Short version: Trap self in college, accidentally start business.
The year is 2007. A young Owen Seabrook has just installed Windows Movie Maker on his Windows XP Home Edition family computer. He lives on a healthy diet of YouTube videos and Newgrounds animations, and as a result, is not good at football. However, his tastes have changed. He doesn't just want to watch videos anymore. He wants to know how they're made.
As the green bars of the Windows Installer line up like tiny green rectangles queuing for a Tesco self-service, he delves back into his personal files and pores over his new toys - footage recorded of his screen as he plays Club Penguin. Presumably there's a bowl of Frosties somewhere nearby, and so he takes a thoughtful spoonful as he wonders what happens to the video files in this software that would allow him to, as the name suggested, make movies. He clicks over to Internet Explorer and types in a phrase: 'How to use Windows Movie Maker'.
He was addicted. Like a hairdresser trying to pay the bills, he was cutting everything he could find. Slowly he began to learn. Sad music: sad video. Well-timed cut: the scene's a funny one. Editing was his first bike, and he was wearing down his stabilisers - Club Penguin music videos, sketches shot with a 240p micro-USB webcam, maybe the occasional one-minute epic if he could steal his brother's camera-phone for long enough. He now watched his YouTube videos from a whole new perspective; a technical understanding; a 'so that's how I can do that' point of view.
Fast forward. It's a warm Spring afternoon and a Year 8 Owen is fidgeting in his seat. His IT teacher has just revealed that the next few weeks will be spent making films. On what? None other than Ol' Reliable, the Windows Movie Maker. Owen immediately began to assemble jokes, scenes and punchlines in his head. He was bursting with ideas. His hobby he picked up back in '07 had proven useful over the years, and his PowerPoint presentations had never been the same since he discovered video files could be imported. By now Owen had turned so many presentational homework assignments into fifteen-minute odyssies that his confidence in editing nearly matched his inflated opinion of himself.
It didn't stop there. His comedic filmmaking had reached near-critical mass by the end of secondary school. His Head of Year, presumably from a fear of being upstaged, removed his twenty-minute 'Five Years at Rainford High: A PowerPoint' at the last minute, his avant-garde, fourth-wall-breaking comedic timing seen as too volatile for the final year assembly (one well-timed headteacher's face Microsoft-Painted onto Christ's image and the school could face the biggest anarchic uproar of student liberation since Brown V Topeka).
He left high school on top of the world. Bitter from his show's untimely death, he and his co-host Ethan had digitised the entire PowerPoint, presenters and all, and posted it to Facebook to groundbreaking first-weekend success on Results Day. The praise went to his head, just in time for Icarus (Owen) to fly too close to the Sun (the Sun). Next came college.
In the first week of A-Level Media Studies, Owen was faced with a very important question. 'Have you ever used Adobe Premiere Pro before?' He hadn't heard of it. 'Is it like Windows Movie Maker?' he quivered, naked and exposed after discovering a wider world to filmmaking.
If Owen was Rachel McAdams, Premiere was Ryan Gosling. Nothing was going to separate the two after that first day (other than multiple breakups and a memory-destroying ailment). He was editing like he'd never edited before. Chroma Key? Bins? The source monitor? He'd found what he'd been searching for his whole life. But alas, until now he'd only made films on kit as powerful as his Sony Bloggie. Winstanley College had a whole stockroom of cameras waiting to be used and abused. Owen started to work on the skills that would make the final edit so much stronger. Filming, photography, storyboarding. The following year, he picked up After Effects. His was drunk on the power of industry-standard non-linear editing software, but he knew he had a problem.
Student films look rubbish.
The shaky cam, the poor acting, the ugly cuts. He couldn't stand to be in the same bucket any longer. He pushed himself to new limits to escape the sore red brand of the student filmmaker. After seven years of toil, he needed one final push to reach the level he'd dreamed of attaining. Well, fate works in queer ways. Here's what happened.
It was the last day of the Christmas term at Winstanley College, and a half-day at that. Most students were ready to up and leave by 12pm, but not Owen. Instead, Owen had taken to staying behind another couple of hours to edit projects, and saw the half-day as an opportunity to get even more done with the extra few hours of no timetable. It was only as he left at 6pm to hear the bleating of the Media building alarm that he realised he wasn't leaving anytime soon.
He had no food. No water. He would probably need a wee soon. The doors had locked themselves. Everyone had bloody left, and it was his work's Christmas party in two hours! This was even worse than that time with the camel outfit. Owen got to work, first explaining to his mum that he could see her on the car park but wouldn't be in the car any time soon, then dialling his college network to see who might be able to get in touch with a teacher. Eventually, word found its way to the Vice Principal, who dashed to the rescue. One alarm technician dragged from his night off later and Owen was speeding home to suit up and get down, unbeknownst to the knowledge that the Vice Principal would soon push bigger wheels in motion.
A few months later, Mel (they were on first name terms after the incident) and Owen were chatting at an awards night. Mel mentioned that an alum of the college was guest-speaking and worked in the media, and would put Owen in touch.
At this point I'm going to put the jokes on a hiatus. Richard saw the work I was doing and gave me a huge opportunity - I knew how to make a film, but I wasn't out of the student film territory yet and had a long way to go if I wanted to do this full time. I have a lot of gratitude toward him for offering the opportunity to produce for him a music video. I bought my first camera and computer and spent the Summer meeting his brief. With no business knowledge or strategic planning, I felt the best thing would be to create a logo to brand all my future projects with, and so Seabrook Media was born. It seemed appropriate - I was going to Leeds to study Film, and my part-time job could be building my experience under Seabrook Media.
It wasn't until I discovered Spark, the University student start-up support team, when things really started to happen. I was taught through my own research and my mentors how to run a business effectively and create a valuable product. I began to learn how agencies worked, and applied their knowledge to my own brand, with the competitive edge of being more flexible, more hungry, and having fewer overheads. After using the University kit to get by for a year or so, I was eventually able to invest in all-new kit, from the 4K video camera to the high-speed editing rig. For years I'd pumped every ounce of practice out of the best kit I could get my hands on, and now I was ready to start competing.
I've now worked with national names and small brands to produce photography and videographic content. My films have been exhibited to hundreds and streamed live to thousands. I've shot in Moscow, South Korea, and New York, among other exciting locations, and I've started to create content packages for smaller brands looking to build their presence without paying huge costs. I love the work I do and it's allowed me to collaborate with some great clients on some great projects. In early 2018 I underwent a rebrand to shake off the amateur aesthetic I'd adopted since the beginning and get things looking ready for the opportunities to come, and that's what I do everyday.
So, in a way, the death of Club Penguin has taken more from the kids of today than we realise.