2017 Programme Launch

The full programme of events for The Great Northern Creative Festival has been unveiled.

The programme for The Great Northern Creative Festival, in partnership with its principal sponsor Arriva Rail North, has launched presenting this year’s diverse selection of special guests, films and events.

The Festival will screen an array of fiction and documentary features, including the British premiere of Christopher Sykes’ award-winning documentary Golan: A Farewell to Mr Cinema and a special preview screening of SOLO!. There will also be screenings of short films, including documentary, live action and animated works.

The 2017 festival features a stellar line-up of directors, cast and crew to take part in career interviews, Screen Talks, Q&As and Industry Talks, including George Costigan (Shirley Valentine; Rita, Sue and Bob Too), Henry Normal (PhilomenaRed Dwarf) John Thomson (Cold FeetThe Curse of the Were-Rabbit) & Ovidio Assonitis (Piranha Part Two: The Spawning; Beyond the Door).

Taking place over 6 days, the Festival’s screenings are at venues across Preston, including UCLan’s state of the art Media Factory.

We round off The Great Northern Creative Festival with the Arriva Rail Festival Awards. Various prizes will be handed out on the evening including TGNCF Outstanding Award 2017 and TGNCF Lifetime Achievement Award.

UCLan’s Bill McCoid is ‘happy not to be famous,’ as he works with celebrity names

Whilst Bill McCoid has spent half of his career chasing fame, he has never wanted to be famous himself. He admits: “I’m happy not to be famous. Fame is something you have to deal with and it is not what people imagine it to be. Some deal with it very well, but for others, it can change them.”

But that has not stopped the 60-year-old, who teaches screen writing for film and TV at UCLan, using his journalistic instincts to pursue up-coming celebrities. Proving he had a good nose for talent, he was the first person to interview comedians Eddie Izzard and Paul Merton and had caught up with Rory Bremner in his early days.

Bill says: “I have always been into writing. I soon found out that if you wrote things people would pay you. If I went out to a gig, I would write a review. If I saw a famous person I would interview them.

“I started to earn money from that. I was the first journalist to interview Eddie Izzard and Paul Merton as I saw them in clubs in London. I was also one of the early journalists to interview Rory Bremner. “I started off writing for Melody Maker, which no longer exists, and Stage, which is a newspaper for actors. I worked for other papers, such as Manchester Evening News and national Sunday papers as a freelance journalist.

“One of my most interesting articles for the MEN was with Alistair Taylor, music producer Brian Epstein’s right-hand man. He gave me the inside story on The Beatles as he was there all the way through their journey.” Bill’s dedication and enthusiasm enabled him to land a job at Granada TV in the 1990s.

He says: “In the 1990s I got a break at Granada TV as a researcher and in production. I met some amazing people – some famous people and people with stories to tell. I had incredible access to people. I got to spend the day with George Best as he was on one of our shows. He had a reputation for being naughty and disappearing. So I had to keep track of him and make sure I knew where he was. “He had been a hero of mine as a child as he was such a good footballer. I was hanging out with him – and I got paid for it. He was such a lovely guy and for a day I was his buddy.”

Working at Granada enabled Bill to delve into important issues and even raise awareness about social injustices. He worked on a documentary featuring Alex Alexandrowicz, who was arrested for aggravated burglary and was given two life sentences and spent 22 years in prison.

Alex had ran away from his violent family to live in Preston, breaking into houses to steal food and sleeping rough in coal cellars. One break-in led to a year in a young person’s prison for aggravated burglary, after a woman opened a front door as he tried to use a pen-knife.

This time, however, he was handed two discretionary life sentences for aggravated burglary and grievous bodily harm, and given Category A security classification. He was unfairly treated because the authorities believed he was a Soviet spy. The father-of-two adds: “The great thing about working there is that if you had a passion or issue, you would put it out there on TV and reach millions of people. “One of the greatest things I did was make a documentary about a man who was stuck in prison and should not have been. He had lived in Preston and his story featured in the Lancashire Evening Post at the time. I went to the paper’s offices to research the story on microfiche. “Our documentary pressure in the Home Office in 1993 and a year later he was released. It is great doing these things and knowing I can make a difference to someone’s life.”

Bill also claims he was involved in THAT Michael Howard interview in 1997 where Jeremy Paxman asked him the same question – ‘did you threaten to over rule him?’ 12 times.

