By Maghan Hunt, Anderson Valley Post, December 2011
Chris Foxworthy, who dreams of a family-friendly movie studio at Stillwater Business Park, says he now has his eyes on two additional properties in Redding.
Foxworthy said he is exploring leasing or buying the Sharrah Dunlap Sawyer Civil Engineering building on Airport Road and the former KMS hair products manufacturing facility in the industrial park off Caterpillar Road — to lay a foundation
for a full-blown movie studio with four sound stages in the Stillwater Business Park.
Owners of the former KMS and Airport Road buildings could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Foxworthy, 60, is president and chairman of the board for Clarity Entertainment, which last month signed a nonbinding deal to pay $6.15 million for nearly 90 acres (half of lot 12 and all of lots 13, 14 and 15) in the 688-acre business park
in east Redding.
He says he envisions a Christian version of Hollywood with a host of ancillary businesses to provide transportation, training, technical expertise and cultural amenities that will allow Clarity Entertainment to produce feature films, episodic
programming for various networks as well as animated features and shorts while shuttling talent and investors directly to Redding via a charter airline that might one day offer commercial schedules.
While it may sound like pie in the sky, Foxworthy insists his company is backed by a large and growing number of Christian entertainers who have pledged up to $600 million to develop Clarity’s vision.
But he said nondisclosure agreements prevent him from naming his investors publicly.
The city is taking his plans seriously.
“We have met with their (Clarity’s) board of directors and talked to their financial people,” said Pat Keener, economic development liaison for the city. “From everything we’ve been able to learn, they appear to be a reputable company.”
Mark Lascelles, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Shasta County, said the EDC has been involved to a small extent with the offers at Stillwater and it, too, has looked into Clarity.
“We try to find out as much information as we can about them,” Lascelles said.
“We are treating it all as real until we see otherwise,” Lascelles said about the movie studio and Foxworthy’s offer. “It is a very big production that they are trying to create. We are trying to support their efforts to the best of our resources
Foxworthy said the first structure to be built at Stillwater would be a casting development office of 13,000 square feet on the southern half of Lot 12. A second building of 12,000 square feet would be used for set fabrication and equipment
storage, he said.
The overall concept, he said, is to build large sound stages with streetscapes and cityscapes on the exteriors that can double as backgrounds for exterior shots.
Construction on the first four sound stages could begin by next September if the city can fast-track approval of building plans, Foxworthy said.
Foxworthy said the Airport Road property would provide a base of operations for the company’s proposed digital animation studio. Its first product will be the animated portions of “Duggy.”
Duggy is a yellow DC-3 airplane that teaches children how to follow their dreams.
Mitch Carley, who created the Duggy character, said in an email Tuesday that Clarity will handle animations, but he couldn’t discuss details of the deal. Carley previously worked with Foxworthy on “Thunder Over Reno,” a short film featuring
Foxworthy as an actor.
The former KMS building in Redding’s Mountain Lakes Industrial Park would eventually grow to include two small sound stages, a recording studio, equipment storage facilities for location shooting, a screening room and executive offices, Foxworthy
said. It would house up to 150 employees when fully refurbished and expanded, Foxworthy said.
Foxworthy repeated several times that while he is intent on acquiring the two other properties, the main focus of Clarity Entertainment remains the development of studio facilities and ancillary businesses at Stillwater.
“It’s all part of the larger picture,” Foxworthy said. “We need to build credibility in the community first.”
Then the focus would shift to Stillwater and building the four sound studios planned for Lot 14. However, one of the things Foxworthy said he is waiting for is a plan to reroute flights near the Redding Airport.
As of now, Stillwater has failed every sound test Foxworthy and his engineers have conducted, he said. However, if Rod Dinger, airports manager for the city of Redding, is successful in getting FAA approval to reroute planes away from Stillwater,
then Foxworthy and his investors would be able to move forward with plans to acquire most or all of the business park, he said.
But Dinger said Tuesday the airport isn’t looking at rerouting flights. Rather, he said, discussions are under way considering the possibility of extending the departure distance for planes and on other minor moves that could reduce noise.
“There are some subtle things that one can do to improve the situation a little bit and if it has minimal impact, why wouldn’t we want to explore it?” Dinger said.
Nothing has been decided yet, he said.
“We’ve not committed to anything,” he said. “It’s just in a discussion mode right now.”
Dinger said Foxworthy’s project could increase both corporate and commercial traffic, which would benefit the airport and could lead to expansion in the future.
“It opens up many doors if it materializes,” he said.
“I have never had municipalities so willing to work together and figure out a solution,” said Foxworthy.
Reporter Sean Longoria contributed to this story.