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Creative England Live 2016: Stories About Place - The Importance of Regional Storytelling

From Creative England’s inception four years ago, a central pillar of our beliefs has been that regional creative talent is not only in abundance but is essential to maintaining the country’s creative diversity and economy; keeping England in the pioneering, world-leading position it’s in today.

Our annual event,'CE Live 2016: Catalyse' is just around the corner and we have a hoard of creative, innovative, collaborative companies and individuals in attendance on the day. True to our core belief in regional creativity, one of our panel sessions, “Stories About Place” will explore the role of regional storytelling in narratives across film and television in England.

Consider the success of iconic regional films like 'This Is England' or 'The Full Monty' or the more recent recognition for Creative England-supported '45 Years' set in Norfolk; consider, too the unwavering endurance of regional soap operas like 'Coronation Street', 'Emmerdale' and 'Hollyoaks'. All of these productions serve to show that despite being set somewhere supposedly “undiscovered” from a global perspective, the locations ground the universal stories against their backdrop and help them to say something nuanced to a wider audience. For instance, without the socio-economic climate that faced the North of England at the time, the themes of depression, fathers’ rights, and homosexuality present in 'The Full Monty' in all its gritty, working class glory would never have been born; or at least not fully formed. And the same is true for countless other productions.

Our “Stories About Place” panel will be made up of a range of film and television industry experts from across the English regions to give their take on stories involving place; how crucial regional diversity is, the practical implications of being a creative outside of Greater London and more.

Chairing the panel is Nev Pierce (right), film journalist and Editor-at-large at Empire Magazine. On top of a film industry career spanning fifteen years having interviewed stars such as Jack Nicholson, Nev is also a director and a screenwriter with an original commissioned work in development. He previously edited Total Film magazine and has written for The Sunday Times, BAFTA, Esquire, the LA Times and others. His shorts, ‘Bricks’, ‘Ghosted’ and ‘Lock’ are set to premier this year.

Six others will join Pierce in discussion as panellists, including Head of Production at Warp Films, Barry Ryan. Barry’s role at Warp Films involves overseeing all company output. He has previously worked as a producer on ‘Grow Your Own’ and co-producer on cult hit, ‘Kill List’ and ‘For Those in Peril’. Pat Conor, Head of Development & Events for BBC England will also sit on the panel. Having begun her career as a music journalist for BBC Radio Bristol, Pat’s recent projects include ‘The Great North Passion’ for BBC One, the ‘BBC Music Awards’ in Birmingham and ‘6 Music Festival’ in Bristol amongst others. She works across various genres to source and reflect talent and a “sense of place” from all corners of the country.

In addition, Sheffield-based writer and director, Rachel Tunnard will be joining the panel. Rachel wrote and directed the BAFTA and BIFA-nominated pilot short, ‘Emotional Fusebox’ starring 'Broadchurch' actress Jodie Whittaker. Rachel has finished working on the feature length adaptation, ‘Adult Life Skills’, which is set in the English regions. She is also developing her second feature film with Film Four alongside a TV series for Channel 4.

Producer of ITV’s ‘Beowulf’, Will Nicholson will join the others to discuss his experience of shooting in the regions. Will has also been producer on ITV’s ‘Vera’, ‘Monroe’ (starring James Nesbitt) and Teamworx’s film, ‘The Other Child’, so he has extensive knowledge and experience of shooting in the North of England for television and film. Paul Fraser, the writer of feature film ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ (directed by Shane Meadows, starring Paddy Consadine) will sit on the panel, too. Paul is a screenwriter and director from Staffordshire. He has also written screenplays for ‘Heartlands’ and ’24 7: Twenty-four Seven’. As a director, Paul has made many short films and music videos and won an award for his short film, ‘Scummyman’ of Artic Monkeys’ music video fame. He is currently developing scripts with Warp Films and Tomboy Films.

The final member of the “Stories About Place” panel is Paul Abbot, a BAFTA winning English television screenwriter and producer from Lancashire. Best known for his work on Channel 4 series, ‘Shameless’, Paul is also a creator on the U.S adaptation of the series and has written for 2015 television series ‘No Offence’ set in Manchester and Sky Atlantic’s ‘Hit & Miss’ starring Chloë Sevigny. Paul also set up his own international production company, Abottvision to create world-class drama with offices in Manchester, London and L.A.

With such a brilliant line up that covers all facets of television and filmmaking across the English regions, this panel is sure to be unmissable.

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  • CE Live 2016