At SODA we work closely with a range of leading industry partners, who help inform our curriculum. This enables our courses to provide you with the industry-ready skills and experiences you’ll need to launch a career in the creative media, arts and digital tech industries.
Our Industry Advisory Group is chaired by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and Executive Producer of Red Production Company & CEO of StudioCanal UK, Nicola Shindler. The Group are involved in making sure that our facilities and courses are closely tailored to industry.
RED Production Company
Nicola Shindler set up RED Production Company in 1998 to work with the best writers on original television drama.
The Manchester-based indie, with Nicola at its helm, has since produced some of the UK’s most popular and award-winning series, working with esteemed writers including Russell T Davies, Harlan Coben, Matt Greenhalgh, Danny Brocklehurst and Sally Wainwright.
Nicola’s credits include multi BAFTA award-winning and critically acclaimed Happy Valley and Last Tango In Halifax, Lenny Henry’s first screenplay Danny and the Human Zoo, Dan Sefton’s Trust Me, Danny Brocklehurst’s ratings-winning dramas Ordinary Lies and The Driver, Harlan Coben’s Safe and Russell T Davies ambitious and acclaimed trilogy Cucumber, Banana and Tofu.
Recent shows include Harlan Coben’s Safe which stars Michael C Hall and Amanda Abbington for Netflix, Come Home, a three-part series for the BBC, written by Danny Brocklehurst, Butterfly by Tony Marchant, for ITV, starring Anna Friel, Trust Me Series 2 written by Dan Sefton and Years & Years written by Russell T Davies. Nicola and Russell will also be making The Boys for Channel 4 in 2019.
RED Production Company became part of STUDIOCANAL’s international production network in 2013.
In 2020 Nicola was appointed CCO of StudioCanal UK. In her new role she will be in charge of setting up and spearheading a new in-house film production arm to develop British films, tapping into the U.K.’s vast talent pool. Nicola will undertake this alongside her work at Red and continue developing both TV and features.
Blackmagic Design EMEA
As managing director for Blackmagic Design’s EMEA markets, Stuart Ashton leads a team to deliver professional video production equipment that supports the creativity of filmmakers, video directors and post production teams across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Having grown up and studied in Manchester, Stuart has a lifelong attachment to the city. A Manchester Metropolitan University alumnus in Television Production, Stuart has always worked in the creative industries and has gained a wealth of knowledge of live production, filmmaking and post production throughout his career. Stuart has practical experience as an online editor, and was an RTS award nominee for his short film, ‘One Too Many’.
A key leader in the broadcast market, Stuart has also sat on the advisory board for IBC (International Broadcast Convention). Stuart has always been passionate about fostering and supporting emerging talent in the filmmaking community, and has worked closely with many young directors and DoPs, who have gone on to successful careers in Hollywood and global cinema.
As Head of Digital Skills & Technology at BBC Academy, Gurdip looks after the training and skills needs for BBC staff and the wider freelance broadcast industry in digital skills, social media and technology.
He also manages a number of pan-BBC strategic skills and learning projects and leads external partnerships with ScreenSkills, NFTS, Arts Council and the BFI .
Before working with the Academy, Gurdip forged a successful production career as Executive Producer in BBC Factual, CBBC and BBC Worldwide. As Senior Vice President & Head of Programmes for Sony Pictures in Mumbai he commissioned and adapted global entertainment formats such as Pop Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and I’m A Celebrity.
Magnus is the CEO and founder of Playground Squad (PSQ), the longest running dedicated Games and interactive training centre in the world. PSQ are an upper vocational university based in Sweden with a branch in the UK. Magnus also runs several companies within games development and gamification who are working with a number of large telecom operators in the launch of 5G around the world. Magnus and his team have developed the world’s first 5G gamified application for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea, Immersive sports application for football, hockey and several more sports, gamified visitor guides and application for promotion of World Heritage. Magnus likes to work with innovative ideas where old and new technologies and techniques meet. For Magnus, nothing is impossible.
As Sales and Marketing Director, Kirstie provides insight and leadership for the business development strategy and direction of CTI Digital and many of its major clients. For over 15 years she has driven growth in client services, new business, and marketing functions in several of the leading digital agencies in the UK, she is known for being a big idea conceptual thinker who sees and harnesses market-shaping opportunities. Winner of multiple DADI awards, including Creative Director of the Year and Creative Team of the Year, Kirstie has previously held the position of DMA North Chair and has developed and is an active collaborator in a number of NW and UK-wide digital initiatives.
Clients have ranged from Welcome Trust, Royal Household, Manchester Art Gallery, VW, London 2012, Everton FC, YHA, Durham Uni and Manchester Metropolitan University.
Involved over the years with Tech She Can, Innovate Her, Flipside, and Girl Geeks, Manchester Digital & BIMA – key focus to bring women in, and return to careers within digital.
