Producer looks to lure film/TV to Nashville stages

A Nashville producer has launched film and TV production companies and opened Tennessee’s first soundstages, with a goal of making Music City a film industry center.

Wayne Mooneyhand, chairman and CEO of Mooneyhand Films Inc., says his project is the realization of a 10-year effort to convince others that “Nashville is the perfect place for a strong film industry in the South.”

“We’re not here to compete with Hollywood,” Mooneyhand said. “We need Hollywood. We’re competing for the business that’s already left there.”

The company has converted space for up to four soundstages, depending on placement of a movable soundwall. Mooneyhand says his studio will be fully contained, including actor suites, production offices and post-production facilities. Mooneyhand says the company already has plans to expand by building more soundstages and a backlot at another Nashville location.

The venture’s corporate structure includes television and film production companies in addition to the studio, and the film division has announced a slate of four co-production projects.

“Hothouse,” written by Sandy Martin, based on Megan Terry’s play, will be produced by Martin, Moctesuma Esparza and Robert Katz. Esparza and Katz are the team behind Turner Pictures’ “Gettysburg” and the TNT movie “The Cisco Kid,” which is currently lensing. Three other Mooneyhand pix in development are “False Cover,””He’s My Brother” and “Pretty Boy Floyd.”

Mooneyhand is also negotiating for several more co-productions, including two films in development at producer Peter Kroonenberg’s Kingsborough Pictures.

Mooneyhand’s business and legal adviser is Laurens Schwartz, a N.Y.-based attorney involved in film and TV packaging, licensing, merchandising and future technology.

Schwartz’s mother, computer art pioneer Lilian Schwartz, will be involved in creating the Mooneyhand venture’s planned computer center, with facilities for animation, effects, scanning, digital editing and HDTV.

L.A. film veterans involved with Mooneyhand say the idea of diversifying Nashville’s entertainment industry is a natural. Most cite the city’s existing base of music and television production and its low production costs.

“For me, Nashville is reminiscent of what I imagine old Hollywood might have been like,” says Avian Rogers, the L.A.-based co-executive producer of “Hothouse.””This will be a highly regarded film center.”

The Nashville Mayor’s Office of Economic Development has met with Mooneyhand and his team, and office director Lady Jackson says the soundstages and new Nashville film commission should help position the city for film.

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