The Jaxson

Community => History => Topic started by: Metro Jacksonville on August 25, 2008, 05:00:00 AM

Title: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Metro Jacksonville on August 25, 2008, 05:00:00 AM
Norman Studios: Before & After

(http://www.metrojacksonville.com/photos/thumbs/lrg-6017-p1130383.JPG)

A look at the restoration of Jacksonville's last remaining turn of the century silent film studio production facility.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/873
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 25, 2008, 07:31:35 AM
What will it be used for now?
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Chaz1969 on August 25, 2008, 07:38:22 AM
I'd watch that first step!
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Joe on August 25, 2008, 08:28:07 AM
Good for them. I remember sitting in on a planning department meeting - it must have been over 7 years ago - discussing the possibility of rehabbing Norman Studios.

It seemed like a very "pie in the sky" idea that was never going to happen. And this was in the Delaney years, when things actually did happen! ;)

I'm glad to see that some of those community activists managed to achieve their goals.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: thelakelander on August 25, 2008, 09:56:45 AM
What will it be used for now?

Eventually, they've convert it into a silent film history museum.  However, I heard there was only enough money set aside to restore the buildings.  So it may take a while.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: stug on August 25, 2008, 04:20:37 PM
And, in the meantime, the building is allowed to deteriorate again?  :-[
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Ocklawaha on August 25, 2008, 11:06:41 PM
Great start, for a small world class attraction.

VISION!

Screenings of original Norman and other JAX silent stock.

Working stages, cameras and sets.

COLOR WORKS for visitors, you'd be shocked how they got red lips etc... in B&W days

Star in your own flick, a high tech, digital production, hidden within period equipment and stock...all for a price of course.

Meet the stars, a rolling tour of the earliest actors available to visit. The silents are mostly gone, but some of the early talkies still live. Other has-beens would love the attention for a day.

Early recording studio

Make your own (again with modern high tech hidden within) and for a price.

Top notch impersonators, L&H, Chaplin, etc.

VISION!

I love this...


OCKLAWAHA
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: rjp2008 on August 26, 2008, 01:11:36 PM
Not bad. A nice updating.

However, in addition to re-creating the past, where are the modern filmaker studios of Jax? Remember the past yes, but where are the first class studios of today here?
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Joe on August 26, 2008, 02:01:53 PM
The film industry dynamic has changed quite a bit in recent years. Lots of cities are falling all over themselves to pass huge tax breaks for movies and tv shows. Jacksonville still lands a movie shoot every few years or so. However, in order to land productions consistently, Jax (and more importantly, the state of Florida) would have to offer massive tax breaks.

I'm actually not opposed to tax breaks. But it's just helpful to remember that movie productions might not generate all that much economic impact, because of the tax breaks required to lure the business.

On the other hand, even if you lure a movie to town (with or without tax breaks) there's no guarantee that anything will come of it. That "Lonley Hearts" movie never had a major theater release, despite lots of big name stars.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Ocklawaha on August 28, 2008, 01:22:39 PM
Quote
Quote
However, in addition to re-creating the past, where are the modern filmaker studios of Jax? Remember the past yes, but where are the first class studios of today here?


The film industry dynamic has changed quite a bit in recent years. Lots of cities are falling all over themselves to pass huge tax breaks for movies and tv shows. Jacksonville still lands a movie shoot every few years or so. However, in order to land productions consistently, Jax (and more importantly, the state of Florida) would have to offer massive tax breaks.

PBS has very nice studios at Metropolitan Park, complete with sound stages and all of the toys needed to produce first class films. Likewise the local "Good Morning Jacksonville" show is produced just down the street in a similar studio. Large super sudios are more a thing of the past, most even in California has vanished since about 1970.

