Explore GroundFloor Studios: Philly’s New, Accessible Production Studio
Imagine a space where individuals of all abilities and backgrounds come together to produce inspiring content and works of art. When you enter GroundFloor Studios in Philadelphia, you will find just that. Located within the iconic Philadelphia Building at Walnut and Juniper Streets, the GroundFloor Studios was recently established as a versatile creative space, complete with a studio, control room, and classroom. People of all ages, cultures, and levels of artistic experience are invited to explore what GroundFloor has to offer, as accessibility is the team’s main mission with this space.
GroundFloor Studios was developed through a partnership of ChatterBlast and Big Picture Alliance (BPA), Philadelphia-based organizations in the digital media industry that are devoted to providing technological learning opportunities to the community. This was not an unlikely partnership; the companies aligned on many values and the idea of establishing a creative space for young people and giving them access to tools, mentorship, and industry advice inspired both parties. Creating GroundFloor Studios together allowed the companies to further their missions, learn from one another, and combine resources and client bases for this project.
GPA had the opportunity to tour the new studio and chat with members of the ChatterBlast and Big Picture Alliance teams, including ChatterBlast Co-Founder and CEO Evan Urbania and BPA Executive Director Alexs Martray. The companies and their employees are passionate and devoted to promoting inclusion and accessibility, elements that were clearly reflected in the creation and implementation of GroundFloor Studios.
As someone with no background in visual art or media, I had no idea what kind of space I was walking into. What I found was a welcoming environment and a modern, soundproof, and outfitted studio right in the middle of the bustling city. Colin Pawlowski of ChatterBlast shared that it was their goal to make the space unintimidating, so that people with any level of experience feel comfortable using it. It is also versatile and can be adapted for uses ranging from shooting photoshoots to music videos, filming podcasts to advertising campaigns.
GroundFloor Studios soft opened in June. Then, with the official launch in late October, which had Mayor Jim Kenney in attendance, the team “turned on the marketing machine,” as Evan Urbania put it. In spreading the word about the space, the team made efforts to showcase people and the way the studio can be accessible to all, rather than focusing on the glamour or expensive technological equipment available. They were sure to emphasize how there is a deeper story to the space than just what you see; there is a community built around it, in which young talents and creatives from any background can connect with one another, build portfolios, and interact with industry professionals. These opportunities prepare students for future involvement in digital media or art programs.
One of my favorite facts I learned was that the name of the production studio has a double meaning: the location is accessible, as it is on the ground floor of the building, but it also reflects the idea of building from the ground up. ChatterBlast and BPA worked together to develop the space into what it has become, and it now allows artists and students to get a start and launch their careers. During my tour, ChatterBlast’s Kyle Krajewski shared that the idea started years ago with a small video service, and Evan Urbania later exclaimed, “I actually can’t believe we built this thing!”
I found the educational efforts of the companies to be particularly inspiring, and I even got the chance to sit in on a photography class. The classroom is located directly across from the studio space so that students have access to whatever they need, and it is organized in a way that promotes discourse and visual inspiration. Aleks Martray took me into the classroom to see a former alumni of BPA’s programs, Sam Austin, running the weeks-long photography workshop that focuses on visual storytelling through the use of technical skills and creativity. Students were preparing for their final project: a presentation of a photo portfolio to industry professionals. The students described how they were selecting their favorite photos to showcase, in order to receive advice and experience the pitching process. I was even lucky enough to get a sneak peek of their creative shots.
As they continue to showcase the importance of this space for young creatives, the ChatterBlast and BPA teams are also highlighting their intentions to keep adapting in order to maintain promotion of diversity, equity, and accessibility for all. Everyone involved with GroundFloor Studios is committed to helping propel creatives, no matter their background, to reach their full potential, a truly impressive and innovative mission. Such a space and business provides new avenues for community connection and progress in Philadelphia.