• Industry Voices

Happy New Year! @ The Backstage Centre

A snap shot of what’s in store for ’24?

We wish a Happy New Year to all our clients, students, staff, and friends.

Festival News

Horror-on-Sea 2024!

12th – 14th & 19th – 21st January 2024. Park Inn Palace Hotel, Southend-on-Sea.

After building steadily over the previous nine fantastic years, Horror-on-Sea went into the stratosphere for their 10th anniversary in 2023! Never mind the hills, the Park Inn Palace Hotel in the city of Southend was “alive” with more fans, filmmakers, guests, and dealers than ever before, and everyone had a wonderful time!

World Premiere screenings abounded, with special mention to The Last Twitch, the second in the trilogy that began with The Snarling, which itself had famously been born out of the Horror-on-Sea experience! And who would have thought a pop-up video store could inspire a horror feature? But that’s exactly what happened after festival regular Singh Lall opened up his VHS ‘store’ at HoS a few years ago: astonishingly, this spawned its own film at HoS 2023, Video Shop Tales of Terror, an anthology that saw six directors, festival regulars all, producing short films directly inspired by HoS and the Video Store.

How cool is that?! What a great platform to build on as we head into the next 10 years: HoS 2024, here we come!


Making their annual return to this event is the University Centre South Essex tutor, Pat Higgins, delivering a masterclass for budding and experienced horror filmmakers. This is a must-see event and we wish you well, Pat!

Book your tickets here.

Apprenticeship News

Creative Industry apprenticeships are becoming ever-popular, and we are eager to hear from companies and employers based in this region who may be interested in any of the following apprenticeship areas:

Technical Roles for theatre, film, television, and events.

Media, TV, and Film.


Automation and Flying


Marketing & Comms

Venue Management

Commercial Catering

In February we will be hosting a networking event to understand the challenges you are facing for the year ahead, and to discuss your company training needs. To find out more please join our Mailing List.


Hirers Forum – Sustainable Production Values

New for 2024 is our Hirers Forum. Launching this Spring, this is a quarterly touchpoint for our clients to come together, share their production news [NDA’s permitting!!], and talk about the important challenges ahead.

This year the Backstage Centre is continuing to look at the challenges presented by sustainable practices in production and the lessons we can learn from each other, from those across different sectors, and of course from the leading experts in the field.

We are also looking at the emergence of hybrid production values, the technology and expertise required, and what you and your network are looking for as we continue to build more facilities to support the production requirements of this century and beyond.

To express an interest in joining our Hirer’s Forum, please complete the form below:


Regional News


We are delighted to be included in the new Essex Film Office website listing and want to congratulate Gary Kinch and the team for an excellent start to this vital service. We also want to extend our seasonal good wishes to EFO page partners, 3Mills Studios in East London, and CAMA Asset Store who are due to launch their new premises in the city of Southend on Sea very soon.

We also want to extend a warm January ’24 cheer to Lily Streames and the team at the Essex Film Collective who work tirelessly to provide networking and screening opportunities to their membership.

The BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) is host to the regional ICO Film Hubs, and the Film Hub South East organises a range of events and activities to support the rising interest in production, cinema, and themed workshops to support a buoyant region of the UK.


The Backstage Centre is delighted to support and work with the Thurrock Music Services Music Hub under the steady ear and baton of its Director, Roy Dignum. An exciting recent development has been the successful run of DJ Shy Cookie (pictured) workshops for young people in the Thurrock district. Such is its success that the Backstage Centre will be working with Roy and his team to deliver a unique recording experience in our flagship building.

Kingsley¬†“Omo Kings” Omokhuale is the founder and creative director of Softhouse Productions, a new digital multimedia production company in Basildon. Kingsley visited us last year and shared his story and ambitions for his exciting new company.

Kingsley (pictured) is a highly experienced professional in the creative industry. He is skilled in music production, composition, arrangement, singing, songwriting, business development, brand consulting, project management, and creative directing. He has worked on numerous projects with corporate organisations, artists, and creatives in the UK and Nigeria.

Music in Essex has always been exciting and healthy. Many top artists have emerged from our towns and cities, and we look forward to hearing more from our emerging bands, soloists, and ensembles.

Recently, East Tilbury’s Anne-Marie rehearsed for her world and UK ‘The Unhealthy Club Tour’ at the Backstage Centre. She was a delight to welcome to our building and the entire production team made it very much their home.


The friends of the Backstage Centre continue to shine. The Dickens Theatre Company have recently completed a busy schedule leading up to Christmas, and are now rehearsing and preparing for a busy 2024 with their Revision on Tour productions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and A Christmas Carol.

Founder, writer, and Artistic Director, Ryan Philpott (pictured) tells us, “We bring the GCSE texts studied in the classroom off the page and onto the stage. We ignite a passion for these compulsory texts in our young people throughout nationwide learning programmes and unique, accessible adaptations.”

DTC continues to build sustainable partnerships with theatres and schools across the UK through their in-person workshops, post-performance Q&A sessions, Zoom workshops, and streamed performances.

Ryan continues, “Access to theatre and creativity is not always equal but we firmly believe they should be. Our nationwide learning programmes had over 100,000 participations to date, across 100 local authorities.”

We wish everyone a very Happy New Year.