Emma Bullock has worked in the Technology sector for her entire career with a specific mission to encourage its use in the UK Education system.
Co-founder of iSports in 2000 she specialised in sports video analysis software working with the UK football leagues, sports governing bodies and schools. Known for her strategic thinking and client commitment she has achieved great success brokering deals for high profiled arts, media and educational institutions over the past 20 years.
A lifelong passion for Apple design, she currently works in the Education division of Apple UK.
Ghetto Film School
Sharese Bullock-Bailey is the Chief Strategy and Partnership Officer at Ghetto Film School. Sharese has funded, distributed, and curated independent media globally for the past 17 years. She has led service and international education programs in over 20 countries, including filmmaking exchanges for young producers and educators throughout the US, UK and India. She is an Emmy-nominated producer, founder of Overstand – a global strategic consultancy.
Sharese recently served as Director of Tribeca Teaches, a filmmaking residency at Tribeca Film Institute, and was selected by the Ford Foundation as a 2015 Rockwood JustFilms Fellow and as a 2016 New York Community Trust Leadership Fellow. Sharese is an Executive Board Member of ITVS (Independent Television Service).
Sharese received a BA in Communications at The University of Pennsylvania, then participated in the Financial Analyst program at Goldman Sachs. She also served as a Teach For America Corps Member, earning a M.S. in Education while teaching in her hometown of Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Jane Carter is an entrepreneur in the Music Industry with over 25 years’ experience and is known internationally for her expertise in Publishing, Recording and Live performance.
She is currently the Managing Director of Universal Production Music UK and prior to this ran her own company representing Oscar and BAFTA winning Film/TV Composers including, George Fenton, Michael Nyman, Max Richter, Steven Price and was the Executive Producer for a portfolio of global live events.
Having masterminded and produced the BBC Natural History concerts The Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet she went on to create and produce the War Horse BBC Prom with the National Theatre and Wallace and Gromit Musical Marvels BBC Prom with Aardman Animations.
Jane has held senior positions across the music industry and built an impressive track record working for the BBC Worldwide, Warner Music, The Music Sales Group, BBC Radio 3, PolyGram Records and the London Symphony Orchestra.
A graduate from Christ Church College, University of Kent at Canterbury, in 1991 with a First Class BA (Hons) in Music and Business Education and an Honorary Fellow of Christ Church Canterbury University in 2018, she is also a Board Director for Trinity College London Press.
Former Microsoft & Manchester Metropolitan University
With almost 30 years in the technology industry and, most recently, working across Microsoft’s UK business to orchestrate and implement an integrated “thought leadership” strategy that addressed Microsoft’s potential with UK government, customers and consumers, Dave Coplin is at the forefront of conversations around how individuals and organisations can benefit from the transformational potential that technology has to offer.
Dave is an established author on topics surrounding the future of work and our relationship with technology. His first book: “Business Reimagined”, provided a view of a new working environment based on collaborative and flexible working. His most recent book, “The Rise of the Humans” provides a further call to action, for both individuals and organisations to harness not hate the digital deluge, to rise up and take back control of the potential that technology offers our society.
John leads the machine learning research group at Aylien – a Dublin-based company which uses AI to help people understand the global news landscape. John has many research interests, mostly falling under the common theme of building more intelligent machines. His work has primarily centred around three areas: natural language understanding, computational creativity (focusing on music in particular), and building large scale data infrastructure. Most recently he has been exploring representation learning, multitask learning and transfer learning, with applications in machine translation, summarisation, classification, and musical audio synthesis. John previously worked in data infrastructure and analytics at Open Knowledge and SoundCloud. He holds a Ph.D. in Audio Signal Processing and Computer Science from Maynooth University, an M.Phil. in Music Technology from Trinity College Dublin, and a B.Sc. in Computer Science from University College Cork.
Colin Harvey is a writer and narrative designer based at Sony’s PlayStation London Studio. He was co-writer on Sony’s acclaimed Virtual Reality thriller Blood and Truth starring Colin Salmon and Felix Scott. His other game work includes material for the Sniper Elite and Strange Brigade franchises produced by Rebellion, as well freelance story design work for Sony. Beyond games, his licensed work includes spinoff material for the Doctor Who and Highlander ranges published by Big Finish.
His original short fiction won the first Pulp Idol award, jointly conferred by SFX Magazine and Gollancz Books, and his science fiction novella Dead Kelly was published by Abaddon Books. Colin’s comic work includes material for 2000AD and Commando. His academic book Fantastic Transmedia (Palgrave 2015) explores science fiction and fantasy crossmedia storytelling. He possesses a PhD in Video Game Storytelling from UEL and has presented on the subject of game writing and transmedia storytelling across the UK, in Europe, Australia and the US.
