The Great Northern Creative Expo Announces 2019 Dates

The Sixth Edition of TGNCE 18th – 23rd November 2019!

The Great Northern Creative Expo in association with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) today confirms the dates for the Expo’s sixth edition which will take place at venues across the university’s Preston campus, including the state-of-the-art Media Factory facility, from 18th-23rd November 2019.

Alan Keegan, Director of Business Development – UK Partnerships for the Faculty of Culture and the Creative Industries at UCLan, and the founder of The Great Northern Creative Expo will return as Festival Director for this sixth edition.

“I’m very excited that once again we are offering both the general public and the student base the opportunity to engage and be part of a unique event that has got bigger and better each year.” says Alan Keegan, “Over the years we have keynote guests such as author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, James Bond director John Glen, internationally acclaimed artist and photographer Ian Beesley, actor George Costigan, along with the General Manager of BBC North Adrian Mills and Stanley Kubrick’s producer Jan Harlan. The Expo will continue on in the spirit of its original founding principal of delivering the best events across the creative industries.”

Last November, The Great Northern Creative Expo presented over ten short and feature film premieres from both established and emerging talents. A new programme of almost 15 workshops and industry masterclasses proved popular across both UCLan’s student base and from attendees from farther afield. Highlights included a working masterclass from Stanley Kubrick’s producer, Jan Harlan; a feature screening of the independent motion picture Bliss! with director Rita Osei; and a guest lecture from the General Manager of BBC North, Adrian Mills.

Risa Jaroslow at The Great Northern Creative Expo 2018 (#TGNCE18)

In addition, the 2018 edition of the Expo also welcomed the local, national and international talents of Afrodeutsche, Jamie Badminton, Andrew David Barker, Steve Barker, Matthew Bennett, Paul Birchall, Abbie Bradshaw, David Bunting, Andy Chapman, Salma Chaudhry, Kezia Davis, Stuart Felton, Kieran Fletcher, FMA+12 Gage, Jing Fu, Flora Gillet, the Global Sound Movement, Candy Guard, Dominic Hodge, David Hothersall, Tristan Hunt, Risa Jaroslow, Johnny Jay, Chris Leslie, Gerry Linford, Karen Livesey, Lorna McCoid, Iakovos Pangopoulos, Patrick Pulsinger, Dr Theresa Saxon, Greg Saxton, Fiona Shields, Hannah Spikings and Mark Strange.

Fiona Shields, Head of Photography at The Guardian, at the Fieldwork Conference at #TGNCE18

Attendances at the Preston Campus for the Expo in 2018 reached above 1500 for the first time in the Expo’s six year history. 

For the first time in 2018, The Great Northern Creative Expo launched Expo Extra, creating satellite events running outside of the Expo’s traditional one-week format. The first Expo Extra events included a filmmaking masterclass from Lancaster-based production company, Intense Productions, who released horror-thriller RedCon-1 into British cinemas in September; and an Audience with broadcaster Chris Packham. Both events, held on the university’s Preston campus, were sold out and were warmly received by audiences.

(Left to right) Host Bill McCoid, with Iakovos Panagopoulos, Andy Chapman, Lorna McCoid and Matthew Bennett at the Three Northern Premieres event. 

TGNCE – 2018 Award Winners

The Great Northern Creative Expo attracts some of the countries leading talents and we invite you to enjoy the opportunity to share time and space with other Photographers, Filmmakers, Performers, Journalists, Writers and Creators. Various prizes are handed out on the evening including TGNCE Outstanding Award 2018 and TGNCE Lifetime Achievement Award 2018. All are welcome to attend the evening, which is a true celebration of the talents we have here in the Faculty of Culture and the Creative Industries at UCLan.

