There’s no doubt that Ocean10 Studios has the potential to make big things happen in the local creative community.
But the ability to reach the facility’s full potential?
“It’s really a work in progress,” said facility manager Jay Burgess.
The 27,000 sq. ft. studio, located at the corner of Mr. Joe White Avenue and Seaboard Street, was designed to serve as a recording facility, movie set, photo studio and conference center.
Started in 2004, the facility began as project by building owners Tommy & Harry Bryant, a father and son whose electrical supplies company owned many warehouses of similar size.
In just over a year, the Bryants put around $1.5 million into developing the building’s lobby, conference area, studio and other accommodations before backing off on the project due to financial concerns.
Myrtle Beach Music: The lobby at Ocean10 Studios
After sitting dormant for about two years, the project started up again and in 2009 it was announced that Ocean10 Studios — with actor/producer Steve Teachout as president — would open as a satellite for the Baltimore production facility of the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company.
According to a June 5, 2009, release from the Myrtle Beach Regional Development Corporation the $2.8 million facility was expected to bring in 15 jobs to the community.
“We’re very excited to have this new business come to Myrtle Beach and to provide our
residents with new job opportunities,” Mayor John Rhodes said in the release. “We believe Ocean 10 Studios and its productions will bring national recognition to Myrtle Beach and all that
we have to offer.”
However, the project once again got caught up in financial issues and was fully finished.
It was at that time that Burgess, who had been working for Ocean10 since 2008 saw an opportunity and took it.
“Tommy had hired me as a contractor, not knowing that I was actually an audio engineer and technical person as well,” said Burgess.
The jack-of-all-trades — who lists contractor, audio engineer and video editor among his skills — took over managing the building more than a year ago and has since done his best to support the project financially through recording, photo shoots and video shoots.
During this time, he has also taken on the monumental task of finishing the studio’s construction alone.
“I’m doing all the work myself. I don’t have any contractor help,” said Burgess. “I’m doing all the electrical, all the wires, everything. There’s really nothing I don’t do.”
Still making music
Myrtle Beach Music: Burgess' drum rig sits in Ocean10 Studios recording studioAlthough only a part of overall plan for Ocean10, the facility’s recording studio is one of its strongest areas and one of the best-kept secrets in town for recording audio.
The roughly 800 sq. ft. area, while not overwhelming in its features would be more than accommodating for most area acts. It’s true value, however, lie withing the wealth of experience behind the boards.
Burgess, a longtime drummer and audio engineer, recorded more than 2,000 tracks and about 300 albums with his former venture, Little Boss Studios. In 10 years in Myrtle Beach he worked with some of the area’s best talent including B-1NZ, Tru Sol, Painted Man and Flick-It, recording everything from hip-hop and gospel to punk and metal.
“I’ve recorded everybody around here,” says Burgess.
Since making the move to Ocean10 Burgess has managed to continue recording amidst his other facility duties and just finished working with local reggae group Treehouse putting together the band’s debut album which will release June 18.
But even with a fully-functioning studio on site, Burgess makes sure to point out the larger under-construction recording area on the other side of the facility.
“This one isn’t set up like a big studio. That’s still to come,” he said.
Myrtle Beach Music: Burgess shows off his workshop in the facility's warehouse
Beyond the booth
In addition to the studio setup, Ocean10 has a multi-purpose room which is designed to hold dance studios, recitals and music showcases.
He also plans to equip the nearly-finished room for live video shoots and special parties.
Beyond the recording facilities are a bevy of other useful areas including a green room, hair & makeup area, a stylish lobby area, a conference room, a workshop room and two large, warehouse-like open spaces which Burgess uses to facilitate photo and video shoots.
These areas, which also house a sizable workshop for constructing sets, have been used by local photographers Matt Silk and Clifton Parker, escape artist Chad Netherland, and Wilmington production company DV3 to name a few.
“I do a lot of specialty work. It’s mostly about facilitating whatever someone might need,” said Burgess.
He believes the facility’s true potential lies in its ability to become virtually anything an aspiring filmmaker, photographer or musician might need on a given day.
“I’m trying to make a haven for artists,” says Burgess.
Myrtle Beach Music: Burgess does business on his cell phone in the workshop room at Ocean10 Studios.
The battle of the business
Though the freedom of running the facility can be a rewarding for a DIY guy like Burgess, he says the facility’s financial situation remains less than ideal.
“We’re stuck in a way,” he said. “I’ve got the building indefinitely, but we don’t have the funds to market it and buy all the tools the place needs.”
Burgess says that while he’s not discouraged by the situation, balancing decisions about what to invest in to grow the business and how to best spend his time can be tricky.
“My interest in this place is completely sweat equity,” he said. “Even when we don’t have the right tools I can find a way to build pretty much anything given enough time, but it does take time to build stuff.”
Still, he believes there’s business potential in looking out for independent filmmakers, movie producers and video producers.
“We’d like to service the people who may not have the money to go to Screen Gems to film or go to Charleston,” Burgess said.
He hopes that by remaining affordable, over time Ocean10 will begin to serve a volume of customers that can help get the facility to where it needs to be.
“My motto is I don’t want to charge a photographer $10,000 to shoot per day. I want to charge 100 photographers $100 per day,” he said. “But that can be tough when you’ve got infrastructure this big.”