In October, 2017, Seattle Grip & Lighting closed its doors after nearly 30 years of service and support to the Pacific Northwest film and video industry. SGL’s departure eliminated two major motion picture production studios (5,000+ sf and 2,000+ sf) from the local landscape, as well as a robust grip & lighting rental resource.
Other area businesses, some which have existed for years, provide excellent studio facilities. However the loss of SGL is significant for a region that already struggles to provide sufficient capacity for an ambitious film production industry. It is too early to know whether the remaining studio spaces will be sufficient to accommodate the demand during peak production periods.
At BigHouse, we are curious about what is available for our various potential production needs. And as long as we are researching the topic, we decided to share our findings here. Our goal is to keep this post updated and current as facilities and conditions change. Readers of this post can help by contributing thoughtful, constructive comments about your experiences.
Today, the greater Seattle area is home to a number of studios that are available for motion picture production. Here is a partial list.
Pacific Grip and Lighting
Located in South Seattle near Boeing Field, PGL has provided grip, lighting and studio services in Seattle for many years. The South Seattle facility offers a single 4,400 sf stage, with a powered 19-1/2 foot grid and three-wall cyc. As their name indicates, PGL will also provide all the grip and lighting needs for your shoot. In addition to the production studio, an adjacent prep area provides space for cameras, construction and staging.
Fremont Studios is home to Seattle’s largest sound stages. Studio A, at 10,000 SF measures 100’ x 100’ and features a permanent elevated performance stage. The powered lighting grid is 20’ high, with a rigging grid at 24’. Hard cove cyc walls extend 150 linear feet along two walls and one corner. Studio A includes major built-in infrastructure enhancements, including stage and film lighting, HD projectors and up to five cameras with live switching and projection capabilities.
Studio B is 5500 SF, and features a 40’ x 18’ paintable green screen wall with hard cove.
They also offer fiber-optic connections for video streaming and other uses. Silent HVAC and sound-baffling methods are in place to enhance audio recording quality.
The Fremont Studios facility includes a full kitchen, green rooms, VIP lounge, dressing rooms, showers and conference room. Extensive grip and lighting equipment and packages are available. Management will approve third-party grip & lighting equipment and trucks for film-style projects on a case-by-case basis.
The Fremont Studios facility is used extensively as an event venue, so availability for production projects can be limited. But as owner Scott Jonas says, “We are a production facility that does events.” Not the other way around. The events tend to occur on weekends, leaving midweek days open for production business. Even though the event venue is booked solid for the next 2+ years, Jensen’s roots are in film and TV production. So the studios are production-friendly and well-equipped.
Microsoft Production Studios
Microsoft’s Redmond campus is home to extensive video production and post facilities, including two sound stages. While they are used predominantly for Microsoft’s internal projects, the studios are also available to public, non-MS clients. Although even their management admits “our Microsoft work makes it challenging to find openings.”
Studio A is permanently set and lit with three distinct areas for interviews, talking head shoots and demos. This stage is 48’ x 36’ and also features a 3 x 3 monitor wall.
Studio B is a 60’ x 40’ open stage with three-walled hard cyc, and 20’ powered, dimmer-controlled lighting grid. A full complement of brand new LED lighting equipment has recently been added to the Microsoft Production Studios amenities package.
There is no public website available for Microsoft Production Studios. For more information or scheduling details, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The main stage at Victory Studios is about 2500 sf. It includes a two-wall paintable hard cyc measuring up to 95 linear feet. The non-powered grid is 14’ high. Production amenities include video switcher, kitchen, dressing rooms and vehicle drive-in access. A smaller insert studio is also available with 18’ cove wall, green screen and pre-hung lights.
Victory also offers production rentals including grip equipment (and truck), lighting and cameras.
Zoo Break Stage
One of the newest entrants on the Seattle studio scene is Zoo Break Stage, located in Burien. This giant space (24,000 square feet) is located in a former Staples office supply store.
Studio operator Mischa Jakupac says her efforts to build out the stage are in progress and the facility is improving every week. Currently Zoo Break offers a green screen and a blue screen. Planned construction of a two-wall cyc will begin soon. Other planned improvements include sound baffling efforts to deaden an otherwise live space.
The studio offers ample free parking onsite, as well as a large loading dock and construction space. Zoobreak also has production office space and pre-built flats available.
Zoo Break has established a partnership with PGL, and will soon offer a selection of grip and lighting equipment to their customers.
Aptly named, this Eastside studio is located just off Hwy 520 in Bellevue. Working studio area is 30’ x 24’ and features a two-wall hard cyc and 12’ grid. The third wall features a 16’x9’ green screen. Total of 1400 sf of rentable studio space includes production offices, kitchen/lounge, dressing room, greenroom and makeup space. Drive-in access is available for load-ins and vehicle access.
B47 offers a small studio (950 sf) on Elliott Ave near Queen Anne. Studio amenities include powered lighting grid, studio cameras, live switcher setup, satellite up and down-link capabilities and more. B47 also features a green room, conference rooms, kitchen, loading dock and available grip, lighting and green screen packages.
The studio at Motofish in Redmond is largely used as a photo studio. Some sound issues may exist, but it is available for rentals.
Session Seven Studios
One of the newest production spaces in Seattle, Session Seven is located in the Pyramid Alehouse, across from Safeco Field. They feature three studio spaces in all, including a 1200 square foot studio with a two-wall cyc.
Some grip equipment is also available as part of studio rentals, depending on availability. Hourly studio rentals are available – and encouraged.
The House Studios
Lower Queen Anne is home to The House Studios, part of a creative collective/association with 3,500 square feet of studio space.
The production area includes a cyc wall, kitchen, multiple bathrooms and living/work area, all with a 20 foot ceiling. Grip & lighting equipment, camera support gear and select props and backgrounds can be rented for your shoots at The House Studios as well.
University of Washington offers three video studios for rental to the general public.
Studio K, located in Kane Hall is a 1708 square foot studio with powered lighting grid, master control, cyc wall, green screen and teleprompter.
Studio P, also located in Kane Hall, known as the Pocket Studio is a 208 square foot studio used primarily for live presentations.
Studio H is located in the Magnuson Health Sciences Center. It is 1187 square feet, includes a green screen and lighting grid.
Heart of Capitol Hill Cyc Wall Studio
As the name implies, this 1,500 square foot studio is located around the corner from Neumos in – you guessed it – the heart of Capitol Hill. A 20×15 two-wall cyc and street-level access are among the amenities here. A variety of grip equipment offerings are available for renters as well.
Provide your constructive comments about Seattle area production studios. If possible, BigHouse will update this post in an effort to keep it current. Contact BigHouse for information about ways we can help with your next production project.