The Great Northern Creative Expo 2018 Award Winners

The Elizabeth Burns Prize for Scriptwriting
Presented to Richard Albiston by Bill McCoid & Steve Lawson

Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Scriptwriting
Sue De Gruyther and Christine Tuson

Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in TV Production
Dean Flynn
Nominees: Ryan Mallows & Chloe Francom

Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Animation
Mario Kkounnous
Nominees: Jaz Sperring & Michael Tharme

Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Photography
Nicola Lewis-Dixon

Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Games Design
Jakob MacDonald
Nominees: Peter Dimitrov and James Moorby

Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Dance
Sophie Leigh Barrow
Nominees: Hazel Loftus and Carmen Robins

Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Acting
Joshua Besso
Nominees: Tattiana Haslam and Amy Hurst

Outstanding Contribution to BA Screenwriting – Short Film
Hannah Arthur

Outstanding Contribution to MA Screenwriting – Short Film
Kezia Davis

Best Script BA Screenwriting – Short Film
Kelsey Cromwell

Confucius Institute Special Recognition Award
WINNER: The Global Sound Movement

The Arriva Rail Northern Creative Expo Outstanding Achievement Award 2018
Matt Steele

The Arriva Rail Northern Creative Expo Lifetime Achievement Award 2018
Alexander Callaghan

The Awards for; Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Music, Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Film Production, Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Media Production and Special Achievement of Creative Excellence in Continuing Drama, were not awarded in 2018.

Bill McCoid talks Kubrick, Spielberg and more with Jan Harlan

Stanley Kubrick’s executive producer Jan Harlan to shared stories from his 50-year career.

Veteran film producer Jan Harlan made his first ever visit to the North West to speak at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) as part of this year’s edition of The Great Northern Creative Expo.

The 81-year-old, who worked with Stanley Kubrick on most of his films, spoke in an ‘Audience with’ style event hosted by UCLan scriptwriting lecturer Bill McCoid. The event took place in UCLan’s Media Factory Creative Innovation Zone to a packed house.

Harlan discussed his career at length, which has spanned almost fifty years and shared many of his life experiences. He was Kubrick’s executive producer for Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut and was an assistant to the producer for A Clockwork Orange. In addition, Harlan has also worked as an executive producer for Steven Spielberg on the 2001 film AI: Artificial Intelligence.

Jan Harlan’s visit is part of UCLan’s The Great Northern Creative Expo, which aims to showcase creative talent in media, film, photography, journalism and performance at the University.  The event began as a platform to promote top quality student work and now attracts well-known national and international names, allowing the local community, students and staff to come together and enjoy a wide variety of events.

Three Northern Premieres launch at TGNCE18

Three brand new short films premiered at The Great Northern Creative Expo on the evening of the 12th November.

A Still Sunrise, The Breach and The Art Collector were warmly received by a full house on the opening night of UCLan’s leading creative event.

The Art Collector, written and directed by Lorna McCoid, on the big screen

The film screenings were followed by an interesting Q&A session, hosted by UCLan’s own Bill McCoid. Taking part were Iakovos Panagopoulos, director of A Still Sunrise who had flown in from his home in Greece to attend the event, along with the screenwriter Andy Chapman; Matthew Bennett, writer of The Breach, and Lorna McCoid writer & director of The Art Collector.

Matthew Bennett had performed earlier in the day as one half of the rap duo FMA + 12 Gage, and officially opened The Great Northern Creative Expo 2018.

A Still Sunrise Poster

A Still Sunrise (written by Andy Chapman)
Synopsis: Locked into an abusive marriage, Janice is still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her son. Unable to leave her home and suffering daily abuse from her husband, Ben. Janice dreams of escaping her homemade nightmare. But when the dead walk the earth, nowhere is truly safe. With sanity beginning to crack, it’s only a matter of time before someone opens the door to a past long buried. 

The Breach Title Card

The Breach (written by Matthew Bennett)
Synopsis: ‘The second film from the team behind the award winning short film – Patient 13’, An unsuspecting woman receives a silent and creeping visitor…

The Art Collector Poster

The Art Collector (written and directed by Lorna McCoid)

Synopsis: The Art Collector owns an artwork that is priceless. It can’t be touched. It is the pride of his collection. Oslo, an artificial intelligence, is fascinated by it, after all he wants to feel human.

Local act, FMA + 12 Gage, launches Creative Expo at UCLan

Local music duo FMA + 12 GAGE  were VIP guest stars when they opened The Great Northern Creative Expo at UCLan earlier today.