He says: “I had been working with investigative journalist and television editor Ray Fitzwalter for a few years. “There was a famous interview where Jeremy Paxman was talking to Michael Howard about the possible dismissal of the governor of Parkhurst Prison, John Marriott. Howard was asked by Paxman the same question over and over again, but he would not answer it. “The interview was based on a programme I researched about the prison service.

“I was also the first person to put Harry Hill on a TV show on Granada in 1997. I saw him in a club in London and it went on from there.” Now a lecturer at UCLan, Bill admitted he never envisaged teaching others. He adds: “It was never an ambition of mine. “While at Granada I wanted to spent more time writing, so I applied to lecture part-time at Salford University. I never expected to get the job, but I did and I really enjoyed it. “It was always my ambition to run a small TV channel and I was involved in Channel M with the students. That then became a full time job. “After Salford, I joined UCLan 10 years ago.”

Bill’s talent doesn’t end there, as he has been in a band and rubbed shoulders with likes of Caroline Aherne, Steve Coogan and Dave Gorman in the early days of their career. He adds: “When I was studying at Edgehill University I was in a band called The Nice Men. We did some gigs and brought some singles out. It started as a laugh and we managed to take it a bit further. “One of our songs, Nuclear Summer, will be reissued on a compilation album by Cherry Red Records. The company is bringing out songs which did well in the indie charts. That song came in at number 2 in the indie charts in 1980. “During some of our gigs we were on the bill with people who later became famous, such as Everything But the Girl, Teardrop Explodes and A Flock of Seagulls.”

Bill, who lives in Southport, has also written several plays, including Mourning TV, which was nominated Best New Play by the Manchester Evening News in 1992. At the age of 23 he wrote and directed Speech Therapy, which was the winner of Most Original Play, in the Liverpool Centenary Festival. He is now working on a series of children’s books, as well as a short film, with his daughter Lorna, 19, who works for a film company in London.

He adds: “In November I intend to publish a children’s book – Herbert to the Rescue. I have a series of books for children aged seven to nine written about Albert Snodgrass who is half man, half lizard. He is a bad character. The pictures are drawn by my daughter Lorna. “I am also working on a short film with Lorna – The Art Collector – where artificial intelligence takes over humans. I hope to get it finished in September and I intend to submit it to the BAFTAs. “I was recently in Berlin with my UCLan students making some films to put into The Great Northern Creative Festival.”

With such a varied career, Bill is certainly never bored. He admits: “I love all of it. I would not want to cut any of these things out. I love doing music; I love writing about people. “I also love teaching. It is a great privilege if you can persuade people that they can do something when they doubt themselves. “I feel very proud when I see the name of one of my previous students on the credits of a programme.”


The Collaborators (Premiere): Review

The Collaborators premieres as part of The Great Northern Creative Festival 2015.

Waiting in a hall, brimming with excitement were the cast and crew members of The Collaborators as they patiently waited for the film that they’ve worked extremely hard on. Speaking to various crew members I quickly figured out that everyone had put their heart into the production and are proud of their achievements in the space of a short amount of time. The overall atmosphere made me anticipate what was about to come and I was surely not disappointed.

The concept of the narrative being about two students who, after leaving university because of a bust-up with their teacher, accidentaly commit murder. The story then follows them trying to escape what they’ve done by heading to Newcastle where they will leave the country.

With low budget films, I seem to think that the problem usually is finding actors who can play the role convincingly. I was pleasantly surprised with the female duo who were the main characters – Crista Bell (Roisin Mccusker) and Suze (Kerry Carroll). They meshed well on screen, it felt like a real friendship and the dominant and oppressive roles suited well to each character. I could see a future career for both actresses. Worth a mention as well would be the lecturer (Johnny Vivash) at the beginning of the film, for his realistic approach which was convincingly with the comedic element added!

A variety of camera shots were used that maintained a high-quality standard, the stand-out moment for me was when Suze was crying in the car after an incident. The shot reminded me of a scene which featured Heath Ledger’s Joker in Dark Knight, the silence whilst she’s crying gives the effect of an eerie nature. Without giving away too many spoilers, another memorable scene was etched into everyone’s mind – but you’ll have to watch the film for that!

