Warehouse in Somerville now available to VMA majors

At the Emerson Prop Warehouse in Somerville, items ranging from old televisions to gladiator shields pile from the floor to the ceiling.

The warehouse, which has been in Somerville for the past three years, is available to all students aiming  to rent props for their productions. It, starting this fall, will also feature a soundstage for visual and media arts and theatre design and technology students wanting to practice set design.

The warehouse is about a 30-minute train ride from Emerson’s Boston campus on the orange line and is located off the Sullivan Square stop.

This space is primarily for visual and media arts and performing arts majors who concentrate in design. Generally, it will be kept for larger productions that can use the space, according to Chair of the Department of Visual and Media Arts Brooke Knight. The Visual and Media Arts Department will approve what they deem to be an appropriate production to rent out the space.

The soundstage is large enough for a studio set to be built for productions.

Soundstages are usually soundproof spaces on which films or television shows can create sets to film on.

According to Knight, the soundstage in the Paramount Center is constantly in high demand. The warehouse in Somerville will be used as a second location for students wanting to shoot their productions and work on set design.

While there is no definite completion date, Knight said productions will continue to rent out the space as renovations continue.

One production has used the soundstage so far, and two more are set to rent it in the spring.

The space now has a floor with proper tap-in and security cameras to ensure the safety of students within the building. Along with this, there will always be a supervisor on site, according to Knight. He and the rest of the Visual and Media Arts and Performing Arts departments are excited for what is to come.

“It is very much a raw space right now, but it allows students to have a much closer experience to shooting on location,” Knight said.

For those who are able to use the space, it is free to rent, but students must provide their own transportation.  

Dean of the School of the Arts Robert Sabal turned to Knight to see if he would be interested in transforming the warehouse space.

“Sabal came to me one day and thought that it might be suitable for productions,” Knight said.

According to Knight, there is a small woodshop area and basic equipment on site. This includes sandbags, grips, lighting scrims, and more. The Equipment Distribution Center will still need to provide cameras.

“We’re really excited to be able to use this space to give students the opportunity to think big,” Knight said.

To rent the soundstage, students must contact Visual and Media Arts Director of Production and Safety Lenny Manzo. While the prop portion of the warehouse is open to all students, the soundstage is only available to visual and media arts and theatre design students.

“The stage is nowhere near to being done, but by next semester we will have an inventory of the equipment available on location,” Knight said. “Over time we will start adding more equipment to the space to make it closer to a soundstage.”

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