YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown native has returned to the city with big plans.
Film producer Michael Anthony Forney, Jr. is planning to turn an old steel plant into a new film studio right in Youngstown.
“My full hope, to let the world know that there’s some great entertainment down here,” Forney said.
Forney has produced plays all over the region, including at the Deyor, Powers Auditorium, Columbus Palace Theater and Packard Music Hall, to name a few.
“One thing led to another. The theater came for years. To this day, I love theater; but about three or four years ago, I started to get into the television atmosphere,” he said.
Forney is in the process of raising $1.5 million to purchase the property as well as fully renovate it. He says getting this space is just another piece to a puzzle he has already begun placing together.
“I have a film crew of like, you know 8 to 10 guys. Now, you know, my set builders who build my sets for my plays, there’s like 15 of them. I have all of my scripts, I have actors from all over… The only thing missing was the infrastructure,” he said.
He says he already has projects in place for when the studio is ready.
He feels there is great talent and opportunity in Youngstown, and that’s why he decided to come back.
The building used to be Republic Steel and is located on East Federal Street.
Since the steel mills closed down in the 70s, there have been many buildings left vacant in the city. Forney’s plan is to put the building to new use and says he is open to working with other film producers in the area.
“We’ve studied the market, and we knew that it was something that needed to be done… and this also sets the bar for those independent producers and directors and writers all over the area, outside of Youngstown and inside of Youngstown to really hone in on their craft ” he said.
Some of the space will be used for indoor sets and other parts will be used for screenwriting and production.
His goal is to be in full production by 2020.
“I’m back.. And we’re bringing the complete, the whole entourage,” he said.