Jam Jar Studios is an exciting new addition to the North East film and television industry – an ex-working men’s club in Gateshead which has been painstakingly converted into office space for creative businesses, an events space, and a state-of-the-art soundproofed green screen studio.
Jam Jar Studios was given its name after the team found out that their new home had previously been a working man’s club which in the 1950s used to show feature films for members and their families. As times were tight, you could pay for your entrance with jam jars or bottles, which were worth a ha’penny or penny deposit when returned to the grocers.
We chatted to Caroline Metcalf, Head of Strategy at Superkrush, about the how the studios came about, how the development has progressed, and the need for such facilities in the North East.
What's the story behind Jam Jar Studios?
Jam Jar is the brainchild of Chris Taylor, the original founder of Superkrush, and his business partner Nick Todd, who is MD of Superkrush. The guys are responsible for the overall business development of Jam Jar, and the Studio also has a full time receptionist, who looks after bookings and handles the day-to-day administration. Because Superkrush is also housed in the building it means the full team are on hand 9–5 for any enquiries or viewings.
Superkrush Films were at a defining moment in the development of the company and it was clear that to move forward a physical move would also need to be on the cards. At much the same time Chris had noticed an old working men’s club in Gateshead which was standing empty and offered the opportunity to create all the space that Superkrush needed. The two things seemed to come together at exactly the right time. The building provides a home for Superkrush, a great studio space that can be hired out by in-house teams or marketing managers, and creative office spaces which are also available to rent.
What services does Jam Jar offer?
It’s different things to different people. If you are an agency or marketing manager it’s a green screen studio space to hire (and we can provide kit too). If you are a Superkrush client it’s an in-house studio facility to be used as required. And if you are a creative business that wants a great office space in a building dedicated to all things creative then it’s your ideal spot.
We didn’t really pick the location, the location picked us! But it couldn’t be in a better place, right across the road from the Gateshead Interchange, just off the A184, so really accessible.
Are you happy with the way the design by Simon Grundy has turned out?
Delighted. The building is airy and full of light, with offices on the north and west sides having lovely views of Newcastle and Windmill Hills Park in Gateshead. Superkrush has the office and edit space we need, plus the conversion of the first floor former concert room provides us with a 1200 sq.ft. studio, which now offers the North East’s largest purpose built green screen facility. On the ground floor, Reception is housed in a great café space, which is the social hub of the building and where our virtual tenants come to work, to have meetings or just to chill.
Have you seen an increase in enquiries from companies who previously would have gone outside the region for space?
Enquiry levels have been steady, ranging from immediate space requirement to more general information requests. It’s the green screen facility that is generating most interest because of its size and also because it’s a purpose built space. As far as we are aware, the nearest similar facilities are either in the Leeds area or in Scotland.
What was the most challenging part of the renovation and getting the studios up and running?
Probably the amount of rubble that had to be shifted when we started to take down walls inside the building – we had over 30 skips to empty! We have also installed a state-of-the-art communications system, with superfast broadband and WiFi access, plus a CCTV security system. Very high tech, so that’s taken a bit of time to master.
How has the first month in the new space gone?
Really well. Superkrush are all moved in now and we have a couple of tenants already with us in the building. We’re still taking viewings for a couple of the office spaces too. The Studio has also been busy. We’ve built a room set in one part of the Studio which is being used for a client on an ongoing basis; we shot a music video in there too, and we even had a group of nursery school children on a visit from the local kids club who enjoyed jumping around with Peppa Pig (courtesy of green screen technology!). We’ve also hosted a couple of events in the café which is a great space, with a bar area, and tables and chairs if you need them. That’s available for anyone to hire.
Are you on the lookout for tenants?
Yes, we still have spaces within Jam Jar for potential tenants. The spaces are a mix of sizes, which would accommodate all kinds of tenants, but our ideal would be for creative companies to become part of the Jam Jar family. We’re keen to get the community going here, and to encourage collaborative working where we can.
All the details for the spaces are on the website and we’re always happy to show people around if they are interested.