As a young and not particularly studious skater in Broken Hill, Stephen Deeble – now owner of Visualizm – taught himself the basics of filming and editing so he could make videos with his friends.
To the surprise of most of the adults around him, the years spent trespassing on a skateboard were the first step in a successful career in video production and motion content.
Being one of few people in Broken Hill who could use a Mac landed Stephen his first job. At the age of 16, he was hired by the local news network to produce the nightly bulletin alongside the town’s journalist.
“It was great at the time,” says Stephen, who is more often known as Deebs. “You wear a lot of hats – I was the camera operator, the editor, the producer, the director. I was even the weather voiceover, too, every night.”
Although some would consider it a baptism of fire, Deebs quickly adapted to the wide-ranging role. It wasn’t long before he was looking for something to extend him further.
In a move that was to become an accidental career-building pattern, he soon began searching for a more creative outlet. Just before his 18th birthday he landed a job with the broadcaster’s commercial arm, and was headed to Port Augusta and Whyalla. There, he began scripting, producing, filming and editing TVCs.
The next logical step was a shift to Adelaide and a job in digital media at Imagination.
“You go from working on a Home Timber and Hardware ad in Whyalla, to working on Stratco or some of these national brands that sort of open your eyes up to, you know, the big world of commercial production in the Big Smoke of Adelaide,” says Deebs.
In every new role, Deebs found new ways to feed his desire to learn more and push the limits of his creativity, but he was also continually attracted by the prospect of new creative horizons.
In 2010, he was part of the first wave of in-house agency video creatives, putting his multifaceted skill set to full use.
After creating more retail ads than most people would care to remember, Deebs did a brief stint at production house Merlin, before finally branching out on his own and launching Visualizm in 2018.
In his own business, he has found the variety and flexibility to help him stay put for the long haul. The firm kicked off with motion graphic design work for American TV series Reef Break, and the four years since has seen Deebs move fluidly across video roles and formats, including film, TVC and content production.
Visualizm has taken him a long way from his origins in Broken Hill, but one of his most personally significant pieces of work is an ad that brought him back home.
“I think that the spot that we did for the RFDS [Royal Flying Doctor Service] last year is a highlight,” says Deebs. “To people like me that come from the country and know what the RFDS do across the whole of Australia, it is bloody unreal to be able to work on that campaign.
“And we got to use a lot of local talent here in terms of crew, which was good fun.”
A mainstay of Deebs’ creative journey since he arrived in Adelaide has been the AADC.
Having attended almost every awards night since his first in 2008, he has come to appreciate the camaraderie the Club fosters.
Supporting that sense of community it one of the key reasons Visualizm is an AADC sponsor.
“It's pretty easy to go, ‘I don't want to deal with them, or that's our competitor or opposition’, but I think that's probably the worst mindset you could possibly have, especially in advertising in such a small town. “So, I think having the AADC there to help everyone communicate, and mingle and support each other is a good thing.”