Local content creator set to open production space

Former movie theater receiving major makeover
Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:15 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The vacant Lansing Mall movie theatre in Delta Township is empty, abandoned, and in need of a lot of work. But it is also a ray of promise for a comedian and content creator looking to build something special for his community.

“This is Lansing’s Wakanda,” said Amaru.

Amaru is Founder and CEO of Greenwood District Studios- a space for production projects, film festivals, and creatives.

“We’re going to shoot films and television, news and it’s going to be catered to the minority community because we don’t have that. We don’t have anything that speaks directly to our health, and our needs, about our wants, about our daily lives and this will be it,” said Amaru.

Right now, it’s a vision in his head, but soon it will be walls torn down and stages built up.

“We will have a recording and editing bay to edit everything, and then we will systematically start turning two more theatres into sound stages,” said Amaru as he showed News 10 the space.

He says there will also be a comedy club and several television shows. It’s a mountain of a task, but one Delta Township community leader Fonda Brewer feels it is not too big.

“It may look really big, but when you take it in pieces and chunks and when you have people behind you and with you and alongside of you who are willing to support you, then it can get done. So, his vision is contagious. When you sit down and spend a minute with him and he’s funny as all that. So, when you can get past the laughter, you really can see that 'this can happen, this is going to happen,” said Brewer.

When it becomes reality, Amaru hopes it will be a mecca of opportunity for youth of color. He’s brought on CEO of Lansing non-profit The Fledge, Jerry Norris, to help make sure of it.

“Black and brown people are going to get the opportunity to control the narrative to tell the story, to put it on film, to put it into sound and not having other people ‘well, we’ll just tweak the narrative then it’s going to be extremely powerful and extremely motivating,’” said Norris.

The name of the company and the address 921 Mall Drive pays homage to the 1921 massacre of black-owned businesses in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

There will be a tourist attraction of the former Greenwood District also in the space. Amaru says a portion of their proceeds will go back to the community. They will be recruiting for job positions in the future.

The plan is to overhaul the exterior first so it can be opened to the public for drive-in movies starting in May. As of now, the goal is to have the space completely finished by 2022.

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