Lights, Camera, Action!

Lights, Camera, Action!
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Spray Foam Magazine – Fall 2022 – New England has had ties with the silver screen dating back to classics like Jaws, The Thomas Crown Affair, and The Departed. This hub of movie activity is once again rearing its proud head as the filming location of recent movies like Hocus Pocus 2 and Don’t Look Up. There has since been confirmation of a film production facility opening in Foxborough, Massachusetts — and spray foam has a starring role.

Spray foam was the chosen insulation for this large project primarily because the studio heads felt that it was the most economic way to get the old metal building up to an R-30 value.

Anchor Insulation, owned by SPF industry veteran Eric Fiske, was started by his father, Fred Fiske, as a small piping insulation business back in the 1980s. After thousands of projects, Anchor Insulation grew into one of the largest insulation contractors in New England. Operating from branches in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, they not only spray large commercial builds such as power plants, schools, freezer facilities and hospitals, but residential builds too. With such a variety of insulation skills, the company has established an impressive reputation. The diverse team includes a full-time architect, certified spray foam technicians, OSHA Outreach Instructor, Industry Certified Spray Foam Insulation Project Manager, in-house spray foam quality control, and a HPIP committee member. It’s easy to see why they were recommended to spray this film production facility.

The renovations on the movie studio located next to Gillette Stadium will consist of at least two soundstages to shoot both movies and TV shows. The space was once a truck terminal warehouse owned by the Kraft Group (also owners of the New England Patriots). The Kraft family is thrilled to hear about the new use of the warehouse. Red Sky Studios has been working on movies across Massachusetts and Rhode Island for several years, starting out as movie set lighting experts. They have already had major studios interested in shooting their movies there and are currently finalizing the first contracts with potential projects set to start shooting in the new studio as early as this Fall.

David Cambria founded Red Herring MPL Inc. in 1998 primarily as a lighting and film production equipment service rental. Cambria and his business partner Frans Weterrings started Red Sky Studios, LLC in a space in Boston in 2014 as a small commercial studio for smaller scale projects and have since recorded hit streaming shows in addition to major movies. This building was already retrofitted as a stage when they took it over. Cambria pointed out, “With the success of the Massachusetts film tax credit over the past 10 years, there has been a lot more production in the area. They have eliminated the sunset clause on the Massachusetts Production Incentive program to make it permanent. This has opened the door to build infrastructure and for studios to plan ahead with more certainty, and budget longer term, multi-season productions. Where they need lots of stage space to build sets enables us to do this larger space for Red Sky Studios.”

Cambria went on to explain why they chose spray foam insulation, “This metal building has never been insulated. It was an economic way to get us up to an R-30 value. One of the biggest challenges with these old metal buildings is climate control. When we start doing climate control in there, it would be inefficient to start pumping air conditioning into a metal building in the heat of July. The other advantage is that it also helps with the sound dampening. Doing any of this with other insulation would have taken a lot longer and more effort. We are trying to get our first project in here for the summer.”

Half of the warehouse space will be converted into offices and 66,000 sq.ft. will be converted into multiple studios, which would suggest there could be several running at the same time. There were several other buildings in the vicinity that were knocked down, so there is the potential to expand even further.

After the SPF installation was complete, a black tinted intumescent fire retardant paint and thermal barrier was applied over it to get the desired look that the studio was after. Season 2 of the HBO Max series, Julia , will be the first shoot at the Red Sky Studios facility.

Doug Whyte is the Program Manager at Anchor Insulation and we spoke with him about the project. David Cambria, the CFO of Red Sky Studios also happens to live in Whyte’s hometown. Whyte clarifies how the spray foam project was given to Anchor Insulation, “A good customer of ours knew of this potential project and put us in contact with David Cambria. It turns out that Anchor had sprayed David’s house previously, so he knew our work already. Our mutual connection put me in contact and after meeting up, we discussed the scope of the job and what they were trying to achieve.”

The Anchor Insulation crew pulled their truck right up to the facility’s loading docks to install both closed-cell and open- cell foam to 66,000 sq.ft. of ceiling and 15,000 sq.ft. of wall.

The building is metal without any insulation on the walls or the ceiling, and the studio wanted to create an insulated, heated, and conditioned area to set up these movie sets. One of the other major factors is sound. Whyte goes on to explain, “They are trying to create a big dark room where they can introduce whatever lighting they want. We discussed open-cell versus closed-cell foam with closed-cell being the rigid product not ideal for sound, due to reverberation. He also had a little concern about a vapor barrier on the roof. We ended up settling on 2 inches of SES’s Nex Seal 2.0 LE Closed-Cell Foam applied directly to the roof deck with five inches of SES EasySeal.5 open-cell over it, trying to keep it at the R-30 level. On the walls, we sprayed 5.5 inches of open-cell. He was pleased with the insulation factor and the sound deadening qualities of the open-cell. They are also going to be putting a new skin on the building, but they are waiting for the materials to arrive.”  

The Anchor Insulation crew arrived in their rig with two Graco H-25 proportioners. There were two sprayers and one crew member helping with the hoses all in the correct PPE, including supplied air, and fall protection. They started off by removing the fiberglass insulation that was on the walls. There were areas of the building that had significant holes which were covered with ¾ inch rigid urethane board because the crew didn’t want rain coming through onto the open-cell. Once the board was installed, the crew started spraying over it.

The building had 66,000 sq.ft. of ceiling and 15,000 sq.ft. of walls sprayed. With the crew only having to spray the top 14ft of the walls. The bottom 10ft will be studded and possibly filled with either mineral wool or open-cell foam, which is yet to be determined. During the process of building movie sets and then tearing them down, there is a lot of fork truck traffic and staging things against the walls, so the structure needs to be sturdy. Therefore, the crew placed plywood over the top. The crew used H-25 Proportioners, Graco AP Fusion Guns, a John Deere 60 KW generator and a Kaiser Rotary Screw Compressor with Bullard Fresh Air System.

At the time of print the project was nearly finished. With the crew already completing the closed-cell and roof line and just about to start on the open-cell. After all the foam is installed, the crew will then paint everything with DC315 tinted black, because the movie studio wants the entire build black.

The benefits of SPF for this job were superior insulation and sound dampening, the perfect choice for what the client wanted to achieve.

The first confirmed shoot at the new Red Sky Studios is season 2 of the HBO Max series, Julia. The series is inspired by the life of Julia Child and her long-running cooking show The French Chef. Much like Julie Child’s mastery of baking, when both open- and closed-cell spray foam are applied in the correct way, and for a specific reason, the outcome is perfect, goes down well, and leaves everyone with happy faces and feeling satisfied.  

By: Danielle Macdonald on Sep 29, 2022
Categories: Foam Systems
Tags: commercial applications, spray foam magazine, Fall Issue 2022
Issue: Fall Issue 2022

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