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Peter Cliff

Creative Director

Holovis

Tell us about your career

I always wanted to work in the attractions industry and got my first job at the age of 16 as a street performer at Alton Towers Resort, which was 15 miles from where I lived. It was a dream come true. I loved performing and at the age of 18 I secured a place at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts to study acting. As much as I loved it, I missed the attractions industry so when the opportunity came up to return to Alton Towers I took it.

For the next 11 years, I worked across various roles including entertainment experience manager, creative manager then finally global creative lead for live shows and entertainment. In 2016 I joined experience designer Holovis as creative director.

What was your first role in the industry – and your current one?

My first role in the industry was as a street performer at Alton Towers Resort when I was 16, entertaining the queue lines as a pirate and a whole host of other characters. My dream at that age was to create theatricality within the theme park context.

Skip forwards 15 years and I’m still doing that but through a very different guise as creative director at Holovis. Here my role involves working with an absolutely brilliant team of creatives, media producers, software developers and engineers and being at the forefront of cutting edge technology. Our mission is to create a new genre of entertainment that fuses emerging technologies, while keeping them invisible to the guest, with personalised experiences and the illusion of real magic, immersing them to a whole new level whilst creating lifelong memories with family and friends.

What are your goals?

I want to make a difference and change an industry. The term ‘immersive’ is overused so I’d like to redefine that category of entertainment, establish what it really is and use next- generation technologies to create it.

I share this passion with the team at Holovis and our collective goal as a company is to entertain, inspire and give the illusion of the guest being surrounded by real magic.

We are aiming to do this on two levels. Firstly, within the attractions themselves for dark rides, domes and immersive environments, and secondly through parkwide interactive gameplay activations. We want guests to be empowered to frictionlessly control their way through an adventure, creating a unique path and discovering something new every time.

What are your favourite and least favourite things about your job?

My favourite thing about the job is working with such a variety of different people, whether that be clients or the team here at Holovis, who are all at the absolute top of their game.

At Holovis, we work across the themed entertainment spectrum, from theme parks to FECs, visitor attractions, brand experiences and museums and across the globe, with offices in UK, US, China and the Ukraine. This means that no two days or briefs are ever the same.

My least favourite thing is the unavoidable time it takes to go from concept to fruition. The wait for something to officially launch can be agonising when you’re so excited to tell the world and see the reaction of guests.

Who has inspired you most?

There isn’t just one person who has inspired me, rather a whole host of people who inspire me every day. As a child, I’d say it was visiting the Orlando parks that inspired me to want to get into this industry and be the person who creates these experiences.

Then I realised that it is never one single person who can be attributed to the success of any of them, it is always a team effort. At Holovis, we are that team and I am always amazed at the skills and talents of my colleagues. We have a unique flat hierarchy so everyone is empowered to work on projects they have an interest in and make a difference, no matter what their role.

What is the best piece of careers advice you’ve been given?

That failure is just a perception. If you embrace so-called failure, you inevitably learn a lesson that can make you better at something in the long run.

Any advice to young people starting out in the industry?

Don’t be afraid to knock on every door, show that you are enthusiastic and ready to learn. It is easy to feel stuck and like there is no next step, so look at all the options, not just the obvious ones. The Holovis door is wide open.

How has the industry changed and what changes would you like to see?

This is a very buoyant time to be in the attractions industry. We're surrounded by new and exciting uses of technology that are driving a very rapid change and allowing creatives to think even more outside the box to create experiences that have never been possible before.

This is a very buoyant time to be in the attractions industry. We're surrounded by new uses of tech

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