Builder expands north to Canuck soundstages

Project to cost $25 million

The soundstage building boom continues in Canada: Los Angeles-based studio builder Bastien and Associates will soon begin construction on the $25 million Brentwood Film Studio in Vancouver.

The facility will feature six soundstages, four in the 18,000-square-foot range and two others at 16,500 square feet each. Production offices will be included.

Architect Gary Bastien told Daily Variety the state-of-the-art stages will be the first legitimate 18,000-square-foot soundstages in Canada built from the ground up; existing facilities are converted warehouses.

Entire project is expected to be completed by July 2001 in time for the television production season. Construction begins in August and will benefit from Canada’s lower construction and labor costs.

Bastien built Raleigh Studios’ $80 million Manhattan Beach Studios, now home to David E. Kelley’s “The Practice” and “Ally McBeal.” He also designed the $105 million Los Angeles Center Studios.

Once completed, facility should help fill the need for soundstages in the region, which has experienced a boom in U.S.-based productions looking for better tax incentives and currency valuations.

Nearly 40 television projects were looking for a home in Canada last season.

“The project is seen by experts as a critical move to increase the region’s competitive edge in the world film production marketplace,” said Mario Battista, general manager of Brentwood. “By offering better facilities and support services, Vancouver stands to attract an even greater market share of productions.”

Battista is an actor and producer who has dabbled in developing soundstages in Canada before. He was looking for a major studio to back the project, but instead is getting much of the construction’s funding from an undisclosed investor in China.

Bastien is also developing a $540 million soundstage complex in Spain and studios in Malaysia and Singapore.

“Instead of looking at the numbers and saying, ‘Hollywood’s piece of the pie is getting smaller,’ you have to look at the broader picture and realize that the pie is just getting bigger,” Bastien said.

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