Edward Hallam is a Sheffield-born, Shetland-raised filmmaker and social media manager who has worked with some of the UK’s most recognisable Internet stars. The 19-year old spoke with us as he heads back to Glasgow after a 3-month stint working with Morgz, the YouTube star with over 10m subscribers and countless viral videos.
In a forever-evolving industry, opportunities to work with YouTubers and social media celebrities can be rare but it is something that has really changed in recent years as we move away from these stars being a one-person band. There are entire teams around most of the biggest creators – from editors and writers to publicists and assistants. However, alongside the growing number of opportunities to take these online brands to the next level, the number of aspiring videographers and editors has also grown. Many inspired by the likes of Konstantin, who has grown his own audience through Behind The Scenes videos when he has worked on projects for KSI & the Sidemen.
Despite competition from the hundreds of others, teenager Edward has managed to carve out a number of opportunities despite a starting position of the South Mainland, in Shetland – miles north of the United Kingdom and slapped bang in the middle of the North Sea.
Getting Into Filmmaking & Early Opportunities
Edward’s trajectory in the industry is by his own admission is “further along than [he] thought it would be”. But where did it all start?
He says it really started “with my Grandad, he was my early influence on all things tech. He always had a camera in-hand when I was growing up and I was always interested in what he was doing. My ‘brand’ Edward Joe comes from my middle name as well as my dedication to my Grandad’s first name.” From here, he would be 13 before he “really started to explore online content and filmmaking.” It was during this time that his first YouTube videos would be created – all around skateboarding, BMXing and generally just having fun with his friends.
This deep fascination really kicked off in 2014. Edward was part of a Tate Artists Room project focused around Sir Don McCullin – famous for his war projects, with the likes of the Vietnam War and the Northern Ireland conflict being highly regarded and known for being politically disturbing. It was during this program where Edward would befriend Liz Musser, a local filmmaker here in Shetland.
“She really took me under her wing and gave me so many opportunities and support as I started to explore the craft of storytelling. It was because of Liz that I was introduced to the team that ran Promote Shetland at the time.”
Promote Shetland gave him his first taste of working for an actual organisation. This would include many of their livestreams and it was also here that would get him an introduction to Gavin Bell.
Along with Promote Shetland, he would also garner valuable experience with local filmmaker, photographer and lecturer Keiba Clubb, Selkie Wedding Films’ Stephen Mercer, the Shetland Times, Shetland Arts, Gavin Bell and many more people and organisations who gave him a chance.
This was the building blocks for his move to Glasgow, which would come after leaving school at 16 and completing an NC in Film at Mareel.
Moving to Glasgow & Working With Gavin Bell
Going back just under two years, Edward Hallam had made the move to the Mainland – to arguably Scotland’s creative capital, Glasgow. It would be here that he would get on his journey into film and television. However, he looks back and he says there is no way he would have anticipated being where he is now.
His goals back then were all around the “long ladder to through college and university” in order to work as a camera operator or director of photography for a production company or something similar. He thinks it was ingrained in him from early that for success in the industry it would have to come from the traditional route. It would quickly be realised, and understood, that in this digital and social age the opportunities can be endless and the route into the industry could really come from anywhere.
It would coincide with his start at the Glasgow Clyde college that he would get an opportunity with Gavin Bell – an Edinburgh-living Shetlander who has seen great success online. The Facebook ads expert has cracked the code of marketing funnels and has made a serious name for himself in the industry. He's an official Facebook partner, delivers talks at huge events, works directly with large companies and now has his very own funnel academy, an evolved, refined space for people to learn all about funnels and Facebook ads.
Gavin began growing his personal brand with lifestyle and entrepreneurial vlogs that managed to capture the attention of people outside of his industry circle. The vlogs would be centred around his life in business, his travels to events or adventures through the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
Edward met Gavin when they were both working together on an Up Helly Aa project in 2018. Gavin had been set the task to go and film some videos in the public for social media and Edward had taken up the role of editing them. They wouldn’t get much chance to chat until Gavin returned the following month for another project and from here, they kept in touch and Edward would do the odd job for Gavin before getting offered a part-time internship with him.
Edward’s passion for social media and creating video was in full-force by this point and what was a 6-month “learning experience” transformed into an obsession, leading onto Edward becoming the Head of Content for Gavin, his business and his personal brand. Edward doesn’t think he would be close to where he is today if it wasn’t for his time under Mr Bell’s wing.
“I owe so much of what I have done to the ten months working with him. I’m so happy he’s still one of my closest friends.”
“When I first moved to Glasgow I was like a sponge. I emailed as many people as I could, went to loads of meetings, went to every networking event, did loads of free shoots, and just generally worked my ass off for the entire time I was there. I hardly ever went to parties, I spent most of my time out working or in my room editing.”
Much of that mentality, he says, is because of Gavin and what he learned from him. His time with Gavin is very fondly remembered, including filming Gavin’s trip to London to give a keynote speech at VidCon.
The Magic Of Social Media
After ten months with Gavin and completing his HNC in Television Production, Edward returned back to Shetland. He decided to officially go freelance and hoped to pursue a career working with businesses and organisations in Shetland, while also looking at getting a move back to Glasgow. It was a decision officially made at the start of June but over a month later and he found himself in a rut having not worked one single job.
Things changed pretty quickly though, by chance… or by magic.
Edward stumbled upon an Instagram post from the UK’s most recognisable social media trickster and magician, Julius Dein. With over 6 million Instagram followers, 16 million likes on Facebook and almost 1 million subscribers on both YouTube & TikTok, the Londoner was needing another editor and videographer.
