A sod turning ceremony was held Monday in Niverville, officially kickstarting construction on a state-of-the-art film and television studio village.

Last March, Volume Global and Julijette Inc. announced the development of Jette Studios, a studio village that will go up at the corner of Wallace Road and Provincial Road 311. Dignitaries were on hand Monday morning to officially turn the sod on this multi-million-dollar project.

Juliette Hagopian is founder of Julijette Inc. She says setting up in Manitoba offers several benefits, including the best tax incentives, direct flights between Los Angeles and Winnipeg and being located in one of the fastest growing communities in Canada. 

Initially, phase one of this project was expected to start last summer. Hagopian offered an explanation on Monday as to the reason behind the construction delay.

"It just takes a long time to finance," she says. 

And now that the financing has gone through, construction is officially underway.

Hagopian says another reason for the delay is because of a change in design. She notes originally, they were planning for a pop-up type facility. However, she notes after making the initial announcement they did a lot more research and discovered that one of the challenges was that even with a heated floor, it would probably get too cold inside that facility during the winter months. Hagopian says that pushed them towards a solid building and something that could last 100 years.

Artist rendition of the new movie studio to be built west of NivervilleA billboard welcoming visitors into Niverville shows the artist rendition of the new movie studio to be built west of town.

Phase one of this project involves construction of a 25,000 square foot studio. Hagopian says she is hopeful that it will be built by January. Once completed, it will include a sound stage with a large, state-of-the-art, 360-degree LED wall, that will be capable of producing both theatrical releases and television.

In total, Hagopian says she has up to 20 acres available to her. She says at some point they will build housing on the property, noting these films will be bringing in writers, directors, producers, executives, actors and crews to Niverville.

Consultant Gord Daman says this truly is a unique campus and something that cannot currently be found anywhere else in Canada. 

"I just applaud what Juliette has done," says Daman. "The community is walking alongside to mitigate that risk as much as possible, to make sure it's a huge success."

Daman says this campus is for all of Manitoba.

"Today's announcement will go down, I am convinced, in history as a tipping point for the community," says Daman. "This is a significant milestone. It's not hyperbole, it's absolutely true and that's thanks to Juliette."

Gord Daman (left), Juliette Hagopian (centre) and Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck stand in front of construction machinery at sod turning on MondayGord Daman (left), Juliette Hagopian (centre) and Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck stand in front of construction machinery at the sod turning on Monday

"It's a great day," adds Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck. "While it has taken a while, starting construction of this multi-million-dollar studio will help bring hundreds of jobs to Niverville. Jette Studios Inc., by investing in our vibrant community, is helping fuel future growth."

Dyck says the investment that Hagopian is making in Niverville will propel the community forward. He adds it will establish business opportunities, spark housing growth and create hundreds of jobs. 

Not only that, but Dyck says he is also hopeful that high school students in their community will be able to tap into this resource. 

"I look forward to seeing what we can do to bring vocational opportunities in the film industry to our school here in Niverville," he says. "And opportunities for our students so that we don't always have to leave Niverville but that these students can stay with their friends and study in a field that they are passionate about."

Hagopian says she cannot wait to see the completed studio and the benefits it will bring to Manitoba and the town of Niverville. She says future plans for the site include additional buildings to house production and post-production offices. 


With files from Adi Loewen