Cameras are rolling in Dracut.
And you could be behind one of them.
Forty First Studios opened in July 2022 at Bridgewood Plaza, 1794 Bridge Street, Unit 31, providing Dracut with a space that folks can rent for their own photo or video shoots.
Forty First Studios is the brainchild of Mike Kesslak, Dan Emond and Gerry Vincent, and is also the home base of 41st Casanova Productions, the production company run by the same trio.
As Mike explained it, the three friends started their production company in 2014. By 2022, they wanted to create a space that they could use for photo and video shoots, while also sharing it with other artists in need of a creative space.
Thus, Forty First Studios was born.
“The goal for Forty First Studios has always been about building community,” said Mike, a former Dracut resident and 2010 Dracut High School graduate now living in Lowell with his wife, Kim. “People can come in and use it how they’d like. It’s not just ours — anyone can come in and create.”
Forty First Studios consists of two stories of spaces that can be adapted by whoever is using them.
The top level features spaces for podcasts; a custom, one-of-a-kind backdrop system and unique sound dampening panels for photo and video shoots; and areas to sit and brainstorm ideas.
Downstairs, Mike said, is “a completely different world” that features an “infinity wall” that creates the illusion of a much larger space. “It’s unlike anything else in the area,” he said, adding that, at 700 square feet, he believes it’s the biggest such wall north of Boston.
41st Casanova productions dates back to Mike’s college days at New England Institute of Art, when he and a friend, Wes Hogan, started making videos together. Wes, for whom the number 41 held emotional significance, fell ill and had to leave school return home for surgery. Mike carried on, adding “Casanova” to 41st Productions.
“We had a going-away party for Wes, and I promised him I’d make 41st Casanova something,” Mike said.
Nearly 10 years later, with a degree in Film and Media Production under his belt, Mike is still carrying the torch – and Wes remains a “huge supporter.”
41st Casanova continues to produce photo and video shoots. Recently, the Dracut space hosted a party for one of Mike’s former Dracut High School teachers who wrote a book, the audio version of which was produced in the studio. Mike and crew have also recently produced videos for other small businesses in Bridgewood Plaza, including the recently opened Furtado’s Eatery and the well-established Lisa Pilato Dance Center.
Meanwhile, Forty First Studios rents space – both upstairs and down — to others. One recent day, another photographer was utilizing the downstairs space while Mike was upstairs showing a visitor around. The studios will be rented to anyone who has an artistic idea and simply needs a place to realize that idea.
The rent for studio space is a fraction of what Boston studios charge. And there’s plenty of parking at Bridgewood Plaza – something you can’t say about Boston.
“The most important thing and the thing we care most about is the relationships we create,” he said. “There has always been that community aspect about what we do. We have bigger clients, but our heart is with the Furtados, the Lisa Pilatos.
“I like to say we don’t create new clients, we create new friends. Our purpose is to help you get closer to your purpose. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a business we worked with grow.”