Riverside Studios, located near Downtown Riverside, allows businesses to rent out space and provides a large area for film production.
It began with the intent to create a hub in the Inland Empire for film production. Rickerby Hinds, the founder of Riverside Studios, felt that he should create more opportunities within this space. “We live 65 miles away from Los Angeles but a lot of students and other folks, who are in the Inland Empire, who want to go into this industry either have to move or shelve that dream or find somewhere else to go do it,” says Rickerby. He wanted to create a space that people could make films in on a regular basis and at the same time create opportunities for people to be in front of the camera as well as train behind the camera.
Finding the space itself had been a challenge. Rickerby tried first looking at what was at his disposal as a University professor. He wanted a location off campus ideally so that the community could have access. The first few locations did not work out either due to infrastructure issues or chemicals. And so he began a conversation with Riverside county’s economic development agency to find a space. They wanted to be a part of the space when it was found because of a previous project they had worked together on. But after about 2 years no space had been found. It wasn’t until after a meeting with a film producer in LA that led nowhere when Rickerby realized “no one was going to come from outside the IE with a million dollars to make this happen, it had to come from within.” So after driving around downtown Riverside looking for a spot he called the county and found the Animal Shelter. Small independent film companies had been using it as a spot for filming already. “When I came in and I got the chance to walk through the building, I was like this is it.”
It was perfect. It was forty-nine thousand square feet with office spaces and larger shooting spaces with 20 foot ceilings that can be altered and changed. There were smaller kennel spaces as well that could become smaller shooting areas. It’s on a dead end street so there’s no neighbors to disturb and a large parking lot in the back. “I almost felt like it was cheating by just the space being available because it’s ideal. There’s all these pieces to it that just make sense for what we’re doing here.”
The next part of the process was activating Riverside Studios so that filming in the region begins with this space. This has to do with the resident companies being present and doing their parts individually. The goal is to become the foundation for film, filmmaking, television, etc. in the area. Even if people don’t use the space they can still come and find others who can support or give advice for projects.
In addition to that, they aim to get Riverside Studios to a level that can bring filming from Los Angeles to the Inland Empire and rent space for a lower rate, as well as utilize the surrounding educational institutions to provide students with opportunities to serve as interns or production assistants. “The idea would be that filming in this space would be beneficial to folks from the outside because we can become an asset,” says Rickerby.
Riverside Studios officially launched in December 2019, a few months before the pandemic. The film industry has been hit hard by COVID restrictions and it’s very challenging to film if one can at all. The vision of Riverside Studios will continue despite these challenges. “It’s a matter of figuring out how to weather this part of the storm that we’re in, figuring out a way to make it to the point where filming is being allowed to happen again, because so much of what we’re looking to do is exactly that vision. We want to create a space where people can come and make films, create content. And so the fact that that exact thing is not is not able to take place is a difficulty. But I think we’ll come out of it. I think we’ll be creative in emerging out of this space that we’re in.”