Triple Horse to build major studio complex, invest $100 million, in Covington

COVINGTON - Triple Horse Studios announced Thursday it will build a Hollywood-style film studio in Covington, ultimately investing $100 million, with the goal of solidifying Covington's position as the "Hollywood of the South."

The studio is planned for 160-plus acres owned by the Newton County Industrial Development Authority at Ga. Hwy. 142 and City Pond Road.

The project will be developed in phases, with the first phase entailing a $38 million investment.

Once completely built out, features will include: five sound stages, including two 18,000 square foot sound stages with a divider that could be removed to create a larger stage, and one a 45,000 square foot soundstage; a water tank with sky backdrop, similar to the set used for "The Truman Show;" - the first of its kind on the eastern seaboard, according to a Triple Horse representative; a green screen soundstage; a three-story building for makeup and wardrobe and dressing rooms; space for set construction, welding; parking for trailers; backlots and space to build customized sets; post-production buildings and a viewing room; a bungalow village which will serve as office space for executives; space for special effects and prop storage; and an administrative building.

The studio would be different from anything currently offered in Georgia and even throughout the country, as it would provide a setting and structure similar to what exists in Hollywood, said Triple Horse COO Dale Weller.

The entire filmmaking experience could happen right there, along with post-production, which typically accounts for one-third or more of a film budget, said Triple Horse CEO Karl Horstmann. Georgia offers tax breaks on post-production if a majority of a film has been shot in the state.

During construction there will be approximately 300 employees on site, Weller said

When the studio opens there will be between 50-75 full time people hired, he said

"If the studios open with a project (film or TV series) already scheduled the number of employees would scale accordingly," Weller said via email on Friday. "We believe with an aggressive marketing effort we will be able to attract projects when the studio opens. Several film producers have already told us they would have shot their projects in Covington/Newton County this year if we were open."

"During a single production the studio would employee hundreds of skilled workers and with five stages we could easily accommodate three productions at the same time. So to say we could have over 1,000 people working at the studio is not a stretch," he added.

Weller said Albuquerque Studios COO Wayne Rauschenberger stated they employ 3,000 direct employees and another 3,000 indirect employees. That studio is approximately the same size as the one Triple Horse is proposing.

The project will be privately funded by "a small group of high net wealth investors," according to Horstmann. The timeline on the project will depend on when those partnerships are sealed, but he said that filming could begin a year after ground breaks.

Filmmakers are currently using "warehouse" studios outside of Hollywood that don't provide such amenities, due to tax incentives offered in those locations, Horstmann and Weller said.

Films are increasingly being made outside of Hollywood, Weller reported.

California has lost more than 10,000 entertainment industry jobs and 25,000 related jobs in recent years, he said. Movies shot in California have decreased from 272 in 2000 to 160 in 2008, but the number of productions is increasing. Productions are instead heading to states that offer tax incentives. Twenty-one of the 23 new television dramas on the four major networks this year are shooting outside of California.

"Whoever has the right kind of studio is where they're going to end up," he said.

About half a dozen filmmakers, including those involved in major projects starring Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger, have been pitched the project and said they would be interested in using the studio, according to the Triple Horse team.

Film budgets typically range from $15 million to $200 million; and as much as 50 percent of that remains in the state where filming takes place, Weller said. A production spends an average of $200,000 a day in the local area when filming, he said.

A studio in Pittsburgh, which Triple Horse representatives said is not on the level of the one planned for Covington, has generated $300 million in that area since 2009. Local businesses also benefit from the film industry: "The Avengers" filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, resulting in 3,200 nights in hotel stays there, Weller said. And as for tourism, just take a look at Dubuque County, Iowa where "Field of Dreams" was filmed. More than 20 years later, 54,000 tourists still visit each year, generating $5.4 million in revenues, he said.

The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce has been "driving" and structuring the project, according to President Hunter Hall.

"It is our hope and our goal for it to truly transform the future of Newton County," creating an "enormous" amount of jobs and sales tax, Hall said.

He added that 22 percent of the county's workforce hold manufacturing jobs and this will provide diversification of the tax base giving the economy greater stability.

Triple Horse, located off Bob Williams Parkway in Covington, provides a variety of services to filmmakers and writers. Through a number of subsidiaries, the company offers a production company, a design agency, filming, post-production services, equipment rental and set design and construction.


henrystamm 2 years, 7 months ago

The only negative to this is that the socialist Marxist liberal will invade our state and take over and convert our free state to the likes as California, NY and others up north. I'd rather have them stay there.


Del 2 years, 7 months ago

What I see as clear as light......These liberals are leaving California (HIGH TAXES) and coming elsewhere for (TAX BREAKS) but continue to support the liberal agenda and the current administration


covington300 2 years, 7 months ago

wow...nothing like stereotyping... On a serious note, I think it is great that you all vetted those involved with this new ecnomic development in our area and not only know the reasons they are coming but their political ideology and the individual on whom they wrote their college thesis. Who says facist Hitler conservatives group people together in order to oversimplify things for their supporters low cognitive ability. It is ultimately unfortunate that in the 21st century we still have to categorize everyone and everything instead of celebrating something which will benefit all of us in Newton County regardless of the type of flag, hybrid, or sandals our new neighbors may own.....


averagejoe1 2 years, 7 months ago

Per the last two comments, I suppose it's possible to be negative about everything. You're proof.


56vick 2 years, 7 months ago

Boy you can tell henrystramm was not educated in a public school ! He not only is an authority on the school systems ,now he has developed words like socialist, marxist and liberal. Why would someone with this level of intelligence spend all his time making comments in the paper . Come on henry start saving the world and not just Newton County .I think Del may be on your level of intelligence also .Thanks for the entertainment boys !


John 2 years, 7 months ago

I think this is a good deal for Newton County times change and if you don't change you'll miss a good ride. I know a young man that lives right here in Newton County comes from a great home, avid outdoors man (hunts, fishes, camps out), he is very industrious, helped his Dad with his deer processing and turkey call making & marketing businesses and he even did a Tom Sawyer style con on our son, taught him how to dress out a deer for fun and no pay but a great learning lesson for someone who never had done it before. He like all young people was a bit active at EHS that meant he along with three other students (one our son) that Ag teacher would not allow them to take another semester of Ag because of their past activities. This young man is about 26 now has started his career in film making and took classes in film making at Georgia Perimeter and no doubt he had other classmates that are interested in the same field.
These students are the future of Newton County and with this expansion we can keep young men like Tommy and women too right here as they pursue their career dreams. I got to know him after we moved here in 1996 & he was about knee high to a short grass hopper and I will just call him a creative type. Now he is about 6' tall, very focused and engaged - will make someone(s) a great son-in-law and no doubt his parents are proud. It is fun to watch young people mature.


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