With its studios open, RSCVA now looks for local suppliers

The script is written, the scene set and now local businesses are eager to play their part in northern Nevada’s film industry.

The Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority last week opened the doors on Reno Tahoe Studios, a production facility inside the Reno Sparks Convention Center consisting of 20 offices and three sound stages totaling 180,000 square feet, suitable for producing everything from feature films to reality TV shows.

The studio was made possible not only by the under-used convention space, but by new legislation encouraging commercial productions to come to the Silver State. The RSCVA was instrumental in drafting and getting passed Senate Bill 165, a law that provides tax incentives to production companies to come here, including inducements to hire and buy locally.

That’s the script and location. Next, the RSCVA says it will be preparing local vendors how to take a role working with movie makers.

“Everyone gets excited about film, but the industry has unique needs,” says Christopher Baum, RSCVA president and chief executive officer. “It will be helpful to invite the business community and talk about what you need to do to show you understand what they need.”

To that end, Baum says the RSCVA will host two workshops next month: one for resorts and hotels and another for other businesses, from dry cleaners to lumber yards. Baum says the meetings will feature a panel of film folk to talk about their requirements and answer questions. The workshops will also serve to let RSCVA know what businesses are eager to take part so the studio can recommend them to its clients.

A variety of area vendors, especially some conveniently located near the studio and which already work with the convention center, are happy to see the studio and hope, like the RSCVA and the state’s economic developers, it brings in new business.

“We want to expose the talent to our award-winning resort and casino, dining in on our steak house, our world-class spa,” says Chrisie Yabu, corporate executive director of marketing for Monarch Casino & Resort Inc., owner of the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, across Kietzke Lane from the convention center. She attended the studio launch with Atlantis’ director of sales, Toni Koster. “Our line of communication with the RSCVA is very open. Hopefully, we’re going to be on the short list for a lot of these companies coming through.”

Whole Foods, a mile south of the convention center on South Virginia Street, says its corporate outlook aligns with artist-driven businesses like the movie industry.

“We actually have a team member who is an actor and may be working on a film, so it’s very exciting,” says Janet Kurvers, manager of the high-end grocer’s store in Reno. “We have a very strong catering department in prepared foods. We do a lot of catering of conventions at convention center. We even deliver there so we would love to be more connected to that. I think any venue that attracts business to the community for Whole Foods and all of the retail establishments, food and otherwise, I’m happy about. It’s great news for the state.”

Equally pleased may be local film producers who see both an opportunity to work with and for the studio.

J.B. Benna, who runs a production company called JourneyFilm and is soon opening a 7,000-square-foot studio in Reno, says he imagines productions could use local crews such as his team. And he may occasionally need the additional square footage at Reno Tahoe Studios for his own work.

“It could be a useful asset,” says Benna. “If they need skilled people and equipment or we need a larger space. I see it as a good thing for local film producers.”


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