When we catch up with Ally Curran, the co-founder of Pip studios on Winnersh Triangle, her story reads like one of a Hollywood script, full of grit, determination and passion.
Ally as a young girl left school without going into further education, instead heading into London where she landed roles at Conde Nast Publications and Saatchi & Saatchi, falling in love with the world of media.
Cut to her next big break and Ally becomes Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice President of Universal Studios. She’s a born organiser and it shows, and she lands several roles as studio manager, before deciding to strike out on her own with two industry veterans, Mark Sheffield, and Nigel Bennett to set up Pip studios.
Start of Pip Studios
Pip studios is the UK’s first purpose-built, audio post-production facilities for the Film, TV, Gaming and Streaming industries and sets out to do things differently.
Yet like all the best Hollywood Movies, there’s a twist. It’s 2020, a global pandemic hits, Ally’s pregnant and they’ve just taken on 13,000 sq ft to house the new state-of-the-art facilities, including six Dolby Atmos & IMAX stages, and additional edit and recording suites. It’s a race against time to get the stage doors open before the baby arrives and the world shuts down.
Of course, like all good Hollywood films, the intrepid trio survive against all adversity thanks to the unwavering support of their landlord and come out on top, gaining lucrative contracts to do the audio post-production on some of the biggest box office sellers including Top Gun: Maverick, Fast X and Spider-Man Across the Spiderverse.
“At times,” says Ally. “The move had us all on the edge of our seats, but Frasers Property were fantastic and very encouraging and enabled us to realise our dream. They were prepared to take the risk, and for that we are incredibly grateful.”
The film industry is only just beginning to settle down, after a massive shake up from streaming services, a lot of restructuring and then a recession which has made it more challenging to get people into cinemas.
“The industry is a close-knit community, and we have a strong reputation, employing hugely talented people who are well-known and respected in the industry and best of all, they all wanted to work with us.
“We offer a boutique service, where we can be agile and adaptable. We work very hard to keep our clients happy, often putting in 16-hour days, 7 days a week, but we’re committed to making it work. We are all incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Employing 11 full-time staff and a pool of freelancers, with the hope that they can grow future opportunities at Pip, Winnersh Triangle offered the warehouse space to let a facility and tailor it to their requirements.
“When we were looking for accommodation, it was important we could make it our own and build stages exactly how we wanted. The place needed to be accessible to our team and international clients who can now fly into Heathrow and be here in 30 minutes.”
Enjoying the Space to Create
Ally expands, “It’s important people have a place they enjoy coming to work to everyday. The space is very attractive to our clients, light and airy and many stay overnight at the onsite Village Hotel.
“Frasers has invested a lot in the infrastructure and the park at Winnersh. Stage Fifty arriving here was a major bonus and creates opportunity for collaboration and a rich talent pool.
“The Frasers team are good at communicating and we make use of the gym and the café. It’s quite peaceful and you can enjoy a walk or run around the green open spaces of the neighbouring meadows or even just around the park itself.”
Pip has been at the park three years now and it’s been action packed. Ally is looking forward to seeing where the adventure takes her and her co-founders next.
“It’s a lot of hard work but I’m grateful to call some amazing individuals my colleagues. It’s an industry that creates so many job opportunities and for people like me it has been incredibly rewarding.”