Add this to Florida’s ceaseless efforts to become the mythical Hollywood East: a local businessman plans to construct a set of twin soundstages in the Sarasota suburb of Lakewood Ranch for filming new film and television endeavors along with a base camp at Sa rasota-Bradenton International Airport for corporate offices and aviation operations.
Sanborn Studios is the brainchild of Ken Sanborn, an entrepreneur who grew up in Lakeland and cut his teeth working in aerial photography with WNBC’s helicopter operations in New York City. After leaving the industry, he developed a gyroscopic camera rig that stabilized footage taken from moving vehicles, such as helicopters and armored personnel carriers. The technology was spun off into Gyrocam Systems, a firm based in Sarasota with over $500 million in yearly revenue that was then sold to defense contractor Lockheed Martin in 2009 for an undisclosed fee.
The firm hopes to produce feature films and television shows here in Sarasota, with a pilot in development currently about news reporters in Miami who cover stories by helicopter, a nod to its owner’s past. It also plans to take advantage of tax incentives provided by the state and local governments to the tune of $1.5 million — an acknowledgement that the area is desperate for the more than 100 jobs Sanborn hopes to create when his studio operations get off the ground. As to whether or not these jobs would be available for New College students, Sanborn Studios did not respond to the Catalyst’s repeated requests for comment.
Information for this article came from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and from www.sanbornstudiosllc.com.