LEXINGTON, Ky. — Lights, camera, action: a former movie theater in Lexington is looking to boost Kentucky's role in the entertainment industry.

What You Need To Know

  • LEX Studios is Kentucky's largest TV and film production space  

  • The studio and its parent company, Wrigley Media Group, are aiming to bring more TV shows and movies to Kentucky 

  • Kentucky offers a competitive tax incentive of 30-35% back on expenses for qualifying productions 

  • It took four years to transform LEX Studios from a movie theater into a production space

LEX Studios is the largest TV and film production facility in the commonwealth, with the goal of bringing more Hollywood productions to Kentucky. It has more than 50,000-square feet of space. 

As studio manager at LEX Studios, Tim Sabo wears many hats at once.

“Part receptionist, part janitor, general contractor, gaffer, grip and producer; it’s all of those combined," Sabo said.

LEX Studios has three soundstages, hair and makeup rooms and various office spaces. Sabo oversees efforts to attract productions to film in Kentucky and LEX Studios. 

A set remains from "Relative Justice," one of the first shows filmed at LEX Studios. (Spectrum News 1/Austin Schick)

He moved to the state from California with a long career in TV production, including working on "The Biggest Loser."

“I came out and looked at the environment," Sabo said. "(The) incentive that they have in place is incredible, and it just looked like a great opportunity to bring a lot of Los Angeles production to Kentucky."

Kentucky offers qualifying production creators a cash refund of 30-35% on certain expenses. 

Misdee Wrigley Miller, owner of LEX Studios and its sister company Wrigley Media Group, said it’s a competitive package and bringing more productions to Kentucky creates more jobs.

“Each name on that credit roll represents a job, and it’s a job that a Kentuckian can hold and a job set that can be easily trained from electricians to carpenters," Miller said.

The largest sound stage at LEX Studios is 5,750-square feet. (Spectrum News 1/Austin Schick)

Miller added the goal is to bring TV series, game shows and films to shoot in Lexington and other parts of Kentucky, as it's a much-needed space that pairs well with Kentucky's natural stage.

“We already have the greatest outdoor locations and the natural beauty of Kentucky," Miller said.

It took four years to transform the former movie theater into what Sabo and Miller described as "a living set." That means the whole building is equipped to be used for a scene.

“It’s great because it makes it easy to film, and it’s very cost-effective because they don’t have to move crews around and keeps costs down," Sabo said. "It’s one of the selling points of this facility."

LEX Studios also plans to partner with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and offer certification and internship educational opportunities.