Father and son Matthew Bennett and son Callum were delighted to be invited to be the launching act for the event which showcases the work of UCLan graduates. Matthew said: “It went really well, We did the gig on the fourth floor of The Media Factory. It was an honour to be chosen to do that.”

For UCLan graduate Matthew the day was especially important because it also saw the screening of his second film entitled “The Breach”, which he is hoping will repeat the success of his first award winning film “Patient 13”.

The creative Preston duo have had a busy year. Matthew, who was diagnosed as autistic just a few years ago, is proud they will be performing at the “Autism’s Got Talent” roadshow in New Brighton on November 23.

This autumn the duo also launched its debut album entitled “Parental Advisory.” Matthew said: “People have been telling us that they are blown away by our album … it’s such a good feeling when people are passionate about something we’ve spent so long working on.”

Words by Fiona Finch

The 2018 Programme

The Great Northern Creative Expo returns for it’s 2018 edition with a progressive and inclusive celebration of Northern creativity. We are once again proud to present a wide variety of talents from The University of Central Lancashire and beyond from every corner of the Creative Industries including Film, Photography, Performance, Music, Media and Journalism. The Expo’s wide array of events, conferences and screenings will take place over the six days at venues across Preston, including UCLan’s state of the art Media Factory.


The Great Northern Creative Expo continues to attract some of the country’s leading creative talents and continues in it’s founding commitment to offer student, staff and guests this unique opportunity to share in their common passion to present their work to an audience and gain invaluable insight into their chosen careers from industry professionals at the pinnacle of their careers. 

This fifth edition of the Expo promises to be it’s most diverse in its breadth of programmed events and is again able to offer this fantastic opportunity through the generosity of The University of Central Lancashire and our other Expo Partners.

New Year, New Name!

The great northern creative experience is back again for 2018 under a brand new name, The Great Northern Creative Expo!

The Great Northern Creative Expo will run from Monday 12th-Saturday 17th November. The Expo’s wide array of events, conferences and screenings will take place over the six days at venues across Preston, including UCLan’s state of the art Media Factory.

The Great Northern Creative Expo has evolved from a commitment to promote and showcase the creative talent that has been developed at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and to also introduce to the world, the fantastic students and professionals that we have working at the University, whilst opening our doors to the city, to the North and the world beyond.

Once again, the expo will introduce a variety of talent which will include film, photography, media and journalism with performances, workshops, masterclasses, music, monologues, networking, animation and inspiration to one and all.

The expo has attracted some of the leading creative talent (nationally and internationally) and we are pleased to offer students, academics and the general public the opportunity to share a stimulating experience of creative talent which can be viewed, evaluated and enjoyed by everyone!

The programme of events is yet to be announced but the Expo will conclude with the Arriva Rail Festival Awards.

Lancashire Stuntman stars in Zombie Apocalypse Film

With 17 years of experience under his belt, stuntman, producer, actor and writer, Mark Strange has travelled the world and worked with some of the biggest names in the films industry.

He appeared at the Great Northern Creative Festival to talk about his new role in a zombie apocalypse war film.

Redcon-1 is a collaboration between some huge names from across the pond including Carlos Gallardo, frequent collaborator of director Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Eastwood, creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic book

From a young age, Strange was interested in all the big action movies, like RamboRocky and Predator.  Mark Strange was very focused on being like his idols and emphasised the need for “a childhood hero or a goal to work towards”.

Mr Strange has worked across the globe in all markets from the UK scene to even spending three months in Hong Kong where he fulfilled a major dream by working with industry legend Jackie Chan on The Medallion and Twin Effect, which was directed by Star Wars Rogue One actor, Donnie Yen.

Mark Strange looks back fondly on his time with Jackie Chan and he even said“The Jackie Chan experience was a massive thing for me at the time because I was such a big fan growing up and he was such a big influence in my career and again working with him closely in an action sequence, I learnt so much from him.”

As part of the back to back shoots for Twin Effect and The Medallion, Strange was attached to the front of an ambulance which rammed him into a chain link fence and Mark said: “It was my best acting ever that unfortunately wasn’t used in the final film.”

Back in the UK, he was a major driving force in creating a brutal and realistic fighting film known as 12 (although in some countries it was known as Underground) which was a pure action movie that did not even have a script when they started shooting but instead had a major focus on fight scenes.

