A year in the life of The Sharp Project…

A year in the life of The Sharp Project…

Posted 20th Jan 2014 at 01:39 by Tom Clarke

So as we get into 2014 we thought we’d take a quick look at what happened here in  Newton Heath in 2013, a year when TV production, creative agencies, digital businesses, green screen shoots and events all converged in the myriad of spaces of The Sharp Project.

Hopefully we’ve included enough to give an insight into what was a very busy 2013 for everyone either based on site or those who engaged with them. Due to space and time we’ve no doubt missed some people so please do let us know if you should be getting a mention..

So here we go, 2013 at The Sharp Project, a brief(ish) summary:

Zemap filming Jaguar F-Type launch
Zemap filming Jaguar F-Type launch

There was no time to ease ourselves into the New Year as January saw The Campus being transformed into a launch platform for Jaguar’s brand new F-Type sports car. Over three days and nights, The Campus played host to 100’s of special guests who’d travelled to Newton Heath to view the new model. Photos from the launch can be viewed on The Campus’  Facebook page.

Later that month an additional six shipping containers were added to Red Street. The four doubles and two singles brought the total number to 32, comprising 16 double and 16 single spaces. And with more space came more tenants – DigitalNext moved into Gold, expanding their core offering of SEO and marketing into a wide range of online services and growing from nine staff to twenty, five of whom are young apprentices.

February welcomed Tiger Aspect back to The Sharp Project to start rigging the set for the 3rd series of Sky Living’s Mount Pleasant. Occupying Stages Two and Three alongside production offices, prop stores, make up and dressing rooms, Mount Pleasant series 3 aired to widespread acclaim later in the year.

To mark International Women’s Day in March, The Sharp Project invited digitally-minded women to a day of master classes, keynotes and panel discussions entitled Digital Teapot. Created by SharpFutures, it was an event to inspire women to think about the opportunities within the creative and digital technology sector. Photos of event can be found here.

Also in March, The Sharp Project indulged in high culture to create a fancy dress / One Direction-themed interpretation of the Harlem Shake. The video was created by Colin Boulter (Nielson Reeves Photography) with support and costume provision from Chris Buckley / Pixel Kicks (who added the One Direction twist) bringing 80+ tenants together into a somewhat un-coordinated but very fancily dressed troupe. The video has 82,000+ views to date….

Production on Objective Production’s hit comedy Fresh Meat started in April in Stage Four. As with Mount Pleasant, Fresh Meat was returning for their third series, going on to film Fresh Meat Unlocked in addition. As with the first two series, it proved hugely popular across the board


May saw the launch of brand new green screen studios, ranging in size from 500–1300 square feet. In addition to offering a tailor-made green screen facility, the studios can be used for voice-overs, castings, photography, corporate advertising and music videos.

Sharp Project tenant AppLearn announced their expansion with the long-term lease of two of the new green screen facilities whilst also doubling their accommodation. Read more about AppLearn’s expansions here.

The green screen studios opening was made official in June, at Event 005. As well as opportunity for people to see the new facilities demo’d, Event 005 hosted a panel on the future of regional broadcasting, chaired by Prolific North, UX workshops, balloons and of course, a roller disco. As you’d expect. Want to see photos of the disco? Of course you do.

Colin Boulter at Nielsen Reeves involved Chesney Hawkes, George Sampson, Helen Pawson, AppLearn, InventID and Pixelkicks in creating the world’s first ever 360 Hadouken – you can read how, here.

Later in June, The Sharp Project opened it’s doors to 4 local schools for a series of ‘Creative Digital Experience Day’, produced by SharpFutures. Read more about MCM Academy’s day here: or click here to see photos from when St Peters RC High School visited..

Amanda’s Catering launched their new website this month too, a project with fellow tenants Sizzle Media.  Amanda and her team continued to work dawn to dusk each in The Campus, catering events as well as providing daily food & drink, non-stop!


