It’s a tale as old as time itself…
- Fans build perfectly nice TOS sets to use to make Star Trek fan films.
- Egg roll manufacturer moves in next door.
- A few years later, egg roll manufacturer moves out…leaving mold behind.
- Mold starts creeping into Engineering.
- Set owner has to spend his own money fixing the problem.
Yeah, I know; you’ve heard this one a million times at least! But it just happened again at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA.
As many of you know, the building housing the TOS sets is only partially rented by set owner RAY TESI. The other half of the building was, until recently, utilized by a company that manufactures egg rolls…because, well, somebody has to make those yummy, greasy things, right? It was kinda nice, actually, as the smells from the egg roll factory would permeate the entire building, and they smelled amazing.
“Oh, I still remember that amazing smell,” says director JOSHUA IRWIN. “It was like filming in the middle of the most incredible Chinese restaurant. Sometimes, weeks or months later, I would be sitting at home in Arkansas, editing a fan film I’d shot at Neutral Zone, and just seeing that footage on my screen was enough to make me start smelling phantom egg rolls in my brain.”
But alas, all good things must end. And so it came to pass that this egg roll manufacturer grew to be so successful that they needed to move to a larger facility in Jacksonville, FL, leaving the space next to the studio vacant.
Despite the loss of the intoxicating aroma, this actually wasn’t the worst news ever. For a while, Ray actually considered renting the other half of the building to expand the studio, but the price was not feasible. However, while in consideration, Ray walked through the adjacent space after the egg roll equipment had been removed. The space looked like a war zone, and there was grease everywhere.
During the time the factory occupied the building, Ray saw that water would occasionally seep through the walls and into the studio side. Turns out the egg roll people would hose down and pressure clean the floors at the end of the day and push some water into the studio. At Ray’s request, new plastic floor boards were installed by the egg roll folks to restrain the water, but the damage was done.
During his walkthrough of the non-vacant space, Ray noticed the mold.
Mold isn’t particularly unusual in a hot and humid environment like southeastern Georgia. And indeed, the egg roll factory, despite having ample air conditioning, had allowed the water from washing both the facility and the ingredients themselves to permeate the walls. The mold looked like it had been there for quite some time.
Obviously, the mold needed to be dealt with lest it start spreading even further. The landlord took action, but not enough to cleanse the walls, which needed to be removed and replaced. Usually, that sort of thing is done when a new tenant moves in. Unfortunately, mold doesn’t wait for a new tenant. It spreads.
The mold itself was located in the dividing walls between the studio and the abandoned half of the building, along the part of Engineering that faces the iconic red ladder. To add to and accelerate the crisis, a new leak from a recently burst pipe caused water to spill under the warp core area and additional mold was detected.
Ray contacted the landlord again, his concern level having risen from yellow alert to super-triple-decker-priority-A-plus-plus-plus-emergency RED ALERT! If mold were to begin spreading into any of those wooden sets, Neutral Zone Studios would quickly become unsavable.
Fortunately, there are various types of molds, and this was not the “black mold” as reported elsewhere. This was actually the kind of mold that is easily dealt with by simply removing and replacing the affected areas, including insulation.
Ray couldn’t wait any longer and hired his own demolition and construction crew from dedicated volunteers to remove the infected parts of the walls inside the building, build new ones, and then test for any remaining mold. Who is going to pay for all this? Right now, the answer is Ray — at least up front. So anyone out there wondering what kinds of costs there are for Neutral Zone Studios beyond rent and utilities, well, this is definitely one of them.
Ray and the demolition team worked diligently this past weekend to complete the removal of all contaminated areas by disinfecting and then purchasing and installing new drywall between all of the previously infected areas.
As you can see from the photos below sent to me by Ray, their work was quite extensive…