The BLP Film Studios project has cleared another hurdle, gaining the support of the Memphis City Council.

by James Coleman —

A proposed mixed-use film studio to be located in Whitehaven received the go-ahead from the Memphis City Council Tuesday (July 20).

BLP Film Studios is planned for the intersection of Scaife Road and Elvis Presley Boulevard. In addition to soundstages, the 85-acre-site, as currently planned, will include administrative offices, a hotel, gift shop and a RV parking area. 

Film, television and commercials would be produced there.

“We are anticipating that traditional construction activities will start in the spring of next year,” Jason Farmer, founder and CEO of BLP film studios told the council’s Planning and Zoning Committee.

The Black-owned studio is expected to be phased-in over 2½ years. The project had been approved by the Land Use Control Board in June.

“This is incredibly exciting. Look, the industry is moving out of the state of California into tax-friendly states. I hope the state government supports your endeavor and gets more behind film and television,” said committee Chair Chase Carlisle.

Carlisle, a real estate and development executive, revealed he cut his teeth in Los Angeles working on a Warner Bros. lot for Thunder Road production company.

“My only concern is night time filming. A lot of times ‘call shoots’ can be for 12:30 (or) one o’clock in the morning. Depending on what you are shooting … there’s car chase scenes being filmed at 1 in the morning. 

“You know what, take a camera down to Riverside Drive, we’ll shoot that scene for you. (laughing). I just want to make sure that residents are not disturbed with night time filming that is not going on inside a soundstage,” said Carlisle, referencing the street’s reputation for late-night street racing.

Farmer reassured the committee that he was sensitive to the issue of noise. He too is a Whitehaven resident. Nevertheless, the point struck a nerve.

“If we approve it, I want you to put it in there. If I hear it, close it down. The reason why I am saying that ⸺ Graceland has really disappointed my neighborhood. I am directly behind there. Sound. Whenever they have something, hell, it wakes us all up,” said Councilman Edmund Ford Sr.

“I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want your neighbors to hear that. I don’t want you to go out there and promise something if we approve this, you do just the opposite.”

There also was concern that a noisy neighbor would not only annoy existing neighbors, but could also hinder development in an area, which is on an upswing.

“We are an aging community, so the only thing I want to make sure you do is build some buffers. We had an article in the paper about a new gated community on that same street, so we want to make sure we are thoughtful of all our neighbors in the community, because we want that growth in our community,” said Councilmember Patrice Robinson, whose district includes Whitehaven.

The resolution passed unanimously. Voting in favor were J. Ford Canale, Michalyn Easter-Thomas, Cheyenne Johnson, Martavius Jones, Rhonda Logan, Worth Morgan, JB Smiley Jr., Jamita Swearengen, Jeff Warren, Frank Colvett, Jr., Carlisle, Ford and Robinson.

Its language was amended in committee to scale down a proposed RV park and campground to a RV parking area. It will be set at least 500 feet away from any residential area.