Mass Studios: A Promising Cog in Wheel of Worcester Economic Development

Mass Studios invitational tour with Carol Patton & Kristen Lucas
Publisher Carol Patton with Mass Studios Marketing Director Kristen Lucas at an invitational tour new studios in Worcester, MA slated to open later this spring. Photo by Dee Wells.

In Massachusetts the missing piece in the infrastructure puzzle has been large studio space and stages – a place to build sets and stay awhile. Everyone knows that’s what a TV series needs like oxygen and the absence of this infrastructure is what the Commonwealth has held accountable for the absence of TV series locating here. The last major scripted TV series was Robert Parker’s Spencer for Hire for Warner Bros. Television starring Robert Urich in the ‘80s.

The Mass Studios concept has been spearheaded by Barbara Guertin who moved to Worcester sixteen years ago as a result of falling in love while working on a production at the Foothills Theatre. She married, stayed and fell in love with her new home, but didn’t lose her industry contacts.

After producing a film in Worcester in the late ‘90s she was cognizant that large studio spaces were nonexistent. That experience prompted her to begin looking for just that.

Guertin found and seized upon the opportunity to sign a long-term agreement to lease the former home of the Pullman Co., which had manufactured the still famous Pullman Sleeping Cars and at the height of the industrial revolution trolleys and buses in Worcester.

Now she and her team are rehabilitating the old Pullman Plant into studio space for film companies shooting movies in Massachusetts. She believes, “This project will have a major impact on Worcester.”

Barbara Guertin has surrounded herself with versatile leadership for Mass Studios. Anton Nel serves as CEO, Brian Crane DOP, General Manager and LA Film Industry Consultant, Ed Madaus, Government and Community Relations, Kristen Lucas, Marketing Director, Dan Benoit AIA, Architectural Consultant, Dee Wells, Videographer/Photographer, Timothy Loew, Gaming Consultant and Molly Oliver as Production Associate.

As work crews bring 30 Pullman Street up to code, Barbara and her team invited a group of industry leaders for a tour and the prospects of her “Pullman Project” now properly known as Mass Studios. Clearly what you see is what you get in their first phase. The doors will be opening this spring to productions and events “au naturale.” No frills, in “as in” condition up to code, of course.

What you will get is 44,000 SF of space with a 65’ceiling, 45’ with lighting grid and a 100’ span. Two hundred parking spaces, with additional unlimited parking adjacent or easily accessible. An additional 80,000 SF of ancillary space for food trucks and trailers inside the Main Building, which is monstrously huge (think Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose Hanger where AVATAR was filmed). Two-story production space adjacent to the main sound stage. 20,000 SF sound proof soundstage in #10 and an additional 119,000 SF of space for Mill production, design and construction.

Mass Studios has acquired $1 million of lighting and grip equipment. The facility offers a commissary area that can hold up to 300 actors and crew. There are lobby and ticketing areas. Hair, makeup and wardrobe trailers can be attached at the bays.

Mass Studios CEO Anton Nel, Founder Barbara Guertin, Ed Madaus, Government and Community Relations and Kristen Lucas, Marketing Director assembled on a freezing February day in Worcester, MA for a studio tour given to industry leaders from Boston and Worcester. Photo by Dee Wells.
Mass Studios CEO Anton Nel, Founder Barbara Guertin, Ed Madaus, Government and Community Relations and Kristen Lucas, Marketing Director assembled on a freezing February day in Worcester, MA for a studio tour given to industry leaders from Boston and Worcester. Photo by Dee Wells.

And onsite services include casting, location scouting assistance, catering, trailers, HVAC and more. It isn’t state-of-the-art built from the ground up, but everything a production needs is portable, attachable or can be moved in. The best example of successful use of this style of studio property is the Spruce Goose Hanger in LA. I visited the set of AVATAR and was suitably impressed. It’s a different approach, but each production can have and get exactly what they want.

The facility tour was also attended by members of the Worcester community, noticeably excited about the prospects of this building being renovated were the management staff at Worcester’s DCU Center, which hosts major sports, entertainment, convention and conference events. But even they aren’t always big enough to host some requests and they were eyeing this rehabilitated property as a possible extension of what they have to offer their clients.

Mass Studios expects to embark on Phase II to be completed in late 2014. In the second phase, they will raise the roof, literally, another 15’ making their sound stage the second largest in the nation. And they plan to add another 90,000 SF of space for editing suites, conference rooms, a 5,000 SF restaurant serving three mills a day and nightlife! A full service conference and meeting center including business services, a motion capture studio – the largest and most technologically advanced studio on the east coast and four fully outfitted sound proof stages,10,000 to 20,000 SF each.

The Mass Studios team is currently forging alliances with educational institutions for internships and outreach programs and sees the studio as a center for learning for local colleges and high schools as well as foreign students wishing to learn the American secret to content creation. Yes, this interest has already been expressed.

Mass Studios is exercising a different approach to studio and set production than what most are accustomed to, but they exhibit an avid degree of confidence quoting the need for viable space, the Massachusetts’ lucrative and solid Film Tax Credit Program, the City of Worcester as a backdrop along with all the amenities it has to offer including a major airport, train service, inviting hotels and restaurants close at hand and the growing community of production related cast and crew members in the central region of the state.

