Within a month, the founder of Masque Studios Utah hopes to file with Summit County the plans for a $100 million movie studio in the Boyer Tech Park.
The process would begin with determining whether or not the studio plan meets the legal definition of the development agreement for the Kimball Junction space, a fact that has county officials and developers dusting off the original agreement from 2008.
The studio project, which has been in the works for more than a year, has prompted meetings with Founder Steve Perry and both local and state officials, including County Manager Bob Jasper and Gov. Gary Herbert.
"We are not doing anything at Masque Studios that has not been approved at the Boyer Tech Park property," Perry said. "As long as we stay in the guidelines, the thinking is there will not be too much we have to alter, but we still want the county involved in the process."
The development agreement, the part of the project that may potentially need to be altered depending on county recommendations and the interpretation of legal definitions, intended that the development create high-paying, technology-based jobs. Perry said the studio would create these jobs through sound, digital effects, 3D animation and motion capture studios. The project would also create training opportunities for locals with the intent to provide at-hand crews to film projects, from hair and makeup to lighting to set carpentry, Perry said.
"Our goal is that in five years, there will not be a film company around that will have to bring people in from out of state," he added. "That's going to bring business in."
Despite the confidence among the project's developers that the studio will fit within the prescribed legal definitions the studio is admittedly using a broad definition of the development agreement county officials remain unconvinced before any documentation is formally submitted.
"We first got a rough sense of the project eight or nine months ago," Jasper said. " They will have to go through a development agreement process for that property, figure out what they can or cannot do. My guess is we will probably have to consider amending the agreement."
"The plans will have to go through the Planning Commission," he added, "and from there they will make a recommendation to the County Council. Then the council will have to decide."
County Council members are reserving their opinions on Masque Studios Utah until more specific plans come forward, outlining how technology-based the project is and whether or not it will fall within the guidelines in creating clean, high-paying jobs.
Roger Armstrong, a County Council member with legal experience in the entertainment industry including working with Universal Pictures and TriStar Pictures, said he would need to see the plans before making any determination, although his larger, and separate concern, was whether or not a movie studio is feasible in Summit County.
"I question whether a significant movie studio is viable," Armstrong said. " I have my doubts that a traditional movie studio, one with sound stages and the other typical components, would sign the amount of production in Utah that would sustain that."
Fellow County Council Member Chris Robinson admitted that, at this point, his knowledge of the project was limited, that nothing has been filed and specifics remain undefined.
"It is too early to comment," Robinson said. "I am not enough of a student of the Boyer Tech Park development agreement."
"I will need to figure out what is legally doable," he added. "I don't want to pre-judge the project. They need to make a proposal, and we need to dust off the development agreement to see if it fits."