Matinees at Springfield's old Mars Theater were once the closest many imagined Effingham County would get to Hollywood. Now an international company has plans to build studios in the county's industrial park adjacent to Interstate 16.
On Tuesday, Medient Studios entered an agreement with Effingham County's Industrial Development Authority for a $90 million project on 1,500 acres. Effingham County agreed to provide $1.25 million for site development. Medient CEO Manu Kumaran told IDA members the company would start with 400 employees, but eventually expand to 1,200. He described the project as America's largest movie studio. It would include sound stages, post-production suites, housing for visiting talent as well as some permanent employees. They would also break for what Hollywood has become in recent decades.
"We're extremely old school," Kumaran said. "Most studios today have facilities they rent out to other vendors (production companies). We take the vendors out of the equation. We'll do things the way the film business did in the 20's through the 50's.
He said Medient would employ writers, directors, designers and more to work full time on an estimated eight motion pictures per year.
County leaders are excited to bring so the number of jobs usually associated with a new factory without the environmental concerns. Medient stated they would employ solar and hydro power sources to be as sustainable as possible.
"Plenty of people worried the site along Interstate 16 would become a smokestack plant," stated IDA chair Dennis Webb. "To have something this environmentally friendly is welcomed."
Medient also said they intend to hire local employees as much as possible, from set construction to some creative positions.
"We're going to unroll something where almost anyone can work with our content development team," Kumaran said.