It was only after completing a Ph.D. in computer vision at the University of Sheffield and spending several years as a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, that Tony came to realise he just wasn’t an academic. Equipped with this insight, he began his career in industry with AstraZeneca, developing software to analyse data from MRI & CT scanners in the fight against diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. A few years later, the opportunity arose to move into the startup space allowing Tony to guide Optasia Medical and later Bioxydyn through the complex world of medical device development. However, all of this was but a precursor as Tony’s career took another twist when he joined Cubic Motion as Product Manager. In just over a year he had released Persona, a real-time, facial performance capture system that has been used in film, TV and game productions as well as several live-on-stage performances. In March 2020 Cubic Motion was acquired by Epic Games as part of it’s Digital Humans Initiative beginning the next phase in Tony’s career.
Rose Marley is Chief Executive of SharpFutures the social enterprise partner of The Sharp Project, home to digital entrepreneurs and production companies, and Space Studios Manchester, a purpose-built facility for large scale TV & film production.
SharpFutures Manchester CIC, is a social enterprise designed to ‘seed, nurture and grow talent and skills for the creative digital sector’ with clients including BBC, ITV, Cisco and a whole host of independent creative business with the innovating SharpFutures POD service.
Rose is also a successful businesswoman as founder and Director of Rose Marley Management, a management company specialising in the delivery of creative projects with a long history in music production and management. Rose’s most recent production was created in lock-down as a YouTube live event with over one hundred thousand participants across Greater Manchester. Together in One Voice was a doorstep singalong with artist appearances including Liam Gallagher, Take That and Emeli Sande, thirty choirs and a host of musicians and performers. Rose was responsible for concept to delivery for Manchester International Festival and was featured on Good Morning Britain and in NME.
Rose lives in Chorlton, Manchester with husband and two teenage children.
Dave is the Director and Chief Executive of HOME, and the Director of Culture for Manchester City Council. He has worked as an arts professional for over 30 years. He currently leads HOME, a purpose-built 7,500m2 multi art-form venue that opened in May 2015, a project he conceived and led that has attracted almost 2.5m visits since it opened. He is also seconded to Manchester City Council in a part-time role of Director of Culture responsible for advising the Council on policy and strategy for culture.
Dave was awarded a Doctor of Arts honoris causa by the University of Salford, is a Fellow of the RSA, a member of the Chartered Management Institute, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He is also an advisor to the British Council and holds a number of non-executive roles on not-for-profit boards.
Film Director and Artist
Jenn Nkiru is an artist and filmmaker from and based in Peckham, London.
Pushed through a surrealist lens, her practise is grounded in the history of black music, afro-surrealism, the aesthetics of experimental film, international art cinema, the black arts movement and the rich and variegated tradition of cinemas of the black diaspora and their distinct experimentation with the politics of form.
Nkiru’s work as the second unit director of visuals for The Carter’s “Apesh**t” video shot in the Louvre in Paris is her most recognised mainstream work.
Her dreamlike, cinematic short titled, REBIRTH IS NECESSARY (2017), is an intimate minds eye exploration of diasporic blackness and her latest film, BLACK TO TECHNO (2019) which premiered at Frieze LA, explores the philosophical, geopolitical, sonic and the Black origins of Techno music.
Nkiru was one of 75 artists selected for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2019 Whitney Biennial curated by Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta.
She is also a contributing director on the film BLACK IS KING by Beyoncé, released by Disney in 2020.
Irini Papadimitriou is Creative Director at FutureEverything, an arts organisation and innovation lab that stimulates new ways of thinking across a diverse range of sectors. Her curatorial practice – including previous roles as Digital Programmes Manager at the V&A, and Head of New Media Arts Development at Watermans – draws on interdisciplinary and critical discourse to explore the impact of technology in society and culture, and the role of art in engaging with contemporary issues. Her exhibition, Artificially Intelligent, was displayed at the V&A in 2018, exploring AI, invisible technological infrastructures and boundaries of humanness.
She is a co-curator for the Arts & Culture experience at Mozilla Festival, a co-founder of Maker Assembly, and an Associate at IWM Institute. She has served as a jury member for Prix Ars Electronica, Lumen Prize, EU STARTS and ACM Siggraph.
Sinead Rocks is Channel 4’s first Managing Director for Nations & Regions. She is the lead executive in its new National HQ in Leeds and has overseen the establishment of creative hubs in Bristol and Glasgow. She started her career as a journalist at BBC Northern Ireland before joining BBC Children’s to work on the launch of the CBBC channel. She is a former editor of Newsround as well as Executive Producer for BBC Current Affairs where she headed up the Manchester network unit and led the team making content for The One Show, Panorama, documentaries for BBC Three and the ‘Rip Off Britain’ franchise. As the BBC’s Director of Education, she was responsible for a range of content across TV, radio and online including the award-winning Bitesize and played a key role in the BBC’s move to Salford.