The entire project is expected to cost $8 million. When completed, the Mass Studio complex will be only the second studio facility in Massachusetts, outside of Boston. For more information visit

Carol Patton is the founder and publisher of IMAGINE Magazine. She introduced film tax credits to the region in early 2000s, writing the definitive piece in October of 2004. By the end of 2005 film tax credit legislation passed in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut in that order.

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Red Sky Studios Opens in Allston

Clockwise from Top Left: Frans Weterrings and Dave Cambria launch Red Sky Studios in Allston, Massachusetts. Photo by Carolyn Ross. / Comfortable newly redecorated working space at Red Sky Studios. Photo courtesy of Red Sky Studio. / Space to hang out at Red Sky Studios in Allston, MA. Photo courtesy of Red Sky Studio.

By Carol Patton

When a recent occupant of 184 Everett Street left its Harvard University owned set of buildings in Allston, MA, an unusual and rather extraordinary opportunity opened up for someone who would make the decision and who could ultimately be accepted by the landlord. Several individuals and companies considered the prospect, some local and some from far away. But, Harvard believed her best interest would be served by finding just the right local entity that had both local and national ties to the film industry and struck a deal with two young men who have worked in the industry in New England since 1997.

New life was once again breathed into the well known studio complex and Red Sky Studios was born. New paint, new furniture, new ideas all began to take shape and business in this venerable place began to thrive again. Like their preceding owners at this location, both new owners believe the location is a premium asset.

The pair who six months ago were busy operating Red Herring Motion Picture Lighting and working regularly on motion pictures like BASIC MATH, THE EQUALIZER and AMERICAN HUSTLE as gaffer and rigging specialist had no idea they would become owner operators of a studio complex today. To Frans Weterrings and Dave Cambria this opportunity came as a total and complete life changing surprise.

Frans and Dave incorporated Red Herring in a small loft in the South End of Boston, with an ARRI Kit and some Kino Flos’ in 1997. Now Red Herring has a 12,000 square foot warehouse in North Attleboro, with several 48’ tractor-trailers, generators and enough equipment to service several feature films. They’ve provided equipment to most of the large projects that have shot in Boston and serve local and national clients like Element Productions, Redtree, Sony Pictures, Columbia Studios, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount Studios, NBC Television, ABC Television, Disney Pictures and Fox Searchlight Productions.

Both Dave Cambria and Frans Weterrings have considerable experience in the industry. With their combined New York City and Los Angeles working history and relationships, many Boston bound productions contact them before their arrival for guidance, equipment and crew. Both consider Red Sky an excellent opportunity to create a hometown atmosphere run by local folks who really know the business and want to help you with yours.

Tiffany Kinder, a Los Angeles experienced transplant (she married Frans Wetterings) will serve as General Manager and plans to fashion the operation and interior after the west coast trappings studios and major producers have become accustomed to. When you walk in you can see and feel the Red Sky presence. The changes they have already made are visible and impressive.

She believes the studio’s commissary is an important center for social and commercial activities. A functional kitchen for food styling and preparation is a must, which is why this kitchen has a working oven. One day Red Sky will have a model full functioning kitchen designed to attract TV food shows and demonstrations.

Everything Tiffany does is geared toward what every account executive, photographer and director wants including competitive pricing.

Red Sky is fully functional and already has hosted productions, commercials and photo shoots in their short tenure and they have an appreciative eye for the exploding webseries bonanza and its studio requirements for the future. An entertainment component is next on their agenda – parties, special events and fashion shows, for example.

Red Sky’s two studios are complemented on the premise by production offices, high tech communications, equipment rental, conference rooms, production services, commissary and customized rooms for makeup, hair and wardrobe. Park your trailers in their enormous parking lots and a production could live there for months. So the Red Sky stage is set with two New Englanders through and through at the helm.

Both have and intend to maintain their Massachusetts roots. Frans began his working career right here at 184 Everett Street. It was his first job and he was working for the biggest equipment rental house in New England that also operated the adjacent studios. Frans says he is, “truly grateful and excited for this opportunity to expand Red Herring Motion Picture Lighting, Inc. I consider myself a family man in both my personal and business life. I reside in Medfield, Massachusetts. I have a terrific local crew, a wife (who owns two Boston based companies), a four and a half year old son, three dogs and two horses.”

David entered the film production community in1992. After an internship at CF Video in Watertown managed by his Boston College Professor Paul Reynolds, he was hired to run the production camera and equipment rental department and started the day after graduation. Never looking back, David decided to go out on his own and started freelancing as a lighting technician in 1995. He enjoys cycling and running, and has completed five Pan Mass Challenges, raising over $100,000 for the Jimmy Fund on two Pan Mass cycling teams. David resides in Barrington, Rhode Island with his wife, Rachelle, and children Andrew (six), and Ellie (four).

Both owners are accomplished, hard charging and energetic with a great deal of optimism, enough to share. Both enjoy the continuing challenges and experiences as a full fledged self-started business owner now in their second enterprise, which they believe is full of promise in our burgeoning content producing marketplace.

Carol Patton is the founder and publisher of IMAGINE Magazine and an advocate for the film tax credits and industry growth.

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