Walking onto the 320,000-square-foot campus of middle Tennessee’s new film and entertainment production complex, Worldwide Stages, is a pleasant surprise. Production facilities are often located in congested, dodgy neighborhoods of old warehouses on the outskirts of cities, making parking difficult and security a risk. Worldwide Stages is the opposite. It is spacious, luxurious, surrounded by wildflower fields and filled with comforting touches like sunny atriums and designer-curated sitting areas.
Located in the former Saturn corporate headquarters in Spring Hill, the complex couldn’t be more convenient for production crews. It’s just minutes off the highway with acres of space for parking trucks, unloading equipment and providing the services necessary for filming features, commercials, TV series, music videos, tour preparation, photo shoots, concert rehearsals, and live-streamed events. Walls in the main building’s lobby are lined with signed pictures of artists who have utilized the space, including Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Darius Rucker, TobyMac, TLC, Tyler Hubbard, Thomas Rhett and Walker Hayes.
A tour took us by four (soon to be eight) massive soundstages where crews were building sets and a major studio feature film was being shot. “One of the nice things about these stages,” says Kelly Frey, founder and CEO of Worldwide Stages, “is that their design allows for a music video to be filmed in one while an album cover is being shot in another.”
Frey is an ardent arts supporter, having executive-produced feature films and served as president of the Greater Nashville Arts and Business Council, the Nashville Film Festival and the Franklin Theatre. He and his partners saw an opportunity with the vacant Saturn campus to keep creative capital here in Nashville and be good stewards of a complex that already existed, rather
than building on empty land. “We created a place where artists and crews can feel happy, safe, and be treated well,” says Frey. “The attitude of the cast and crew comes across onscreen, and attitude is something you just can’t fix in post-production.”
Amenities abound, including a 100-seat screening theater, a grade-A commercial kitchen, massage and spa rooms, modern bathrooms with hot showers, even a vintage-style speakeasy with a full bar and comfy furniture for artists to relax in after rehearsals or filming. “Artists and talent like to hang out here because it’s a safe and private environment for them. They can invite their family and friends and enjoy a luxurious lounge.”
When requested, the staff can provide professional chefs, craft services, fitness trainers or massage therapists from the local community. If crews need a quick coffee run or meal, they’ll find The Fainting Goat Coffee Co., Starbucks, Panera, Target and many other stores and restaurants five minutes away. Home Depot is nearby for gaffers and set builders. Gas stations and hotels are also just down the road.
Because of the high profiles of their clients, Worldwide Stages provides onsite medics and state-of-the-art security, staffed by former law enforcement and military personnel, with campus-wide facial recognition cameras. When this reporter arrived for a tour, my arrival was noted on a bank of security monitors and a guard immediately whisked me to my appointment.
“In other production markets like Los Angeles or Atlanta, driving to a complex to rehearse or film can take over an hour, maybe longer,” says Frey. “We’re only about 30 minutes south of Nashville. When completed, we will have invested over $100 million in our campus. There’s really no other entertainment complex like it.”
Worldwide Stages is located at 5000 Northfield Lane in Spring Hill. WorldwideStages.com