Mark Strange said: “We shot four fights over five days which was hard work,” but he later added that it was worth it as the film was then funded based on the fight scenes alone and went onto be a big hit globally for him.

Strange has not restricted himself to the silver screen though as he has worked on everything from Stan Lee’s Lucky Man to Coronation Street as their fight planner. Talking about his time on Lucky Man, he talked about how nice James Nesbitt was throughout the filming process and his constant applause between takes being a real highlight.

Most actors fear being typecasted in certain roles throughout their careers but Mark said:” I love the assassin and solider parts and all that sort of stuff and I keep getting those parts.”

When asked how to get into the industry Mark said: “I’d say just go out and do it and meet as many people as possible,” he added: “You’ve got to put the work in.”

Words by Daniel Culkin

Ovidio Assonitis discusses his career with Bill McCoid

Ovidio Assonitis has worked with mega film stars such as Al Pacino and James Cameron. Among films he’s worked on include “Scent Of A Woman” and “Beyond The Door”. Speaking at an event at the Great Northern Creative Festival, the tycoon details his journey from a small time film distributor to a multi award winning film producer.

Born in Egypt, raised in Italy with Greek parents, it’s fair to say Ovidio Assonitis is truly an international film producer but a very successful operator in such a saturated field who unsurprisingly speaks four languages.

Back in 1974, his film “Beyond The Door” at the time was the highest grossing independent film. It’s no small feat taking into consideration that at the time, Ovidio had only been in film production for a mere two years. Such major feats early on ultimately paved the way to a highly illustrious career.

He’s got an impressive roster to show off too. Just to name only a couple, he has worked with the likes of Al Pacino and James Cameron.

Ovidio’s career in film began in the 1960’s, but albeit in a slightly different area. He started a distribution company in South East Asia, with multiple offices in locations such as South Korea and Bangkok. His partners included the brother of the King of Thailand.

This venture was going well but his desire lead him to go into film production.

He fondly visualises the distant past and draws a distinction between film production and distribution. “I had the chance to see the meaning behind the pictures distributed”.

It’s not all been glitz and glamour on the way, his most impactful movie to date, “Scent Of A Woman”, was testament to his relentless drive and determination was tested to the limits.

In Ovidio’s eyes, the film would be a success. So, he went along a bought the rights to it. However, it was only he who saw potential in the idea. The supposed crew who were in place to work on his next film disagreed.

He said: “One day they would say yes we can do this and then the next, they would revert back to no it won’t work”.

He spent a whopping 10 years to convince people it would be a good movie to produce. Yes, 10 years. He also realised the need for a star to lead, he aimed for the cream of the crop and by God did it work. Jack Nicholson was heavily interested in playing the main role but was already tied up into a contract.

So, Ovidio just went and casually landed an actor called Al Pacino to play the role. He candidly describes him as “a nice but strange guy”. The movie proved to be a hit, generating £130 million worldwide and holds an impressive 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

He also takes pride in discovering and promoting young talent, somehow, he convinced the prolific movie star Chuck Norris to make a transition to television. This resulted in Norris starring in Walker Texas Ranger, an iconic TV series adored by households worldwide. It also can’t be forgotten he gave Al Pacino his big break in the previously mentioned “Scent Of A Woman”.

Ovidio is also not afraid of making executive decisions. He notoriously fell out with the world renowned film director James Cameron. He says of the relationship that they “never really got on from the first day”. This culminated in firing Cameron after just one week of shooting on Piranha’s 2. He admitted that Cameron had a great vision and all the elements of being a great.

The famed producer is also not afraid to turn future stars away. Among a varied list, he declined Sharon Stone a role in a movie. She went on to a very successful career, starring in films such as Total Recall and Casino.

When it comes to giving advice to aspiring film producers, his passion for the field evidently comes across. He venomously reminds the audience “you need to have passion, it’s a difficult job. You are not selling goods, you are selling dreams”. He also explained why he works in such a competitive field: “You do it to communicate to the world your dreams and to express yourself. It’s an addiction.”

Words by Issan Khan