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Rick Gamarra – CEO of Southbay Studios

Rick Gamarra is the CEO of Southbay Studios, which has become an automotive one-stop shop for production teams looking for cars. Beginning in 1984 with the intention of helping car companies shoot commercials for their product. With turntables, lighting and other accommodations, Gamarra says Southbay Studios is the only company doing what he does.

Located in Long Beach California, Southbay has access to both domestic and foreign markets as well as a large port for the delivery of cars. Working on high-end commercials and auto productions, his passion for cars is has grown from the beginnings of his career: washing and detailing cars.

In order to ready a car for shooting, Gamarra’s team must first remove elements of the car’s interior from its shell, and determine how to make the on-board computer work from outside the car. Once this is accomplished, they can helicopter cars into sets or even into the middle of the ocean. He’s proud of the fact that his company can handle anything, which is in large part due to his can-do attitude and refusal to accept “impossible” as an answer. Coming from 8 Mile, Detroit, Gamarra has worked his way up from nothing to build Southbay Studios.

Beginning with work from Mitsubishi, Gamarra soon approached Toyota for work – and was successful! Thinking on his feet and constantly evaluating both his process and execution have allowed Gamarra to withstand both a near-closure in 1994 and the current recession, where he has gained the business of Detroit-based GM. He credits his success to his drive and “never say die” attitude.

“Eight years later I told the guy that gave me that [Toyota] job, ‘I had no company, you were out of your mind giving me this work!’ He said, ‘I never knew it.’ I said, ‘That’s the key to it all.’”


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