Sam Moorhead along with his friend Caomhan Connolly set up ‘The Side Project’ in 2017 as a means for creatives to explore and produce work on their own accord, free from clients briefs and work restrictions. The project grew from a series of breakfast meetings to a creative speed-dating club and on to a collaborative project network and podcast.

Caomhan Connolly (left) and Sam Moorhead (right), The Side project

Where did you spend lockdown?

When lockdown hit, my fiance and I migrated out of our city apartment and moved in with my parents in Raheny. We had a roommate at the time, and three people locked in sounded like too much. Plus, a large garden and both St. Anne’s Park and Dollymount beach within our 2km sounded more appealing.

Did you have access to a workspace during this time? If not, how did you continue to work?

I did not have access to any actual workspace, so I really had to be creative with my space. Mum & dad have a big garden, but smallish house. I made a little makeshift desk in my parents spare room, and either worked there, or in the kitchen, depending where my fiance and parents were knocking about.

Can you talk through the work that The Side Project do?

We set up the creative community, “the side project” about three years ago, with an aim to help everybody think up, pursue and stick with a passion project. We started out hosting a breakfast club, then moved on to supper clubs and it took off from there. Since then, we’ve hosted workshops, spoke at Offset, ran a 1-on-1 meet up service, hosted a podcast, and co-ordinated an online exhibition; all with the same goal – help creatives with their side projects.

Given the limitations and restrictions of the last few months, how did your ongoing projects change?

Pretty much all our jobs were put on hold and called off, replaced with Covid inspired jobs. All brands wanted to have something to say, even though they weren’t actually saying much. However, we did create one nice piece for Three Mobile (Which was my last job in Boys + Girls). We found a way around restrictions to shoot a TV ad, telling Three’s customer’s that they’d lifted their own data restrictions. The ad was called, “Monster Hunter” and it featured a granddad checking underneath his grandson’s bed for monsters, all over Skype. The ad was shot by the actors’ families at home, directed by Tom Merilion on the phone, who was in lockdown in France.

Did you have any projects during this time that went ahead?

Just before the Coronavirus got serious my side project partner, Caomhan Connolly, and I had broadened the team and created a side project panel – bringing talented young creatives Niamh Ryan, Kevin McKay and Dean Ryan on board. So, we were preparing to create the next step of the side project.

And when lockdown hit, the concept of “the inside project” just seemed perfect. So many creatives were trapped inside with more spare time than ever. Some of which, unable to work at all. The inside project gave them an incentive to create, and a place for their work to live where people high-up in the industry would see it. We made sure of that by asking industry leaders to give their promise that they’d attend the event.

Initially, when we thought lockdown would last a few weeks, we had intended to host a physical event, showcasing the work people had done. However, as the pandemic worsened, we decided to keep it all online, and it really worked. Creatives jumped on board, as we received over 70 submissions of amazing quality. All kinds of work ranging from model making, to illustration, to painting, to film, to music, to poetry. All showcasing creative ways to deal with the pandemic, and showcase some immense talents.

The Inside Project, 2020

Do you think the changes adopted over the last few months will change how you work going forward?

I think so, yes. I’m far more comfortable doing meetings or recordings over Zoom or phone calls. I always hated it before, I needed the intimacy of everyone in the room. But, needs must, and I can see less physical meetings going forward for sure.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

I’ve just launched a new entertainment hub within Verve with my creative partner, Mikey Fleming. We’re called, ‘Showrunner‘ and we’ve just released our first piece of work called, ‘Rare Owl Times’. It’s an animated mini series that encourages everyone to shop local like they did in the rare auld times. And yes, it features a cast of Dublin based animated owls.

‘Rare Owl Times – EP.1’, Showrunner, 2020

All photographs were provided by The Side Project. To see more of their work visit their website and Instagram.