Terry Martin, former Hart County judge-executive, is shown center with actors who have appeared in films made by the Southern Kentucky Film Commission. He recognized them during a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 15, 2019 for Bale Studios, a film studio that will be constructed on East Main Street in Horse Cave.

Construction has yet to begin on Bale Studios, a film studio that is to be built on a tract of land along East Main Street in Horse Cave.

But preparation for the construction of the film studio has started.

“They are still getting all of their permits and doing all of that kind of stuff right now,” said Coni Sheppard, president of the Southern Kentucky Film Commission.

Soil samples have also been taken at the construction site, she said.

The film studio is a project that actor/producer/director Branscombe Richmond and Jerry Embree with Hawaii-based PanPacific Studios are partnering together to do.

It is being built on land once owned by the Ken Bale family, which has deep roots in Hart County.

The Bale family donated the land to the film commission with the purpose of it being used as a location for the film studio.

The film commission began discussing the possibility of a land donation with the Bale family about four years ago, and the family agreed to donate the site along East Main Street, which is where a tobacco warehouse once stood.

A ground breaking ceremony for the film studio took place in August 2019.

It was during the ceremony that Embree said he thought the property could accommodate three stages and that the first stage would probably be 12,000 to 13,000 square feet.

There are three incentives ranging from 30 to 35 percent that are available to film production companies if they do their projects in Kentucky.

At one time, the tax incentives were refundable, which made Kentucky competitive with other states for films.

There is a possibility that the incentives could once again become refundable, and Shepperd and others are hoping it will happen.

Kentucky Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, represents District 21 of the Kentucky House of Representatives, which is composed of Hart, Metcalfe, Monroe and a portion of Hardin counties.

“If the governor proposes restoring some or a portion of the film incentives in his budget then I think it has a chance to stay in the legislative budget,” Rowland said. “If he leaves it out of his budget, it makes it a tougher sell to our colleagues.”

Gov. Andy Beshear is expected to deliver his budget during the State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 28.

Richmond and Embree already have five film production companies interested in doing projects at the studio, and there is a possibility that more production companies will come to Horse Cave to do their projects.

Shepperd and others with the film commission recently traveled to Los Angeles for a convention regarding locations for film projects.

“There was a lot of interest in people coming here,” she said. “They didn't commit. I sent a lot of pictures. I sent out a lot of information to them. It seems promising that they will come.”

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