The film was well produced and directed, the different locations used in and around Preston were used convincingly in order for the audience to think that they were in-fact travelling across the country! It was a very clean cut film, in the fact that the editing was crisp, visually and sound. The film worked well flowing from one scene to another which takes a lot of organisation. To add to this, there were uses of a number of special effects that were convincing to the audience and didn’t look out of place at any one point.

For me, it reminded me of a number of films but the idea itself was unique and worked excelent! The script was well written and the actor/actresses were able to adapt the script and play their characters with a realistic touch. The film was made with the British Cinema touch – a dark and dreary concept but the comedy beckons throughout!

Obviously by watching the film, we see that talent beams on screen and off-screen and to create what has been done and to such a high standard had me excited. I felt like after I watched the film, I wanted to just speak about it! I would love to see the talent go forth and make other films because I’d definitely be watching their progress as they carry on!

I want to thank all the members of crew who spoke to me and ultimately the invite to the premiere! I want to wish them all the best of luck in the future.

Words by Caitlin Mclaren

Famous author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce opened Great Northern Creative Festival

A leading author and screenwriter has told a group of University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) students that they are the future of the industry.

Frank Cottrell Boyce was the guest of honour at the Great Northern Creative Festival where he spoke to budding writers in a question and answer session. He officially opened the festival before a screening of his classic 2002 film 24 Hour Party People.

He is one of the most respected screenwriters working in the English film industry. His career has seen him work alongside the likes of Danny Boyle on the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. He has been the screenwriter on films and has written for some of the most classic shows on our screens today, in the likes of Doctor Who and Coronation Street.

“The students here are ‘tomorrow’; this is the hatchery and the nursery where talent is born, hatched and nurtured. Coming here and meeting them is like looking into the future.”

Speaking to the audience Frank said: “The reason I am excited to be here at UCLan is that the students here are ‘tomorrow’; this is the hatchery and the nursery where talent is born, hatched and nurtured. Coming here and meeting them is like looking into the future, it’s a fantastic privilege to be here. If they can gain anything from me, from this old scarred body, then that’s fine with me.”

His visit kick-started the free four day media extravaganza. The event brought together some of the biggest creative talents in the north and from across the UK, while showcasing the outstanding creative talents of UCLan students in media, film, photography and journalism.

Over the four days students and members of the public attended a mixture of workshops, pitching sessions, industry talks and specialist lectures.

GREAT NORTHERN CREATIVE EXTRAVAGANZA

A free four-day media extravaganza is taking place at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to showcase creative talent.

The Great Northern Creative Festival, which runs from 22 to 25 April, will bring together some of the biggest creative talents in the north and from across the UK, as well as showcasing the outstanding creative talents of UCLan students in media, film, photography and journalism.

Over the four days students can attend a mixture of workshops, pitching sessions, industry talks and specialist lectures. Most of the events are also open to members of the general public.

Opening the festival is renowned author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who will do a Q&A with the audience in Darwin Lecture Theatre, before a screening of his classic 2002 film 24 Hour Party People. He is one of the most respected screenwriters working in the English film industry. His career has seen him work alongside the likes of Danny Boyle on the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. He has been the screenwriter on films and has written for some of the most classic shows on our screens today, in the likes of Doctor Who and Coronation Street.

He said: “I’m delighted to support this year’s UCLan Student Creative Festival to offer support and advice to its creative students. Events like this are absolutely vital to help young creative people have a voice and motivate them to get out there and have a future in the creative industry.”

Also passing on her invaluable experience is Red Production’s Emily Feller. Emily has script edited and worked in development on dramas such as Bodies, Emmerdale, Scott and Bailey, and The Driver. She has recently been promoted to in-house Producer at Red Production Company having overseen Russell T Davies’ new E4 drama, Banana. Emily will talk about her career from script development to producing and will offer career advice. Tying into Emily’s event is ‘Mediating the North’ with Dr Peter Atkinson and Professor Ewa Mazierska. The academic symposium will analyse the huge BBC hits Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax.

A student only event, CJAM 2015, will see industry professionals from across the board visit, with undergraduates getting the chance to pitch their ideas and network.

Andrew Ireland, Executive Dean of Journalism and Media at UCLan, said: “This is a really exciting time to be involved in the creative industries at UCLan. Events such as the Great Northern Creative Festival give our students amazing access to top industry professionals and engage in debates and career planning. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our talented students and their work.”