Grand Rapids movie studio plans move to Walker industrial building

BY Wednesday, October 26, 2022 06:22pm

WALKER — A movie studio that formerly operated in downtown Grand Rapids is eyeing a larger industrial space in Walker to accommodate local filmmakers seeking to rent out production space.

Black Pigeon Studios LLC first opened in September 2021 at 342 Market Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids, offering affordable space for rent to shoot short films and music videos as well as host photo shoots and events. The company recently moved out of the Market Avenue space before its planned move to an industrial building at 2648 Three Mile Road NW in Walker. The new location is three times the size of the company’s first location, said Black Pigeon Studios co-founder Josh Sikkema.


“Black Pigeon Studios is more of a rental space than it is a production company,” Sikkema said. “We are looking to bring films to Michigan and serve as a resource to content creators and videographers.”

Sikkema is 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 major in broadcasting,” Sikkema said. “I didn’t have any resources and (there was) nowhere for me to shoot. The next best option for me was renting studios, but they are not affordable.”

The Walker Planning Commission on Nov. 2 will consider Black Pigeon’s request for a special exception use permit to move into the industrial building on Three Mile Road. The floorplan filed with the city proposes two indoor studios, a kitchen and large indoor staging area totaling about 6,050 square feet.

Indian Creek Place LLC is listed as the owner of the industrial site. Black Pigeon Studios hopes to eventually purchase the property, Sikkema said.

Black Pigeon Studios’ Grand Rapids location had issues with heating and lacked a proper sound environment, Sikkema said. The new location will require minimal changes to convert into a movie studio, and company officials hope to move in at the end of November or beginning of December this year, Sikkema added.

Sikkema spent the past nine months in search of a new location for Black Pigeon Studios, and he immediately reached out to the property owner after the Walker location was listed, he said.

“We took a heavy loss all last year, but we believe in the mission and these are all of our dollars,” Sikkema said. “We are very grassroots and looking to partner with nonprofits. We’re really excited about this project because I’m originally from Grand Rapids. When I left for Los Angeles, my whole goal in life was being able to bring it back full circle. I’m bringing them what I want and wish I had here.”

The plan is to rent out the new space similar to how the original Black Pigeon Studios location operated, and the company founders aim to bring films and major projects back to Michigan, said Sikkema, who is also an advocate of bringing back film incentives to the state. 

Black Pigeon Studios plans to work with Walker-based FCF Drywall LLC and Isle Construction LLC on the buildout of its new studio.

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