Austin Film Society Announces Opening of New Creative Media Center
Former National Guard armory will provide sound stage, office space
By Richard Whittaker,
12:10PM, Tue. Nov. 19, 2019
It's a big day for independent film and television in Austin as the Austin Film Society has announced the completion of the new Creative Media Center at Austin Studios. The facility, which includes the new Stage 7, will provide an extra 38,500 square feet of flexible space for every step of the development and production process.
AFS opened Austin Studios in 2000, when the city leased sections of the former Mueller Airport to the society. However, part of the long-term plan involved a land swap: The back lot at Austin Studios would be handed over to the expanding Mueller development, and in exchange AFS would take over the neighboring Texas National Guard Armory. That handover took place in 2012, and the society started using it almost immediately (including leasing the old helicopter hangar to Rooster Teeth as a sound stage for the shooting of sci fi comedy feature Lazer Team and hosting the Texas Film Awards). However, the long term plan was a full conversion into a site more suited to production.
The new space is designed to provide a mix of short and long-term leases for all levels of Austin’s film community and ancillary support businesses. It’s an important strategic addition to the existing Austin Studios: Even with the existing six sound stages and the instantly recognizable Red Building, between long term tenants like Rooster Teeth, rehearsal and recording studio Soundcheck, and equipment rental firm MPS Austin there’s been more demand for space than the studio management could provide. The plan is that the new centre will provide exactly the kind of facility – especially for development and preproduction – that is in such short supply locally.
Austin Film Society Founder and Artistic Director Richard Linklater said, “The City of Austin has proven itself a visionary partner to the film industry. They entrusted Austin Film Society to create this facility 20 years ago, helped us transform airplane hangars into soundstages in 2006, and worked with us to create a building that will provide essential space for independent filmmakers and small businesses.”
The new LEED-certified structure was converted from the shell of the old Texas National Guard armory from a design by international architecture firm Gensler (also responsible for the new offices of The Washington Post and the Shanghai Tower), built by Swinerton, and project-managed by Broaddus & Associates, with Catherine Sckerl of Espero Planning and Design representing AFS. Stage 7 is currently open for tenants, and the Center itself will officially be opened on Dec. 16.
The facility, which will be accessible off Tilley Street, will also be home to “Split Diopter,” a new large-scale sculpture by Dallas-based artist Eric Eley commissioned by the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places program. The piece, comprised o square ceramic blocks on a steel structure, and lit from within by LED lights, is designed to evoke the communal nature of the centre. “ Eley said, “I want the sculpture to speak to the collaborative nature of film production where many parts, people, and processes come together to create a cohesive whole.”
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Austin Studios, Austin Film Society, Austin Filmmakers, Soundcheck Austin, Rooster Teeth, MPS Austin, Eric Eley, Espero Planning and Design, Gensler, Broaddus and Associates, Swinerton, Art in Public Places