On location shooting is so much cheaper then going on a sound stage to re-create a city scene, or jungle etc... For example, do you know where most of the movie's Tombstone or Wyatt Earp were shot? In TOMBSTONE! They hauled in enough dirt to cover the city streets and closed downtown for a couple of days, in exchange for some big bucks. Another benefit to our citizens is they'll send out location specialist who might end up at your door. "We'd love to use your house, but it has to be run down and purple, with a porch over there, that we can knock down in scene XXX..." Just keep listening. "When were done, we're prepaired to rebuild the new porch (if you liked it), rebuild and repaint the house, and add whatever notions it will take to do business with you..." STANDARD!

and joe is right, we SHOULD beat out the rest of the country in perks to get the shoots done here. Give away the farm if needed but get them here. WHY? Well having worked in the business I can tell you they spend like fools when they hit town. When we shot "The Rape of Mrs. R's Daughter", we set a room up in a small travel trailer that would belong to the rapist. Well, one of the set guys didn't like the lamp so he and I went into town for "THE RIGHT LAMP!" Enter an antique store, both of us covered in dirt from a 1/2 day of throwing dirt in the air (another story), and he goes to a lamp that's like $2,000 dollars. "That's the one we want..." The lady couldn't believe it when he pulled out a wad of cash and just walked out with the thing. Then 90% of the shooting in that damn trailer was left on the cutting room floor! Don't know where the ugly old lamp went, but I got the stereo!!!

Just set all the way through the end credits on a major action film and try and read every person, job and company represented. Honest, thousands of people and hundreds of crafts and businesses involved, right down to "Thanks to COJ, The JAX Landing, JSO, Stricklands Mayport, Beachwalk, The Lemon Bar, 3 layers... etc...etc..."  $$$$$$ like this city hasn't seen since the silent era is there for the taking. Just create a package too good to turn down and watch how fast someting like CSI Miami, becomes CSI Jacksonville![/color][/b]

OCKLAWAHA
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: leahfu on August 29, 2008, 10:48:15 PM
I remember hearing about a silent movie studio still standing on Arlington road and always wondered where it was. This was before I realized Arlington road veered left when it met Rogero. When I discovered it did, I KNEW this building must be the one! I was a little discontent when I saw the beginning of the repairs thinking maybe they would tear it down. Of course after a little while I knew that SOMEONE was restoring this historic building. You have no idea how elated I was when I found out tonight that this building is going to be a museum.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: MacMcDonald on September 03, 2008, 07:01:08 PM
Once renovations are complete and the money is found to purchase the last of the five buildings (currently being used as a church and the asking price is somewhere in the 1.5 million range) the grounds and the five buildings will be turned into a community center, museum, and during the summer an at risk youth film camp.

The Norman Studios are the only still standing complete "Lot" Silent Film Era Studios still standing in the United States.  What that means is, while there may be a building here or there, the Norman Studios is the only complete studio, all buildings still standing, in the country.  Additionally, the Norman Studios has a special place in history being the only silent film studio to make films for the African American Market in those days.  Mr. Norman was know for portraying African Americans as more than "Slaves" and "Natives" in films often casting them as Doctors, Laywers, Cowboys, and Pilots.

Jacksonville is steeped in early film history with over 20 studios making Jacksonville their home at the turn of the 20th century.  Sadly, the local citizens of Jacksonville, while enjoying the output of those studios greatly, didn't think much of having those "Movie Folk" about and even elected a Mayor whose campaign was to drive the dirty movie people out.  Goes to show the short sightedness we complain about in modern times has some very deep roots.

Regarding Incentives; They are a necessary evil in today's film industry.  One only needs to watch the industry tabliods to see the effectiveness of them as places like Louisianna and Michigan lure huge number of films to their state with their incentives (Michigan and Louisianna offer over %40 incentives to film companies to shoot there, effectively getting into "Film Financing" and not incentive).  What we here in Florida need to do, if we want to bring some of the filming "heyday" back here, is to model our incentive after places like North Carolina.

North Carolina uses a "Transferable Tax Credit" incentive to lure both film and television production to their state.  They have set their annual allotment in the 35 to 40 million dollar a year range and their state legislature has passed the incentive for a 7 year period.  This lets production companies, film and television, know that they will have that money for years to come.  Television shows often make decisions on where to shoot based on the longevity of the incentive ("As long as I get picked up, I'll qualify in your state").

Currently we have a "Cash Incentive" in which we as a state provide up to 22% of a productions qualified expenses back to them in a cash payout (15%, plus an additional 5% shooting during "Season" {Hurricane}, plus an additional 2% for Family Friendly).  This cash allotment comes from the money put aside by the legislature each year when they meet and the state budget is put through.  The money often depends on how the state did the year before.  For example, this past session the state was taking a hit from the ill advised Property Tax legislation and our allotment fell from $25 million to $5 million this year.  Another small flaw in the "Cash Incentive" is, out of town productions can "Take the Money and Run".  There is no incentive to stay here and spend it.

