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KAY Studios, Rhode Island: New England's Smallest State has Big Potential

Rhode Island’s burgeoning as a media production outlet has flourished in part because of a strong Film & TV office, a sizable tax credit, and local production facilities such as KAY Studios.

By K. Correia

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The green screen at KAY Studios' Stage 5

When it comes to film, larger New England states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut get the glory and the attention, but Rhode Island is not going unnoticed. With substantial productions taking place in the state each year, Rhode Island is on its way to becoming the gem of New England.

Past productions in the state include films such as 27 Dresses, Dan in Real Life, Evening, and television series such as Body of Proof and Brotherhood. This year, Rhode Island is in limelight thanks in part to Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. The film, which was shot entirely in Rhode Island, features headline actors Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand. The film was selected to open the legendary Cannes Film Festival in May 2012 and is currently a Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture.

The Rhode Island Film and TV Office, led by Executive Director and former filmmaker Steven Feinberg, has lobbied endlessly to bring Hollywood productions, such as Moonrise Kingdom, into the state. He has been aided greatly by the installation of the Motion Picture Production Tax credit in 2005. Rhode Island was the first state in New England to adopt such a credit, with Massachusetts and Connecticut following. Much of the productions that come to the state are attracted by this 25% tax credit allowed on approved productions, where the majority of shooting is done and a minimum of $300,000 is spent in Rhode Island.

The Office’s slogan, “Smallest State. Greatest Backlot.” captures the essence of Rhode Island, a state small in size but big on the diversity of its landscape. The office maintains a list of possible filming locations in order to help filmmakers not only visualize their production, but see the state as a viable locale for shooting. From Providence to Kingstown and Cranston to Newport, the state has no shortage of Manor houses, Military forts, Universities, Hospitals, meadows and farms, harbors and oceans vistas that can serve a production as any setting and time period.

However, in addition to location shoots, productions also depend on the accessibility of equipment and studio facilities. Among the largest studio listed by the Rhode Island Film and TV Office is KAY Studios, which has locations in East Providence and New Kingstown.

KAY Studios was founded in 2006 by Marcus Thomas and Greg Gormley. Thomas, a prop maker on such films as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Batman, and television series such as The Pretender and The X-Files, was looking for an opportunity to take the work he loved and bring it to his home state. With the help of his longtime friend and Rhode Island native and businessman, Greg Gormley, the concept of creating a full service production studio in Rhode Island was born. The studio is named for Thomas’ mother Kay Thomas, an “adventurous and inspirational individual,” according to the studio founders. It is the studio’s mission to facilitate productions in the state by securing the resources producers need in a cost-effective manner and providing support services throughout the course of production.

The facilities provided by KAY Studios include two sound stages. Stage 5, located in East Providence, boasts a 6,700 square foot space and a two-wall cyclorama good for special effect filming. The space also includes a workshop for set design and construction as well as administrative offices. Stage 6 is located in North Kingstown. It includes a 30,000 square foot stage area and a 20,000 square foot mill shop. In addition to the Rhode Island locations, KAY studios also maintains a location in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Among the services offered by KAY Studios are consultation on the Rhode Island tax credit, casting assistance through their partnership with LDI casting, set construction, Foley sound production, film scoring, and editing. The studio is also able to offer catering and security services thanks to their association with local area businesses.

KAY Studios is not merely a location for film and commercial productions, but also for musical events. Those same Sound Stages are also available for rent as a rehearsal space or for hosting live events such as a music concert or film premiere. In conjunction with this, KAY Studios offers marketing packages and merchandise creation for such events based on the specific client’s budget. KAY Studios prides itself on the versatility of its space and scope of vision, truly in keeping with the adventurous and inspirational qualities of its namesake.

The inspiration offered by KAY Studios is one that is shared by the state of Rhode Island. The locations and diversity the state offers, seek to inspire the filmmaker’s vision. It is a production friendly locale for film and television productions. With facilities such as KAY Studios offering guidance and production services, it is a state well-endowed with experience and appeal, making the production industry in Rhode Island a stable and prospering one.

For more information on KAY Studios, visit their website.