MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis businessman hopes to build a new empire and forge a new path in the city’s long, rich history of delivering entertainment to the world.
Jason Farmer and his company Black Lens Productions, or BLP Film Studios, are planning a massive new movie lot just off of Elvis Presley Boulevard. City officials signed off on the 85-acre project Thursday.
Besides a number of new studios, the company is calling for a mixed-use development featuring a hotel, event center and office space. The company hopes to break ground this fall and, if all goes according to plan, the project will be finished in a couple of years.
As a Whitehaven native, Farmer has been adamant about building a base in Memphis with a global reach.
“That concept of being Memphis based with a global reach is already a proven business model. I think I just saw a FedEx plane fly by a few minutes ago,” he said. “Again, that’s that whole Memphis-based, global reach concept. And we can do that same synergy around the film and TV market. We’re creating an epicenter for Black and brown content creators from around the world to come to Memphis to create content that will go out to the general market around the world.”
He says Memphis had been missing one thing to be competitive with Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles.
“We didn’t have infrastructure,” Farmer said. “What BLP Film studios realizes is the realization is filling that void for infrastructure.”
Farmer says his son, Jason Farmer II, is his motivation behind the studios.
“At the time, I was like seven or eight years old and in my mind, I’m enjoying Iron Man and Transformers, not thinking years later, my dad was going to build a whole film studio because I said I wanted to be a filmmaker,” the younger Farmer said.
This project has the potential to create more than 1,000 new jobs and bring millions in new economic growth to the city. BLP also hopes to partner with Memphis schools and colleges to create training programs for students.
“In addition the opportunities and to be able to keep young people who want to be in a creative space here in Memphis, instead of having to go other places to seek opportunities,” said Carolyn Henry, BLP partner and CFO.
Linn Sitler, the Shelby County Film and TV commissioner, recently told WREG those potential opportunities could be a game changer for bringing Hollywood to Memphis.
“If Jason Farmer fills up that soundstage, and we’ll certainly do everything we can to help him do that, it will be incredible for us and for Tennessee,” Sitler said.