WALKER — A film studio that previously operated in downtown Grand Rapids is considering larger industrial space in Walker to accommodate local filmmakers looking to rent production space.
Black Pigeon Studios LLC opened in September 2021 at 342 Market Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids, providing affordable space to rent for shooting short films and music videos as well as hosting photo shoots and events. The company recently vacated the Market Avenue space ahead of its planned move to an industrial building at 2648 Three Mile Road NW in Walker. The new site is three times larger than the company’s first site, said Black Pigeon Studios co-founder Josh Sikkema.
“Black Pigeon Studios is more of a rental space than a production company,” Sikkema said. “We seek to bring films to Michigan and serve as a resource for content creators and videographers.”
Sikkema is originally from Grand Rapids but lives in Los Angeles, where Black Pigeon Studios co-founders Thomas Blunt and Johnny Ray also reside.
“I dropped out of Grand Rapids Community College after about three and a half weeks as a broadcast specialist,” Sikkema said. “I had no resources and (there was) nowhere to shoot. The second best option for me was to rent studios, but they are not affordable. »
The Walker Planning Commission will consider Black Pigeon’s application for an exceptional use permit to move into the industrial building on Three Mile Road on November 2. The floor plan filed with the city offers two interior studios, a kitchen, and a large interior staging space totaling approximately 6,050 square feet.
Indian Creek Place LLC is listed as the industrial site owner. Black Pigeon Studios hopes to eventually purchase the property, Sikkema said.
Black Pigeon Studios’ Grand Rapids location had heating issues and lacked a proper soundscape, Sikkema said. The new location will require minimal changes to convert into a film studio, and company officials hope to move in late November or early December this year, Sikkema added.
Sikkema spent the past nine months researching a new location for Black Pigeon Studios, and he contacted the landlord immediately after Walker’s location was listed, he said.
“We took a heavy loss all last year, but we believe in the mission and it’s all our dollars,” Sikkema said. “We are very local and seek to partner with non-profit organizations. We’re really excited about this project because I’m from Grand Rapids. When I left for Los Angeles, my whole goal in life was to be able to come full circle. I bring them what I want and would like to have here.
The plan is to lease the new space the same way the original Black Pigeon Studios site operated, and the company’s founders aim to bring major films and projects back to Michigan, said Sikkema, who is also a supporter of bring film incentives back to the state.
Black Pigeon Studios plans to work with Walker FCF Drywall LLC on the construction of his new studio.