Pigmental Studios has signed an agreement to purchase a 67-acre tract at the old St. Marys Airport as the site for a new movie campus where animated films and other projects will be produced.

James Coughlin, executive director of the Camden County Joint Development Authority, said representatives with the movie company first visited the site late last year for a groundbreaking ceremony for a planned 160-slip marina at the site of the old Gilman Paper Co. about a mile away.

Coughlin said the studio, with other facilities in Los Angeles and Washington D.C., has also rented a vacant church building about a block away where a 9,000-square-foot athletic building will be renovated into a film studio. Office space is also being built in the church building.

The long-term plans are for a film campus on the airport site that includes multiple buildings for an animation studio, artist facilities and other support services.

The number of employees on site will vary depending on the different stages of a project, he said.

Coughlin credited Jim Jacoby, the Atlanta developer who is developing the old paper mill site that has been vacant since Durango-Georgia Paper Co. declared bankruptcy in 2002.

Jacoby encouraged officials from Pigmental to tour the airport site after the marina groundbreaking, leading to the negotiations for the property.

Coughlin said the studio will use hangar space at the airport site, but plans include several stages, offices and an entire studio complex.

The company will produce animated films, games, and taking children’s books and turning them into animated features.

The studio wanted a location in Coastal Georgia to take advantage of the state’s generous incentives to attract moviemakers to the state. Coughlin said the studio was also looking for a location for water-related productions.

The location near airports in Jacksonville, Fla. and Glynn County, as well as close proximity to Interstate 95 were also selling points.

“They liked the idea of the Georgia tax credit,” he said. “And, they didn’t want to fight for studio space.”

The company is also encouraging the cities of St. Marys, Kingsland and Woodbine, along with the county, to pass ordinances that allow moviemakers to only have to apply for one permit to film anywhere in the county.

Coughlin said the city and studio have a tentative agreement to purchase the airport property for $20,000 an acre.

A groundbreaking event is planned at a date to be announced, Coughlin said.

Written by Gordon Jackson, The Brunswick News