I moved out to L.A. from the midwest in the early 90’s. After doing the typical L.A. grind like every newcomer I eventually ended up working for a fairly new studio called Smashbox Studios which was a sister company to Smashbox Cosmetics.
Essentially getting paid to learn at the the #1 photo studio in L.A. it was a dream job, and soon led me into assisting some of the most famous photographers in the world. The one thing that I found fascinating were these cool empty warehouses that people would rent as a location for a photo shoot typically with brick walls, beams, old rusty things, etc and I thought in my mind what a cool business that will always be needed.
So I began my search for the ultimate photo studio warehouse for rent. It took me one year and a half and I finally by chance met the owner of a massive rug factory just south of downtown la. The building was 50,000 square ft and he was looking for someone to rent out the top floor of his building for a business. It was used for excess rugs from the factory so when I first viewed it the whole place was filled with rugs. Chicken Wire on the windows. Lots of dust lots of spiderwebs.
But…it had these amazing 12ft floor to ceiling arching windows that all faced west so it got all the perfect daylight and sunsets.
This property was 3 times what i could afford, but I could envision turning this space into the ultimate 80’s New York loft style photo studio.
So I lied my way into the lease claiming I had sufficient income and after paying the deposit I had 7 dollars left in my bank account. I still had my job at Smashbox and was freelance directing on the side but I was still short about 700 a month from my actual income to pay rent.
By luck I booked a very low budget film 3 weeks into opening the studio as I advertised the location as abandoned warehouse on Cragislist.
I made 500 dollars in two days and just had enough to pay rent that first month.
Now 10 years later I have established H.Q. Avalon Studios as a premiere Daylight Loft Studio.
For the owner letting me do all this crazy madness upstairs I built him his first Cyc Stage in rug factory and they now have 5 massive studios in the entire building and have branded themselves as Studios60.
I am so fortunate to have come across this beautiful building when I did.
But to sit here and host so many talented artists who chose this location for their project I sit back and reflect on the dream I had one day of creating an iconic space in L.A.