Currently a new plan, originally proposed by Paul Sirmons and being championed by Lucia Fishburne, is the "Transferrable Tax Credit".  This plan gives an out of state production money in the form of a transferable tax credit.  It is not a cash payout and wouldn't be a budget line item needing approval each year.  It could be approved for a number of years in advance like in North Carolina.  This helps because it gaurantees money over a long period which really incentives productions to come and stay here.  The tax credit would help to entice some production companies to form "Permanent" offices and productions here to use the credit.  Likewise the transfer ability of it would allow those "one time" productions to sell what's left of the credit to other in state companies (CSX, St. Joe, Bombardier, etc.) through a broker for about 80 cents on the dollar, providing additional benefits to the state and it's other companies.

For more information regarding the Florida State Film Incentive go to http://www.filminflorida.com/ifi/incentives.asp or if you wish to dialog more about Filming in Jacksonville and the First Coast contact me at macmcdonald@fmptajax.org
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Ocklawaha on September 03, 2008, 08:08:37 PM
Quote
Once renovations are complete and the money is found to purchase the last of the five buildings (currently being used as a church and the asking price is somewhere in the 1.5 million range) the grounds and the five buildings will be turned into a community center, museum, and during the summer an at risk youth film camp.

Sorry if this puts a knot in your shorts, but I think the above uses are a HORRIBLE AND SHORTSIGHTED WASTE and lack of VISION more typical of Cowford then JACKSONVILLE!

How many MILLION movie fans pour into Universal Studios or Disney/MGM to experience the shoot? Sure it's mostly smoke and mirrors but it is also an occasional working set. How many million persons work directly or indirectly in the film industry? All of this and WE and only WE have a one of a kind opportunity for something that would be world famous overnight. Nope, gotta make a community center and youth camp... You have got to FFFFFFFF'in be kidding right? I mean a world class studio attraction doesn't have to have the glitter of Disney, it could in fact be a local branch of the Smithsonian.... COULD BE, WOULD BE, SHOULD BE... DAMN. Hey and in the process we could entertain some kids.

Anyone want to invest in the ANDES with me? God all Mighty, El Retiro is looking sweet right now above the clouds and mind altering effects of Florida's heat. Sometimes you just miss a progressive society.

Hey! I've got it, lets sell it all to Disney, they'll open a new park around it and we can make some big bucks then once the buildings are moved, build a Walgreens and Youth pool hall...

"La La La La La La Oh Jacksonville, how I love you...la la la...."


OCKLAWAHA
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: civil42806 on September 03, 2008, 10:17:36 PM
Quote
Once renovations are complete and the money is found to purchase the last of the five buildings (currently being used as a church and the asking price is somewhere in the 1.5 million range) the grounds and the five buildings will be turned into a community center, museum, and during the summer an at risk youth film camp.

Sorry if this puts a knot in your shorts, but I think the above uses are a HORRIBLE AND SHORTSIGHTED WASTE and lack of VISION more typical of Cowford then JACKSONVILLE!

How many MILLION movie fans pour into Universal Studios or Disney/MGM to experience the shoot? Sure it's mostly smoke and mirrors but it is also an occasional working set. How many million persons work directly or indirectly in the film industry? All of this and WE and only WE have a one of a kind opportunity for something that would be world famous overnight. Nope, gotta make a community center and youth camp... You have got to FFFFFFFF'in be kidding right? I mean a world class studio attraction doesn't have to have the glitter of Disney, it could in fact be a local branch of the Smithsonian.... COULD BE, WOULD BE, SHOULD BE... DAMN. Hey and in the process we could entertain some kids.

Anyone want to invest in the ANDES with me? God all Mighty, El Retiro is looking sweet right now above the clouds and mind altering effects of Florida's heat. Sometimes you just miss a progressive society.

Hey! I've got it, lets sell it all to Disney, they'll open a new park around it and we can make some big bucks then once the buildings are moved, build a Walgreens and Youth pool hall...

"La La La La La La Oh Jacksonville, how I love you...la la la...."


