• Industry

Estuary On Film 2023

Emerging film-makers premiere Screening event. Sunday 5th March, Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, Southend-on-Sea.

Estuary on Film 2023

Backstage Centre Director, Brian Warrens, visited the City of Southend on Sea last Sunday for a screening event featuring four short films that were successful in receiving a grant from Creative Estuary and the BFI Screen South Hub project ‘Estuary on Film’.

Arts Council England and the Department for Culture Media and Sport added extra weight to the premier screening event.


First out of the ‘can’ was Dartford-based screenwriter and director, Charlie Tidmas, who presented Ceremony, which centres on a young trans man hounded by a gang of men seemingly out for his blood in an unusual ceremony of acceptance, masculinity, and integration into their tribe.

Charlie Tidmas

Filmed in black and white, Tidmas has created a short film, packed with energy and building on tension throughout the early chase sequence in which the central character appears fearful for their lives as the hunted, and soon-to-be victim of a violent assault yet to unfold.

Instead, we are taken into a ritualistic conclusion about acceptance, which Tidmas captures superbly in the cinematography and unites us in celebrating acceptance.

‘The Red Ball’

As one clapper board snaps shut, the next one opens. Writer and director George Morgan presented The Red Ball, a superb, and quite frankly artistically beautiful animation tackling the story of a second-generation Black British teen forced to migrate from Brixton across the Estuary towards Essex and subsequently confront his attitude towards grief following a family tragedy.

George Morgan

The narrative is expertly animated by Claire Adele Winter, Wing Lan Lilian Fu, Ana Caro Sabogal, and illustrator Michael Young. The Red Ball provides a central focus for grief, tragedy, loss, and more.

Morgan’s astute observations are able to provide a sense of understanding and closure following a death. How children, in particular, are vulnerable and we as adults have a duty to keep them feeling safe and secure. This is complicated by early reactions from the parents who are frustrated by the red ball is central to the surviving child’s next journey in life and in that upheaval created by moving.

Morgan does provide a sense of closure in the finale of this high-quality, extremely well-illustrated work.

‘Halfway Between the Land and the Sea’

Halfway Between the Land and the Sea gives us the unworldly Shaun who has never left Essex before; but when an unexpected trip opens his mind and viewpoint, he begins to see more clearly where he is from, and more importantly where he could go.

Shaun’s bike trip traverses the river Thames, the Creative Estuary’s main artery, and feeds a desire to explore new pastures.

Vickie Donoghue and Natalie Mitchell’s observations and capture of what is a reality for many people are visually treated with scale and scope by director Scott Hurran as Essex and Kent landmarks form a backdrop of landmark structures, and a brief but excellent cameo from Thomas Coombes, an Essex actor on the up (Luther The Fallen Sun, Boiling Point) helps to remind everyone involved in Creative Estuary how much talent is captured within these shores.

And finally…….

‘Essex Girls’

Essex Girls closed this superb afternoon of new filmmaking was Busayo Ige’s challenge to the popular stereotype of young women from the county. This film not only takes us on a journey through the eyes of a Black British girl but also unfolds the meaning of friendships.

Set in 2009, the historical referencing in the film reminds us of a time not too long ago from a scene where a teacher is openly racist in front of his class of offended students. From this encounter, a new friendship forms as solidarity emerges to fight back. This scene could have been from a time back when British racism was outspoken, in our faces, and simply put up with by the powers that be.

This is a packed film, and the study of friendship, family, and solidarity is expertly filmed by Margate-based writer and director Yero Timi-Biu. The film explores stereotyping as it presents a teenager’s introduction to finding romance, experiencing peer pressure, and making difficult decisions about friendship. It further reminds us about our family and the importance of a parent supporting their child unconditionally, as much as it comforts us to know long-term true friendships last for life.

Creative Estuary/Screen South – A co-commission

The Estuary on Film Short Film Commission is an exciting new talent development scheme, supported by Creative Estuary, which offers commissioning opportunities for emerging Artists/Filmmakers to produce creatively driven short films.

The scheme is for filmmakers and artists who are based in the Estuary and is supported and funded by Creative Estuary. Creative Estuary supports a wide range of cultural projects from commissions for emerging artists activity to large-scale commissions and festivals with a diverse mix of partnerships that support the cultural and creative growth of the area.

Estuary on Film awarded £5000 each to 4 filmmakers to create a high-quality, bold, and creative short film that ignited a spark, and reflects the diverse talent in the Estuary. With funding comes support, which was provided by Screen South, industry partners, who encouraged the artistic ambitions to be realised and achieved.

If you are interested in developing a Screen-based programme and need advice and guidance you can discover more at:





The Backstage Centre

The Backstage Centre

The Backstage Centre in Purfleet-on-Thames is a busy production and rehearsal studio providing access to training with our education partners. If you are interested in discovering more, you can attend regular open events for post-16 and Adult education, or digitally thumb through a prospectus to find out more, here they are:

16+ Education and Training

Higher Education

Adult Courses