An example of graffiti that is scrawled on the front landing of the building. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge film studio plagued by vandalism as owner waits to reopen

Ridge Studios’ doors closed March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

A Maple Ridge film company that has been hard hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic is suffering even more due to vandalism and attempted break-ins to its studio in the heart of downtown.

The Ridge Studios, located along 119th Avenue at 224 Street, has been closed since March 11.

And while owner John Wittmayer and studio liaison Alicia Albrecht wait anxiously for movie and television productions to begin again in Phase 3 of B.C.’s Restart Plan, the studio has been vandalized time and again.

Three windows have been smashed in the front alcove area along 119 Avenue in the past two months.

One of the windows even had a blowtorch used on it.

READ MORE: New Netflix series filmed at Maple Ridge film studio

A chain holding a metal gate at the back of the studio has been replaced four times during the same time frame.

And people have literally ripped out brackets from the wall trying to get the gate off.

Graffiti is scrawled all over the top of the landing at the entrance to the building.

And, said Albrecht, to top it off, she often finds needles by the front doors and human feces in their back parking lot and, she said, the area stinks like urine.

“I know the police do what they can,” said Albrecht, but she is frustrated because, she says, the perpetrators are just “shooed” away.

So far, she says, they have spent about $3,000 to $4,000 on windows alone and another $200 on chains and locks.

They are hoping to install at gate across the front of the studio, but that is going to cost them more than $3,000.

And that’s money they just don’t have right now, said Albrecht.

READ MORE: Film studio getting set up in downtown Maple Ridge

The Ridge Studios has had zero income since the pandemic hit.

There are production companies gearing up for filming, but they keep pushing their dates as they await a go-ahead from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Currently they have been contacted by four smaller low budget productions and one television series that is wanting to be in the studio filming for six months.

“They’ve booked. They’ve signed the contracts. They’ve literally just been waiting and pushing until it’s the time that’s most suitable for the circumstances,” said Albrecht.

In 2019, the Netflix murder mystery series The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco was filmed at the studio. Other titles since the studio opened in 2015 include: Beverly Hills 90210; Kindergarten Cop 2; and many made-for-TV movies.

If the studio is allowed to open its doors to productions soon, Albrecht thinks the studio will be able to bounce back.

However, if Stage 3 of the reopening plan doesn’t come soon, Albrecht says it could be a different story.

“If things don’t improve and we keep sitting in this stagnant situation where we are not really getting any ideas if the film industry is a go or not really a go, then it’s not going to do so well,” she said.

“There’s a lot of bills to pay for a building that’s 25,000 square feet.”


 

cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

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Alicia Albrecht with The Ridge Studios holds a chain at the back gate that has had to be replaced four times over the past two months. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

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