Atlanta film studio begins Stone Mountain expansion

Atlanta-based movie studio West End Production Park held a meet and greet on May 18 at its newest location on Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain.

The new location—dubbed Memorial Drive Studios—is a conversion project at a property owned by MK Industries and currently located in the space once occupied by International Sports Arena and Shoppes on Memorial.

“We’re in the process of determining if this will be a good fit for the industry, and we’re introducing the property to the industry with this event,” said MK Industries owner Ali Katoot. “We’re hoping that once the writer strike is done, we’ll get back to business and have a flood of content that needs to be filmed.”

West End Production Park Director of Operations Crystal Carroll and Katoot said current plans are to gauge the industry’s reaction to a sound studio on Memorial Drive and then build out the location based on feedback. Katoot added that plans are to only have medium-budget soundstages at the location, but he said there is enough room to build more soundstages or other parts of a studio if needed.

Carroll said the building conversion process is in its early stages and the building can be reverted to its original use—such as a basketball arena—if the soundstage project isn’t successful. However, she said the project has local support and that the other soundstages and studios owned by MK Industries have been booked for years by Netflix and other industry leaders.

“Our studio in Atlanta is 300,000 square feet and has been very successful,” said Carroll. “We have Sony Productions and Netflix leasing that building for the next three years while they’re filming Cobra Kai, and our phones are still ringing off the hook. So, we were thinking we should go ahead and convert [Memorial Drive Studios].”

At the May 18 meet and greet, event organizers also invited several local businesses as vendors to show film industry employees what the area can offer. Local companies such as Hall’s Garden Center brought flowers, US K9 Group showed off its exotic reptiles and other animals, Enterprise displayed part of its exotic car collection, Georgia Gifts and More had local goods, while Everybody Eats Atlanta, Halal Pizza, and Alcohol Heroes catered the event.

Several local vendors who also work with the film industry attended the event. Photos by Jay Phillips

Katoot added that the hospitality industry in the area can also help support an incoming soundstage, even one that might bring upwards of 500 employees a day to the area.

“Hopefully once we start getting movies in here for four or five months, the community will see that it brings in a lot of professional people,” said Katoot. “There will probably be 600 to 700 people here and most will be people who buy coffee and lunch.”

The location of the soundstages last made headlines when International Sports Arena was forced by property owners to shut its doors. The gym, which was run by Stone Mountain High School boys’ basketball head coach Vincent Rosser, was the only privately owned NCAA certified gym in DeKalb.

Carroll said she met with players and leaders from the gym after it closed and also works with local schools in other matters. She added that she is invested in the Stone Mountain property because she is a DeKalb County native, resident, and a graduate of Redan High School who shopped at the mall and played basketball in the arena that the prospective soundstage is taking over.

“We have a lot of programs we want to put in place, very similar to the programs we have in place in Atlanta,” said Carroll. “We partner with the schools, local organizations, Georgia State, Stone Mountain High, and others. There’s are a lot of opportunity for this to be a great asset to the community. Instead of the community feeling like we’re taking something away, we want them to see that we’re giving something back.”

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One thought on “Atlanta film studio begins Stone Mountain expansion

  • July 25, 2023 at 6:27 pm
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    Looking forward to see you at Stone Mountain!!! We need more initiatives like this one!!!! Wish you all the best. I do live in the area and for sure there its a great potential!!!

    If there is anything I can help feel free to let me know!!!

    Reply

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