“I sent off an email application and began the waiting game. I was beginning to lose hope then I got a response from his manager saying that Julius wanted to give me a call. The following morning out of the blue my phone rang, and it was Julius waving to me on FaceTime.”
With his best efforts to keep his cool, after an hour of chatting Julius had invited him to a weekend in London to hang out, film and see how it played out. Within 5 or so minutes of meeting Julius, his friends and his family, things just clicked.
“London was bouncing because of PRIDE weekend. We headed out into the streets and got into it. I had an absolute blast. Two days after that weekend I was back in the studio working almost 18-hour days for a project I’d been asked to be lead editor on. After a couple of weeks back in Shetland to complete the editing I was asked if I wanted to go out to Magaluf with him and his ex-full-time video guy, Lee.”
The teenage filmmaker loved the work in Magaluf, dubbing it the clear highlight of the Summer. From the 5-star hotel, to filming tricks in the busy, bustling streets at night and hanging out with thoroughly decent people in between, it couldn't have got much better.
Edward doesn’t work in that capacity with Julius anymore, but they have become closer and Edward now manages his socials.
“In the last 4-5 months as we became closer friends Julius asked if I could become his Social Manager. Most of the work I do now isn’t massively time-consuming, it’s more about supporting him and his manager - managing his Tik Tok and Facebook. It’s pretty crazy to think a year ago I was purely creatively-focused now yet I am managing socials and some of the projects for Julius.”
One major success from his time managing Julius' Tik Tok is the fact he has grown the following from a mere 700 up to 700k+ in less than three months, with one video hitting 35m views and many more regularly getting over 1m views.
The Return To Sheffield & Working With Morgz
Morgz is one of the UK’s biggest online creators – regularly being cited by other stars including WillNE, Jaackmate and even the biggest name on the platform PewDiePie. He has over 11,000,000 subscribers on YouTube and currently averages 60m views every month – this once peaking at 160,000,000 – the same month he would welcome over 1m subscribers across the 30 days.
There is no question that Morgz is one of YouTube’s success story and despite still only being in his teens his knowledge of the YouTube game is fruitful. He’s built characters such as Bald Martin and Morgz Mum, the latter having her own YouTube channel with over 3m subscribers and over 6 million views per month.
Edward has just finished working with Morgz as he looks to work on new projects in Glasgow, but the time was well-spent as lived with the family for 3 months in Sheffield and he even spent a fortnight with the family in LA (hence the photo with the supercar...).
“Working with Morgan taught me so much about virality online. I learned what works and what doesn’t work with it comes to content, titles and thumbnails. I learned so much about the work that goes into videos. Most people who don’t know would think they were easy to make but his work ethic and passion is paramount.”
When talking about the interest Morgan’s content gets from other creators, Edward says they would often watch the videos together and Morgan would laugh at the majority of it – understanding they don’t actually have any form of dislike for the teenage creator, and that they are doing it only because they know it will bring in decent views.
Morgz Mum is currently in an ongoing 'battle' with WillNE for more subscribers, something you can only imagine has been orchestrated by her son Morgan due to him knowing his way around the YouTube game.
Back To Glasgow & Plans Going Forward
With his work coming to an end with YouTuber Morgz, Edward looks ahead not knowing fully where he is headed. Ultimately, he just wants to progress and evolve.
“I have some exciting things in the works and goals I want to achieve.”
“This year I plan to settle in Glasgow with my good friends and get my first proper place to live other than my parents or out of my suitcase. I plan on pursuing more adventure travel video and photo work this year, documenting more things that have a real impact on the world.”
He’s also continued to move away from solely being a creative. This will always be his bread and butter, his passion, but with his experience working closely with Morgz, his manager and the team behind Julius Dein, he feels ready to work behind the scenes for the creators and not just the camera – connecting influencers with brands and vice versa. For example, he’s currently working on content strategy’s and brand campaigns for UK influencers and agencies at the moment.
Away from the hard graft and grind Edward continues to find new ways to better himself, including the challenge of reading a new book every month and meditation.
“I’ve been playing around with meditation and self-development since I was about 16. I remember reading Tony Robbins: Awake The Giant Within in the Summer after my exams and it truly blew my mind. Once you understand that you are responsible for about 99% of what happens in your life, you start to look at things in a whole new way.”
Is Shetland A Hindrance?
With the digital and social media age being at the forefront of our every day lives, is it really that difficult to make a living in the online world while being based 212 miles from Aberdeen and another 100 miles from Glasgow?
Edward thinks if you’re working with these social media stars you really need to be based close to them on the mainland – this obviously goes without saying if you’re the one shooting viral clips and videos with them but even away from that Edward thinks being on the mainland gives you a real understanding of what the industry is like.
“First off, if you want a substantial career in digital media you really need to be adopting the sponge mentality. Ask the people you look up to, whether that is far away or locally for advice, experience or anything they are willing to offer you. The real important thing, no matter where you are is just creating things and getting yourself out there. No matter if you want to work with YouTubers, create Hollywood movies or be the next Lewis Capaldi, just do something.”
This is a mentality that has been with Edward for the few years he has been carving out a career with social media’s biggest stars. When we discussed making a career from Shetland in social media, his advice was to experience it from south. However, he doesn’t completely dismiss it.
“Some people see growing up in Shetland as a hindrance. I was absolutely dying to get off when I was 16. However, a couple years later and I have a new appreciation for what Shetland has to offer. It will always be my home, it’s the place I grew up and love, but I don’t think I could call it a forever home now due to who I am working with and what I am doing. There are some fabulous creatives in Shetland, many of whom I have a deep appreciation for – whether that be through experience, help or advice. They have all impacted me in some way or another and helped set me on my way!”