If you build it

In a Hip Strip basement office on a recent afternoon, Seth Bloom, wearing a suit and tie, having just returned from a meeting with investors, launches a PowerPoint presentation on his MacBook Pro that begins with a slide that says, "Please be seated." Even before he shows the architectural mockups of the $70 million, 500,000-square-foot film and TV studio production complex Bloom envisions for Missoula, he oozes ambition.

Bloom is short, intense and articulate. He's an occasional actor (he produced, directed and starred in "Doubt" at the Crystal Theatre a few years ago) who began his career in Los Angeles. The entertainment industry is his passion, and he's trying to bring it to Missoula. He's making progress.

A few days earlier, he pitched his vision, which he calls Pimlico Studios, to Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who's championed Montana's tax incentives to help bring filmmaking to the state. Bloom says Schweitzer's "on board" with the concept—building infrastructure in Montana that's as attractive to filmmakers as the scenery. "The governor recited it in such a way as if it were lifted right out of the business plan," Bloom says.

Bloom has a buy-sell agreement in place for about 10 acres in the Missoula County Development Park, near the airport. He says he hopes to break ground there next year. The all-inclusive complex would include studios, sound stages that double as entertainment venues, a hotel, restaurants, offices, retail space, and covered parking, all connected by climate-controlled access ways. It sounds over the top—but it's not, Bloom says, when you consider the competition. He says it was his "genuine, painstaking task" to determine a size that would make a Missoula facility competitive with studios in other tertiary markets, such as Albuquerque.

Now Bloom's courting investors. One of his talking points is this: Over the last seven years, the state's missed out on nearly $1 billion in revenue for lack of a production facility, according to his own research and consultation with the Montana Film Office.

County Commissioner Jean Curtiss says she thinks Pimlico Studios could be a good fit for Missoula.

"Montana's always had the outdoor part of movies: We've got the scenery and the rivers and all of that stuff, so it'd be nice to be able to tie it all together," she says.

Does she think it's possible?

"Most dreams are possible if you have enough money."

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