CAMDEN, Maine — This town put a “free” sign on 3.5 acres of waterfront land in September, hoping to woo a creative industry to move in and create 24 well-paying jobs. Tuesday night Camden landed a deal with a startup movie studio.
The Select Board voted unanimously to approve a purchase and sale agreement with B. D’Turman’D (as in “be determined”) Entertainment. The deal now will be voted on by residents at a special town meeting on April 6. Voters either will seal or undo the deal.
The company plans to build two 18,000-square-foot warehouselike sound stages where it will film movies, according to Bill Ferrell, who represented B. D’Turman’D Entertainment at Tuesday’s meeting. Among the movies Ferrell said will be filmed in Camden are “Coyote Justice,” a murder mystery; “Silent Justice,” a cop comedy and others that are of the “same genre as Harry Potter and Twilight.”
The company has planned $270 million in movies for the next three years in Camden, according to Ferrell’s Tuesday night presentation to the Select Board.
The studios will be on the Megunticook River; the site once housed Apollo Tannery, which allowed tanning solvents to run into some of the land’s soil.
The town took ownership of the old tannery in 2003 after the previous owner didn’t pay his 2001 taxes. The town still owes $683,000 on an $836,000 bond it issued to raze buildings and remove chemicals from the site.
To get the site back on the tax rolls while invigorating the local economy, Camden will charge the film company $1 upfront. If the company creates 24 jobs that pay $40,000 or higher salaries, that $1 is all the company ever will pay. If it fails to create the jobs within five years, the company will owe Camden $175,000 for the land.
Ferrell told the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday that he intends to secure all 24 jobs within five years. He said his company needs numerous staffers – for hair and makeup, wardrobe, special effects, lighting, sound, film editing, catering, among others – to make his business run. Oh, and actors.
“Anyone in here want to be in the movies?” Ferrell asked at the meeting. “Guess what: We are going to need actors and atmosphere and some speaking parts as well.”
Ferrell said this would be the only sound stage built in New England for Hollywood-like productions.
“Bringing our business into this region will create, hopefully, substantial growth for the other businesses here in town,” he said, stating that other movie production businesses likely will follow his company to Maine.
Ferrell, who intends to move to the Camden area, is from Los Angeles where he said he has acted in about 15 films and 30 TV shows in the last 15 years.
A biography for William Hayes Ferrell on The Internet Movie Database, lists him as having appeared in episodes of such TV shows as “The Young and the Restless,” “Friends,” “Home Improvement,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “The West Wing.” He also appeared in such films as “Dead by Dawn.”
On Wednesday, Ferrell said, “I turned my creative side to writing.” So he and two of his colleagues decided to start their own company producing films, he said.
Ferrell said the studio will have a diverse mix of genres and budgets to help diversify the business.
Brian Hodges, Camden’s economic development director, said the new company will be a good fit.
“Camden is known for its diversity and its cultural heritage rich in the arts background. This fits into the town’s strategic vision,” Hodges said. “It goes back to the idea of supporting what is already in place in Camden. Camden’s vision is also to promote opportunity to a younger population by supporting career opportunities.”
The business will construct its warehouses in a region that includes other creative entities such as the Camden International Film Festival, PopTech, Maine Media Workshops film school, Midcoast Magnet and the Juice Conference.