At first glance you might think you’ve taken a wrong left turn, but a couple more steps up the steely industrial staircase and you’ll come to understand all you need to about Millworks and its rustic, factory-like aesthetic.
A historic district turned open-concept workspace, Millworks Creative acts as a place for creatives (mainly photographers, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs) to work side-by-side and develop their projects. It also serves as a common area for its growing community of creatives. As Millworks’ head of operations Danielle Rizzo puts it, “it’s a space where we want you to feel welcome; it’s a space where we want to help you create ideas”. With five different studios and an all-in-one service offering, it’s a large undertaking that certainly fits between the wide expanses of Millworks.
Influenced by her own personal style, her father’s innovative spirit when running popular clothing brand Campus Crew, and their shared love for antiquing, Millworks Creative has a defined visual style that lends itself to inspiration at every turn. But more so, her role is as a connector of people and nurturing collaboration among creatives that use the space.
At its core, that’s what Danielle and Millworks aim to do — build a community that sets it apart from other co-op workplaces. There’s a lot under one roof to interact with – from traditional painters, woodworkers, and creative directors, to the usual photographers and filmmakers – and that’s just one floor.
One of the most unique and inviting aspects of Millworks is its cozy shared workspace. For a day fee or a membership, creatives can set up laptops, help themselves to unlimited coffee and tea, and freely interact with others — an aspect that Danielle feels is a source of inspiration for the Millworks community. “When you look at something, other people relate or interpret it in a different way,” she says of not only watching others create but sharing their own muses as well.
For example, Hamilton Film Studios, which produces television and larger scale films and Made at Millworks, which provides semi-private studio spaces to artists are also located in the building. With 12,000 square feet of space and a deliberate lack of separation, collaboration is almost a certainty.
Further inspiration can be found outside of the common area too. Millwork’s five studio spaces are all incredibly distinct in their look and feel. The smallest spaces – the Cottage and the Bedroom – lend themselves to family and wedding photoshoots with their lived-in, cottage country visuals. Snow white brick walls and exposed beams greet you in every corner, making both rooms feel aged and timeless all at once.
The Loft, which is larger and wider than the previous two, has been home to photoshoots, yoga workshops, music videos, and more. There’s no limit on what a space can be used for and innovation is welcomed.
The Annex is one of the biggest spaces at Millworks and is so massive that it features two more spaces within it — the Den and the Glass Room, that can be rented as well. The Annex surrounds you with factory style windows that give plenty of opportunity for natural light. Its scale offers a vastness that could easily be utilized for a short film or larger scale production.
The largest and final space, the Stage, is an enormous fully wooden attic that features a darker aesthetic than any of the previous studios. Mostly employed for films and music videos, its size is something that can only be appreciated in person.
Most of the studios are characterized by props and furniture selected by Danielle herself and can be filled with anything found in the prop room, which can also be rented. Many props are thrifted antiques that fit the appearance and theme of Millworks. Then to keep things fresh, Danielle switches out the props in the rooms for a new and unique look every so often. In addition to the prop room, there is a hair and make-up station that is complimentary to any booking and a freight elevator available to easily move equipment between spaces.
In a short time since opening, Millworks Creative has seen several different productions make use of the space. One of the more memorable uses is the transformation of the Loft into a showcase for the work of young artists from the kids classes at Studio on James. It’s a reminder of just how multifaceted Hamilton’s creative scene is, and the malleability of Millworks speaks to that.
What sets the arts in Hamilton apart from other cities, Danielle says, is the community. In her own words, “I don’t think I’ve seen this many creatives or artists that just want to help each other, or work together, or collaborate to build up the city”.
A good idea can start in solitude, but a great idea might come from a new set of eyes, a conversation over espresso, or a young artist getting an opportunity to show their work. Collaboration gives us an opportunity to support all of that, and luckily Millworks Creative has opened its doors to all.