5 minutes with… Billy Abbott, Subject Leader for Media Production at Chelsea

We sat down with Billy Abbott, Subject Leader for Media Production at Morley’s Chelsea Centre for the Creative Industries. Billy teaches film, media production and our brand new Esports course.

I’ve been at Morley since September 2020- I’ve just moved to London. I worked for the BFI for three years, I’m a freelance filmmaker and I manage a rock band. So lots of different, wonderful, creative ventures wrapped into one one thing.

When I’m not teaching, I work as a director of photography or a cinematographer- I’m essentially in charge of the camera department on films. So I do a lot of music videos, short films, documentaries, a few bits of commercial work. I’m also the music manager for an alternative rock band.

London, for me, has always been a centre of vibrancy in the UK. The Chelsea centre is an incredible opportunity to create a new centre of the creative industries in the heart of London. There’s so much diversity here; diversity of opinions, demographics. Amazing things happen every day on the streets, in theatres and cinemas, in live music venues. It’s really exciting to be here. 

I believe there’s a career in creativity for everyone, no matter your age or background. I think it’s essential that the UK remains this incredible, vibrant, creative place. Whether you’re in your fifties and you want to retrain, 16 and looking for your start in life as a fashion designer, or a 30 year old photographer who wants to retrain as a filmmaker, there is a course here for you. We’re uniting all of these different aspects to help people get jobs in the future.

Being a filmmaker who teachers is just as fantastic as being a teacher who makes films. My practice as a filmmaker is central to everything I do with the students.On the weekends, I might be shooting a music video, doing some photography work, at a gig in Moscow with my band who I manage. All of that feeds back into giving people a grounding in the creative industries here at Morley.

Sometimes just turning over stones and seeing what’s under them is by far the best path into the industry. I had no idea I’d be a music manager four years ago, but it just happened through making contacts, figuring out what I wanted to do in my life, and then seeing what happens with it. So turn over those stones, see what happens. You will go through a period of evolution and you’ll find things that you’re passionate about as time goes on.

I like a challenge; I really like being the person that comes onto set and solves problems. I suppose what inspires me is people stretching beyond their means to create something meaningful. That’s always inspired me since a young age. And it’s nice to be in a position where I can give back in that manner as well at Morley.

One of my greatest achievements is filming a zero budget documentary that was picked up by the music venue trust and shown in Parliament. It was used to try and save grassroots music venues nationally. It was really gratifying for that to be picked up by the music venue trust- it thankfully led to something that’s genuinely meaningful. So I suppose that is my most proud piece of work, because it actually went on to make a difference somewhere.

I’m so excited to launch our new curriculum at Chelsea. It’s dripping with enthusiastic creatives, and full of content that you wouldn’t have seen 5-10 years ago. We’ve got brand new eSports programmes, VFX, filmmaking, music, video courses. It’s just so contemporary, and it’s so different to what’s going on at the moment. My mission is to make the media department here  the strongest in the country, from resources to teaching to industry placements- that’s the dream.