OCKLAWAHA

What exactly do you think these few building could be used for?  A small historical site make sense.  Looking at the renovation very little was salvaged off the original site.  I could see making it a part of a Black history trail.  But I don't see how you could make this any kind of major attraction, regardless of how progressive you are, the interest in silent movies and old movie history isn't that wide.  But I would love to hear some ideas.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: civil42806 on September 03, 2008, 10:28:49 PM
Great start, for a small world class attraction.

VISION!

Screenings of original Norman and other JAX silent stock.

Working stages, cameras and sets.

COLOR WORKS for visitors, you'd be shocked how they got red lips etc... in B&W days

Star in your own flick, a high tech, digital production, hidden within period equipment and stock...all for a price of course.

Meet the stars, a rolling tour of the earliest actors available to visit. The silents are mostly gone, but some of the early talkies still live. Other has-beens would love the attention for a day.

Early recording studio

Make your own (again with modern high tech hidden within) and for a price.

Top notch impersonators, L&H, Chaplin, etc.

VISION!

I love this...


OCKLAWAHA

Sorry about the last post Ocklawaha, didn't see this entry in the reply.  I guess I'm going to be a curmudgeon, usually am with your posts.  But who exactly is going to invest all this money to accomplish this?  Is there some latent demand for it?  I just don't see it, its a wonderful vision, but unless the city, state and feds are willing to pony up for the long haul, seems extremely impractical.  Unless your willing to be its sugar daddy?
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: civil42806 on September 03, 2008, 10:35:28 PM
The idea of screening the norman works and other jax silent films is a great idea, that could easily be merged with a relatively low cost  improvement to the studios.  The if that takes off and proves popular, then you could certainly start to expand on your ideas.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Ocklawaha on September 03, 2008, 10:59:33 PM
The whole concept of not going for calamitous potations in everything we do, holds Jacksonville at the purlieus of magnificence...

You can quote me on that Stephendare!


OCKLAWAHA
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Jason on September 04, 2008, 11:44:51 AM
You could have fit a few more big words in there Ock.  ;)


Showing the original works sounds like a great idea.  Also imagine a sign on the highway directing visitors and passers-by to the Jacksonville Silent Film Museum.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: civil42806 on September 04, 2008, 09:10:34 PM
Just out of interest are there any significant number of Norman pictures or other silents filmed in jacksonville still in existence?  I'm a big history buff as well, though my interest varies over time, right now I'm digging into the middle ages.  Unfortunately Och not many share our interests.
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: Ocklawaha on September 05, 2008, 01:00:35 AM
Yes! YES! and YES! Copies of every single one are in the Smithsonian Collection and could be digitized with a restoration grant. Tallahassee and (MAYBE?) Gainesville have a few. JHS did have a couple of shorts. Oliver Hardys BOUNCING BABY is available online, See: http://www.floridamemory.com/photographicCollection/videofilm2/video.cfm?VID=7
Just click your favorite player and watch. Though it is very short, it shows early Riverside and Forsyth Streets and a dozen streetcars! The work of the other companies are saved too.

There are Hollywood and San Francisco Bay area groups that work with restoration of old films. "The Heritage Film Project."

Locally there are thousands of movie buffs, and certainly a few thousand classic movie buffs. Otherwise our arts scene wouldn't be strong like it is. Frankly, we have more stage and foriegn film or small studio showings in many of our smaller theaters then Orlando. We also have a local chapter of THE SONS OF THE DESERT, the LEAVE-EM-LAUGHING TENT. This is the international society based on a mythical lodge in the famous Laurel and Hardy film Sons of the Desert. Their sole purpose is the meet, screen, discuss and work to preserve the memory and share the fun of these old flicks.

We just have to remember "If You Have to make a noise, make it quietly!" and "Your finally using MY brain..." Now would someone "strike a match so I can see if my lights are lit?" "Frankly (Sir) I (do) give a damn!"
"Who's on First, what's on second and I don't know Who's on third." "Wanna buy a Duck?" "Peanuts, get your hot peanuts" "hello room service send up a room, if you can't spare a room, send up a hall." "and if they disagree, we'll stand them up aginst the wall, and POP goes the weasel". "Why this is neither pig, nor pork, this is sausage!" "How long do you stay fresh in that can". "My name is Captain Spalding... "

ROCK ON JACKSONVILLE!


OCKLAWAHA
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: thelakelander on September 07, 2008, 01:56:58 AM
Quote
Before There Was Hollywood - There Was Fla.'s Own Jacksonville

City had more than 30 movie studios before industry was snuffed in the state.

