmmaking map."


The announcement comes months after rumors surfaced locally that The
Shooting Gallery was looking for studio space in Manhattan. While Meistrich
admits that he surveyed sites throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, including
pier space, he eventually went to New Jersey because he "struck out" in the
city. While Meistrich plans to keep TSG headquartered in Manhattan, the New
Jersey development will obviously offer his company's production services
subsidiary, Gun-For-Hire, the opportunity to broaden its range.


Leach told indieWIRE yesterday that the group plans to meet with town
attorneys next week and Meistrich stated proudly that his architects are
"furiously working away." Meistrich and Leach seem undaunted by the
prospects of raising up to $100,000 for the development, despite the
inherent challenges. When asked what initially got him involved with such
an ambitious venture from an investment point of view, Leach quickly
responded, "Larry said it was do-able."