HBG Design Master Plan Envisions Memphis’ BLP Film Studios

HBG Design master plan envisions Memphis’ BLP Film Studios, proposed to be the second largest African American-owned film studio in the U.S.

Master planned by HBG Design, the proposed 85-acre, multi-building BLP Film Studios complex in the Whitehaven area of Memphis, Tennessee, is being developed by entrepreneur Jason Farmer and his team at BLP Film Studios, LLC as the future home of the second largest African American-owned film studio in the U.S.

Located near world-famous Graceland on an undeveloped intersection of Elvis Presley Boulevard and Holmes Road, the BLP Film Studios lot will accommodate a multitude of sound stages for film and television, a hotel for out-of-town production crews, an event center, administration offices, recording studios, editing and post-production suites, a mill shop, buildings for prop storage, a commissary, a gift shop and housing for production staff.


HBG Design team leaders, Mark Weaver, FAIA, Principal, and Carmen Fluellen, Planning and Architecture, discuss the project:

Why is this project important?
Mark Weaver: The BLP Film Studios project is the vision of entrepreneur Jason Farmer. Jason recognizes that there is a huge pent-up demand in the small film industry and the African American filmmaking community especially, for studio and production space. His son is a film student, so the challenge is close to him. With its creation, the BLP Film Studios project would give studio access to an unmet market niche across all sectors of Film/TV/Streaming and Media, including smaller budget filmmakers that help bring underrepresented films to the public. BLP will also boost Memphis economically, by bringing national businesses and production companies to our city.

How did HBG Design become involved with the BLP project?
Mark Weaver: Jason and his BLP partners have benchmarked studios across the country and have a solid vision for their Memphis located studio project. To advance his concept, Jason was seeking a planning and design team with experience designing large entertainment complexes and hotels. HBG Design was fresh from our work at Graceland, where we completed the Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Center, the Exhibition Center and The Guest House at Graceland™ Resort, which each feature several sound stages. We have designed theaters, event centers and exhibit centers and offer a nationally recognized specialization in hotel design. We are also headquartered here in Memphis with strong ties to the community. These were all major selling points for Jason and his team when selecting HBG Design.

How did HBG Design develop the master plan?
Carmen Fluellen: Mark and I worked closely to understand Jason’s project vision, and then went to work on the building massing to make the best use of the site. I modeled the solution with the proposed program elements to develop the final master plan illustration. This really helped the BLP leaders and the project team envision the program on the site, and bring the vision to life.

The hotel, event center, administration, commissary, and security buildings are placed around the main entrance, and the sound stages and production buildings sit beyond those to allow for phased expansion. The site boundaries and the overall site flow was set by the adjacent neighborhoods, the existing intersecting utilities, and naturally occurring drainage. Because of the need for water retention ponds, we master planned a landscaped lake environment with fountains and water features between the campus structures. The hotel, event center and the outdoor event space and dining are planned to overlook the lake.

Our master plan preserves all existing greenery around the site, including a 35-foot natural buffer that exists between the adjacent neighborhood and the back lot buildings such as the mill shop and stage productions.

What will the BLP project mean for the community?
Carmen Fluellen: We formed the master plan to suit BLP’s and the Whitehaven community’s needs, making an intricate site work for the large-scale studio infrastructure and buildings, while preserving landscaping that will help beautify the area.

Whitehaven is my hometown neighborhood, and Jason Farmer is also a Whitehaven alum. The BLP Film Studios, LLC project is a positive step forward for the area, and presents an opportunity for further Whitehaven redevelopment, improvements and job creation, potentially forming a locational synergy with nearby Graceland©. There is a buzz generated locally that speaks to longevity, which is exciting for all those involved in and around the project.

We look forward to the BLP Film Studios project advancing in the months to come!

The Project Team:
HBG Design – Planning & Design
The Reaves Firm – Engineering Consultant
Montgomery Martin - Contractor
NuDev - Development Consultant