By RON WORD
The Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE | Before there was Hollywood, there was Jacksonville.

Oliver Hardy made his debut film there in 1913's "Outwitting Daddy." The first feature-length color film produced in the U.S. - the 1917 release "The Gulf Between" - was filmed in Jacksonville.

It even was the birthplace of Metro Pictures, which later merged with other production houses to become Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or MGM.

Dubbed the "World's Winter Film Capital" a century ago when Kalem Pictures moved its offseason production here to escape New York winters, Jacksonville once had more than 30 studios.

"Jacksonville was once the Big Daddy of it all," said Shawn Bean, a Melbourne, Fla., writer whose new book, "The First Hollywood," details the city's rise and fall as the nation's destination for movie production.

The city's cinema production thrived for about a decade and survived for a decade more before competition from its California rival, disease, war and clashes with the locals drove the industry from town.

Jacksonville's downfall started as its California rival took off in the 1920s, complete with the now-famous "Hollywood" sign built into the hills above Los Angeles.

"For Jacksonville, the sign was a gravestone," Bean writes. "The deceased was a turn-of-the-century East Coast film town that once drew industry elites and wide-eyed hucksters."

Today, Jacksonville is spending $681,000 to restore four of five of the last remaining buildings from the city's movie heyday, hoping the Norman Studios buildings can become a silent-film museum and community center. The city is trying to raise another $2.5 million to finish the structures' interiors and purchase an adjoining building that was part of the original studio.

"It is a great legacy for my father," said Richard Norman, the 82-year-old son of the filmmaker of the same name, whose silent films featured black actors and were aimed at black audiences. "He was an exceptional man."

In the early days, Jacksonville prospered because it offered a variety of backgrounds from sandy beaches and tropical jungles to urban scenes. And the railroad stopped here, making it an easy destination for northern filmmakers.

Among the notable Jacksonville films were the 35 one-reelers in the "Plump and Runt" series made by Hardy and his sidekick Billy Ruge. Many of the films contained Southern, Florida and Civil War stories, including "The Old Soldier's Story" and "The Escape from Andersonville."

When World War I broke out, many actors and technicians joined the armed forces or took jobs at Jacksonville's growing shipyards. The 1918 worldwide flu pandemic struck the city particularly hard.

Filmmakers didn't help their cause, pulling alarms so they could shoot real-life fire trucks rushing to fight blazes that didn't exist. Car chase scenes in town were criticized as reckless. Churchgoers didn't like studios staging bank robberies on Sundays, when the streets were empty.

"Some people felt the filmmakers were taking over the town," Bean said.

An anti-film mayor was elected in 1917 and by 1930 the city had lost all major producers.

Jacksonville wasn't the only location where early filmmakers were producing moving pictures, a new and popular medium. Cuba, Arizona and the Bahamas were also the location of some of the films, Bean said. In 1920, a studio to produce silent films was opened in Astoria, N.Y., by Paramount Pictures, according to the American Museum of the Moving Image.

Recently, however, Jacksonville has reclaimed some of its prior glory - about 60 movies and TV shows shot here, including HBO's "Recount," about the disputed 2000 presidential election, the movie "Basic" that started John Travolta and "The Devil's Advocate."

The city never regained the national stature it enjoyed for the first part of the 20th century.

"Jacksonville was a shooting star," Bean said.

"It burned really hot and really fast."

http://www.theledger.com/article/20080905/NEWS/809050349/0/VIDEO
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: copperfiend on September 07, 2008, 10:15:26 AM
Quote
Before There Was Hollywood - There Was Fla.'s Own Jacksonville

"Some people felt the filmmakers were taking over the town," Bean said.

An anti-film mayor was elected in 1917 and by 1930 the city had lost all major producers.


http://www.theledger.com/article/20080905/NEWS/809050349/0/VIDEO

John Peyton's great great grandfather??
Title: Re: Norman Studios: Before & After
Post by: kam311 on October 19, 2009, 12:47:51 PM
I had the opportunity to explore this building during a particular stage in the restoration several years back.  Definitely an interesting interior design.  It's been 6 or 7 years since I was there, but I just remember what seemed like a labyrinth of rooms and hallways.  It'd be neat to see what it looks like now without the absolute mess that was the inside before...