CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Hamilton filmmaker to convert historic substation into ‘dream studio’


Published August 20, 2020 at 8:08 pm

A Hamilton filmmaker is converting a historic North Hamilton building into his dream studio and he’s taking us all along for the ride.

A Hamilton filmmaker is converting a historic North Hamilton building into his dream studio and he’s taking us all along for the ride.

Christoph Benfey, a local filmmaker, photographer and content creator, says he’s been looking for a long time for a studio that could cater to his specific needs.

He set up shop at several locations across Hamilton over the years, but nothing quite felt right.

Until now.

A former hydro sub-station at 366 Victoria Avenue North, mere steps from the General Hospital, is set to become a unique co-working space for filmmakers and creatives in the Hamilton area.

Benfey calls the project his ‘dream studio’ and provided an up-close and personal look inside the building before renovations get underway.

The video was released last week, on what was Benfey’s 35th birthday.

The building itself has the distinction of being the first building in Hamilton to have hydro.

On Thursday, August 25, 1898, the Victoria Street substation received the city’s first-ever jolt of electricity, courtesy the waters of the Welland Canal and the Cataract Power Company.

The Hamilton Spectator reported extensively on the event at the time.

Since that day, Hamilton has been electrified and Benfey’s ‘dream studio’ was where it all began.

Over the years and throughout the city’s history, the building has housed a number of businesses and has seen owners come and go. Parts of the building have fallen into a degree of disrepair but its iconic red-brick facade has been a steadfast presence in this industrial neighbourhood.

It’s clear that Benfey and his fellow creatives and investors have big plans for the space, but still hope to capitalize on the building’s historic charm and otherworldly characteristics.

Benfey says he believes this space will have the power to ‘foster a collaborative spirit that hasn’t existed in Hamilton before.”

The building will house co-working space, editing suites, sound studios and a 4,000 sq.-ft. sound stage for larger productions.

There will also be a bright and dedicated public space with room to sit and work and a coffee shop.

And the name of the new studio, which started out as a joke, Benfey says but has stuck, is Evil Empire Studios.

Professionals in the film industry and creatives in the community who are looking for a home that caters to their specific needs (or investors) are encouraged to reach out to Benfey and the Evil Empire team to connect.

Benfey said there are so many unique spaces in the building that require more detailed exploration and he’ll be providing those details and updates on the project’s progress in a series of videos to come.

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