About river oaks film studios
Rodney Dickey is a serial entrepreneur with over 35 years of experience in the warehousing and operations industry, and like most other serial entrepreneurs Dickey’s latest business venture is one that will not capitalize on a new market, but it will capitalize on the transition of an older market.
Throughout most his career, Dickey’s business ventures have focused on operations, production, manufacturing and distribution for companies like Spring Industries, Dan River, Thomaston Mills, The Bibb Company, JLA Home and his own; A&A Heritage turned OA Logistics and the current AA Heritage Solutions. In 2000, Dickey opened his first company, A&A Heritage, after the majority of the textile and manufacturing industry had moved overseas. “We started out in an old 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant in Reynolds, Ga. on money we borrowed from family,” remembers Dickey. It was while doing consulting work for JLA Home that they offered to buy his company with him acting as President where he was able to grow the company to over 4.5 million sq. ft. of operating space. The Mississippi-native relocated to Savannah in 2010 and brought two of those major warehouses to Savannah; home to the nation’s fourth-largest container port. During his tenure with the company, Dickey spoke on panels at Georgia Foreign Trade Convention and the Georgia Manufacturing Convention, served as the keynote speaker for PPM Conference in Long Beach, CA, and won Walmart’s Distributor of the Year Award six years in a row. After 12 years in that position, he resigned and formed A&A Heritage Solutions, LLC. this past January and R. Dickey Enterprises, LLC., a real estate development company.
It was the expansion of AA Heritage Solutions, third-party supply chain solutions company, into a new building and a visit from one of his daughters that sparked the idea for the new endeavor. His youngest daughter, Allison, worked in the film industry in Los Angeles and came home to Savannah to visit him. The company she worked for called her about opening an office in Savannah. The more he researched the growing film industry in Savannah, the more he realized his opportunity to create a space that would offer production companies an alternative to studios in larger cities.
Now, his newest company, River Oaks Film Studios, focuses on a market new to the serial entrepreneur. But like most people with a passion to create solutions for industries or markets with needs, his lack of experience within that industry will not create barriers for him to provide over 150,000 sq. ft. of space where production companies can film television series and movies that may be more appealing and cost effective than larger cities like Hollywood, New York City, or even neighboring Atlanta.
"We are excited to add River Oaks Film Studios to Savannah's inventory of infrastructure for the growing entertainment industry in our region. The creation of this soundstage will bring even more productions to the Savannah area and help us reach the next level," said Beth Nelson, Executive Director of Savannah Area Film Office.
Georgia has seen a boom in film production since 2008 when new legislation offered 30 percent tax credits to production companies. In 2016, Savannah added a local film incentive that is offered on top of the state incentive to help grow the industry in the region. The film and television industry is responsible for more than 79,000 jobs, roughly $4 billion in wages and has helped bring 120 more films to Georgia in the last seven years (according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.) In 2015, the film and television industry was responsible for more than $58 million spend in the Savannah region. There is one other film studio in the city of Savannah, but River Oaks Film Studios will offer production companies different amenities including 6 sound stages that will house mill shops for the creation of props, office space for makeup and dressing rooms, and more. The space also boasts 29 ft. ceilings, silent air conditioning, sound proof studios and ample parking. Dickey will provide a base camp for crews, as well as truck parking with 24-hour security. The other studio is located in downtown Savannah, which Dickey says is “very beautiful setting,” but there are drawbacks such as limited parking.
Though, what his studio offers now is only the first phase of his plans for the River Oaks Films Studios. A 100,000 sq. ft. space will become available toward the end of 2017, which will give Dickey the ability to offer production companies a campus like setting with multiple buildings including all of the amenities of film studios in larger cities but more cost effective with tax incentives in place. The expansion will also further the stability for skilled workers to find full-time employment in the Savannah market by bringing in more jobs; something Dickey has done before when be brought the OA Logistics operations to Savannah and 250 jobs along with it.
Dickey’s newest business venture will also be a family affair as his two daughters will play vital roles in the success of River Oaks Film Studios. The girls grew up in Warner Robins; a town about three hours away from Savannah in middle Georgia. Allison, who has worked as a production assistant and in location management, plans on relocating from Los Angeles. She will act as liaison for the studio and the production companies. She will work with the writers and producers to find out their needs, to be sure Savannah’s newest film studio offers to them what they need. And the eldest of his two daughters, April, is a publicist in Tennessee, and will add to his latest business venture by offering to her father’s company the publicity it needs to help Savannah’s film industry grow. “I was 16 the last time I worked for my Dad at the plant in Reynolds. I loaded and unloaded trucks in the heat so I could pay for dance classes,” laughs April. “A far cry from what I’m doing now, but it taught me great work ethic and the discipline to get where I am today as an entrepreneur.”