July marked the inaugural hosting of CoderDojo Manchester. CoderDojo is a worldwide network of young programmers and hackers, with over 100 dojos taking place all over the world. Over120 young coding and tech enthusiasts gathered in The Campus on a Sunday afternoon getting to learn, develop and code together on platforms such as Minecraft, Raspberry Pi and Scratch. Photos from the most recent CoderDojo at The Sharp Project can be found here & keep an eye on the Manchester CoderDojo website for details of events in 2014.

As we headed into high summer, August saw Fresh Meat and Mount Pleasant complete production and de-rig. There were more green screen productions and a highlight of our  sporting calendar, the annual Campus Sports Day. Tenant verses tenant across table tennis, pool and table football – the Digital Next team swept the leaders board across all disciplines, all that practice paying off…

80 Hertz released a new website, produced by their next door neighbours Project Simply, which detailed not only the music production aspects of the studio but also post production, ISDN voice over and ADR. George and his team expanding into band broadcasts from the 80 Hertz live room  – on a Friday it’s now not uncommon to see a band heading in and getting ready to play live on Japanese television.

September saw The Drawing Room hard at work producing artwork and brand for Cicchetti’s VOGUE Fashion Night Out event as well as delivering the CGI run through for the new drama hub site in Gorton.

The Sharp Project from The Drawing Room on Vimeo.

In October, regeneration consultancy firm Eksogen released their report into job creation and business development at The Sharp Project, you can read the report here. The reported detailed the impact that The Sharp Project has had on Manchester and the wider creative & digital sector, in creating jobs and bringing in investment.

Degree 53
Degree 53

Continuing the job creation theme, October saw the unveiling of Degree 53 who are located upstairs in Blue and now employing over 50 staff across app development, coding and design with more expansion planned for the new year. An amazing success for the team of 8 that moved into The Sharp Project in 2011.


LeanConf Manchester took place across the site on the last weekend of October. Billed as ‘a Lean Startup, Lean UX and Product conference for entrepreneurs, designers and innovators’, LeanConf brought together delegates from across the world for two days of ideas sharing, keynotes, workshops and socialising. We look forward to LeanConf 2014.

Advertising and production companies continued to come through The Sharp Project’s doors in November, using the green screen studios as well as working with a wide variety of tenants based onsite. Little Orchard Productions and Maverick TV were just two of them, making the most of the short-term hire basis.

Digital Next invited  Kieran Brown in, as part of their “Britain’s Got Digital Talent” Project. Check out the video. The lad’s got skills

November also featured the premier of ‘Lost Generation’, filmed in part on location around The Sharp Project, directed by Red tenant Mark Ashmore and the Future Artists collective.

As we approached the end of year there was focus on the new forensic businesses based within The Sharp Project,  all developing fast as a unique specialism within the wider digital sector. In addition, Touchsoft continued their work in developing apps with the NHS.

CoderDojo 1st Brithday
CoderDojo 1st Birthday

December continued in the form of the 11 months previous with a scope of happenings such as CoderDojo Manchester celebrating its first birthday in The Campus, Chesney Hawkes (plus a man in a very convincing orangutan suit) rehearse a flash mob in Stage One, Brain Cosgrove interviewed as part of the excellent Manimation event and the spotting of a ghost from Christmas Future…

The Guardian were onsite in December, taking photos for a feature on Manchester’s leading tech companies – read on, here.

Across the year, our tenants continued to win awards – Eloise Whitmore, winning two Radio Academy Awards for Best Sound Designer and Best Producer, Laura Harper from Ward Hadaway won Professional Advisor of the Year at the 2013 Mancoolian Awards and Tunafish Media’s Ric Brooks won ‘Young digital, media or creative professional at the JCI MYTA Awards as co-director Sam Jones won the ‘Business Development Professional’ at The Made in Manchester Awards (as well as gaining global press attention with his Captain Manchester campaign, launching a comic book series in the process…)

Darren ELP in middle
Darren ELP in middle

Darren Fletcher from ELP Lighting claimed the ‘most interesting location for a shoot’ award by travelling to Afghanistan in December, to provide lighting on ‘Gary Barlow’s Journey To…’

Where will we be by 2015? …. we’re gonna need a smaller font…

The Sharp Project
Thorp Road
M40 5BJ
United Kingdom