Watching the credits for Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” One Night, Athens-based real estate developer Joel Harber noticed that the film was shot on location in Hawaii and on film sets in Atlanta. Eager to put his hometown on the Georgian film production map, Harber began his own quest to make it a reality.
Cut to Tuesday, when Athena Studios unveiled a $ 60 million, 45-acre soundstage development at 900 Athena Drive, which will include more than 350,000 square feet of space for film and television production featuring multiple soundstages, support buildings, production offices and a state-of-the-art educational institution.
Athena Studios is a partnership between Athens-based commercial real estate brokerage and development firm Reynolds Capital and local developer Tim Burgess. Harber, a UGA graduate and chairman of Reynolds, will be the CEO of the studio, which is expected to be operating at full capacity in two years.
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A sound stage at Athena will be used by the University of Georgia and the Georgia Film Academy to train the next generation of film industry professionals. MFA film and television production students will grow from their current 2,000 square foot campus space to 14,000 square feet at Athena Studios.
Harber told the Banner-Herald that the studio’s primary goal is to remain in constant production by employing IATSE union members on TV shows from companies such as Netflix and Warner Brothers, and will also be open to working with productions. independent.
“There is a wealth of creative talent in Athens in all facets of what you need to make films and television,” said Harber. “I hope some of this gravitates towards us.”