Articles >

From Cars To Stars, Kirby Studios Handles Every Production Need

The StageOne “Can” provides crew and clients comfortable break space away from the stage. It is fully equipped with all state of the art technology and full kitchen. Kirby Studios also has similar areas in StageTWO and StageTHREE. Photo courtesy of Kirby Studios.

Productions that require a studio for their commercial or film needs require a space that is going to not only work for the production’s needs, but allows for efficient load in and out, provide the best lighting and sound support, and have staff who can accommodate any need.  Cue Kirby Studios.  The Los Angeles based facility offers more than just a selection of stages: they offer a complete customer service experience.   Variety 411 recently spoke with Marilyn Kirby, co-owner of Kirby Studios, to learn more about what sets them apart from their competition.

Variety 411:  According to Kirby Studios website, your stages are for “cars and stars”.   Are there elements of your studios, for example specific lighting and ramps, which make loading or presenting an automobile easy, efficient and extremely professional?

Marilyn Kirby:  Our background comes from the car prep support industry, so based upon our experience, we made sure our stages are more than just car friendly with car carrier sized load in doors, high ceilings for lightbox clearance, large radius cycs, smooth load-bearing concrete floors and high security protocols. Besides that, we have car sized lightboxes, large flying flats, a car capable motion control turntable and a high capacity vehicle lift and easy access to all the tools of car prep. However, our stages are not just for cars.  We recently added a smaller stage equipped with a 1-wall cyc for fashion and tabletop shoots and a mid-sized 2-wall cyc suitable for large products as diverse as motorcycles and refrigerators.   We haven’t forgotten about people either, with amenities for clients and crew.   We’ve developed a creative and functional environment for cast, crew and clients to work and relax through our innovative use of shipping containers we call the “cans”- they are client areas that include office spaces, lounges, conference rooms and fully equipped kitchens.

411:  Kirby Studios is listed as a “state-of-the-art” facility. In addition to the Cans, what are some additional innovations you’ve implemented that make shooting in your stages up-to-date and efficient?

MK:  Our movable stage walls in stageONE, which allows for easy access or simple changing of hero vehicles without having to move lighting set ups is one. Another is our compact campus with maximized use of space while providing the optimum shooting spaces.

411:  Are their green and blue screen stages that will accommodate a director’s VFX needs?

MK:  All of our stages are cyc stages and our standing color is white. To accommodate green and blue screen, we recommend using rags as the most cost effective method.

411:  What are the things you are doing to improve your sound qualities that keep you at the cutting edge?

MK:  We are constantly looking at where the business is heading.   To that end, we are always looking to improve and upgrade our facility and amenities based upon client needs and changes in the industry. We are primarily a MOS studio, however many productions have shot various sound related live action sequences at our stages. We have plans to further mitigate sound intrusion, but not to become a total sound stage.

411: Does your staff like to get involved with a director’s pre-production process to ensure all their needs are accommodated the moment they step foot in the studio?

MK:  We are always available for tech scout and pre-pro meetings. It definitely helps to know what is expected so that we can be prepared as well as make suggestions to “get the shot”, and keep the budget in line. However, in today’s economy, many times the tech and pre-pros are cut down and things have to happen “on the fly”. We have tried to anticipate some of those situations by having an array of equipment on-site. For instance, our turntable is pre-built and has a smooth top and is able to be moved into position quickly. We have a vehicle lift onsite, for an undercar shot, and we have lightboxes and various size flying flats in inventory, ready to hang. Our sister company, LA Prep, is right across the street, ready to assist in any way: from car prep supplies to a quick fabrication or repair job.

411: Can you tell us a little more about L.A. Prep?

MK:  L.A. Prep was started after Jim Kirby saw a need for professional vehicle prep support.  Today, it is one of the premier car prep companies in the advertising support industry, and has built a solid reputation for unparalleled performance over the last 30 plus years. L.A. Prep does it all, from simple vehicle prep, full fabrication to multi-car enclosed transports with our own fleet of purpose built car carriers. Our years of prep experience allows us to be a part of the production team and bring our background and expertise to help to save time and budget.

411:  Do you ever do cross over promotions for individuals utilizing your stages who may find a need for the L.A. Prep services too?

MK:  All the time. We provide special “combined” pricing for customers utilizing our prep services in conjunction with our studios. Even without the special combo pricing, it makes good economic sense for the client, as they save in transport and travel time costs since the studio is across the street from the prep operation, saving potentially hundreds (if not more) of budget dollars. More days and more vehicles, the saving can add up fast!

411:  When a crew enters the Kirby Studio environment, what can they expect to see, find, and experience? Do you try to have a “hands off” approach, or are you more geared towards creating a warm, inclusive environment, or both, depending on the needs of the director/producer/production?

MK:  We always try to provide an inclusive, friendly environment. If they don’t come in as friends, our goal is to make sure they leave as friends. Having said that, we try to read the client’s needs and assist where possible, and stay out of their way when we can’t help.

411:  I noticed you are dog-friendly. What inspired the decision to allow pets on set? Is it a decision you are grateful to have established?

MK:  Most of us have pets, or enjoy pets, so it was natural to allow dogs at the studio. Actually, a client asked if it was OK to bring her dog, and we said, “Why not!”  We have a nice grass area with trees outside the stage so it is a nice environment for the dogs as well.

To learn more about Kirby Studios, please visit: