Media Academy member Tamra talks to SeaView creator Corey Campbell about the inspiration behind the captivating new digital TV series.
This autumn, we’re delighted to be premiering a very special project for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.
SeaView, a six-part digital series, has been created by our very own Co-Artistic Director for 2021, Corey Campbell, and follows a family whose world is thrown into chaos by one seismic event.
Whilst filming was taking place earlier this year, our Media Academy were on set soaking up the action and getting involved with interviewing the cast and crew.
Tamra had the chance to speak to creator and executive producer Corey Campbell about the inspiration behind SeaView.
When creating SeaView, Corey Campbell was particularly interested in reflecting on his own questions surrounding Black working-class families. It’s not new-found to see Black, working-class families in what Corey described as “gang related and violent” storylines. The media is fixated on presenting Black families in these violent natures.
The effects of this on the Black community are devastating, as it inevitably eliminates the need for sensitivity when it comes to images and representations of Black people’s suffering. The trauma and pain of the Black community are all too often commodified and sold as entertainment, leading to a lack of awareness about the reality of the cruelty.
The pandemic saw a lot more of us tuning into some of our favourite streaming services in the efforts to pass time. Whether it was a film we have been meaning to watch or a series that was recommended by a work colleague, we can all agree that onscreen narratives are useful for their ability to create windows into unreachable worlds. They can work to unite and transcend messages that can both influence and inspire.
However, what cannot go ignored are the ways in which this discourse can misrepresent people and their identities. Much of the content from streaming services which aimed to bring Black stories to the forefront has failed to detach itself from the one-dimensional images that dominate popular culture. These are valuable but unoriginal stories that attempt to speak for a far more multifaceted community.
We seem to struggle to stray from narratives that centre on knife crime and Black trauma as the only way to depict the experiences of being Black in the UK. However, SeaView aims to do exactly that. The powerful new drama tells the story of a family and their struggle to free themselves from the reality that is their life.
In an interview with series creator Corey Campbell, he discussed how the inspiration for SeaView was derived from his own “lived experiences and family life”. By utilizing class division, Corey creates a window of communication between two worlds that often remain in the dark about how their counterpart lives.
In modern British television, there is all too often a lack of intention when creating meaningful characters, leading to stereotypical representations. Although not all untrue, it’s also important to recognise the need for individuality when it comes to identity and race.
The events in SeaView have allowed Corey to reflect on his own story. He stated, “I had a lot of questions about my own life. If I could see into the future what would I have done differently?”
Corey continued to call SeaView his “art and therapy”. The theme of dreaming and change runs through the series and in some ways exposes what happens when we cease to value each other.
When the only lens we see a person is through the one the media constantly bombards us with, we forget that outside of these complex characters and narratives, we are all human. Even those in marginalised groups have dreams, aspirations and feelings. The media very often disregard this fact as a method to show only one side of the canvas and dehumanise and generalise collective group of people.
It is clear that Corey values teamwork as he reminds us of the importance of community, both in and outside of the series. He wanted to make this a project that brought together different perspectives and abilities. From the writer’s team down to the crew, he ensured he included a diverse range of people and their myriad experiences. By calling out to local West Midlands writers, he gave many the opportunity to further help personalise the narrative. It solidified the idea that this is a series created by the West Midlands, for the West Midlands.
As a Black person entering into white spaces, Corey was faced with the question of how one is able to navigate through these spaces. It was here that he openly admitted that “it has been tough” but also that he does not give it power to hinder his growth and ambition.
In some ways he explains how being Black in a predominantly white industry has both hindered and elevated him due to what he explains as “white consciousness and white privilege”. Corey has not been afraid to cause controversy and to initiate difficult conversations.
To Corey, being an artist is also about the responsibility you have to your community and your “lived experience”. If your community is one that is unheard, unserved and oppressed, then as an individual you hold power and have a duty to be a voice for your community, regardless of race.
Corey also acknowledged that being a creative in a space where few like you are recognised, means pitching an idea with an awareness that it might not be fully appreciated. In this same vein, there is also a lack of scope for mistakes.
Identity intertwines into everything we consume, and plays a vital role in what we are able to relate to. We get hooked on a series not only because it entertains us, but also because there’s a level of familiarity about it. In some ways we see ourselves in the stories we engage with.
From turning off the news because the images strike a chord in our own lived experiences, to finishing a three-season series because of the ways it reminds you of a wild time in our lives; we are connected to what we visually digest.
There is a cry for more projects like SeaView – and more importantly, people like Corey telling these stories. It’s time we switch up the storyline, bring the unheard to the forefronts, and tell individual stories.