SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, many business owners struggled to make ends meet, especially restaurants and bars.
But two freelancers are finding the positive and making a documentary on those people that took the risk and started their own businesses during the pandemic.
John Seabag and Robert Kelley are a team. Seabag, a Missouri State student while Kelly is an Evangel grad.
While schools and businesses were closing down, the two found an opportunity.
Seabag bought a camera and had planned to videotape his spring break trip to California, but the trip was called off and he was stuck at home.
“And so, I got super bored and I needed to do something you know,” Seabag said. “I just taught myself how to edit video. The whole videography aspect of it. And so I’m now a freelance videographer and I have my own business”
Seabag used his video camera to tape events, birthdays and weddings. He started his own video production business.
“And we were talking, like one of the unseen losses with the pandemic it’s like people’s hope to take a chance so like any dreams for businesses they had slated for 2020,” Kelley said. “It’s like 2020 was supposed to be everybody’s year, you know.”
While many businesses had to close their doors, others decided to open new doors and start their own business, like Seabag. Kelley had a lot of experience in videography and the two decided to do a documentary on people taking that chance to start a business at the height of COVID-19.
Kristen Douglas and Dylan Collins are co-owners of the split social kitchen. They used to be a couple but split — hence the restaurant name — but they co-parent their 6-year-old son. They have been planning to open a restaurant. They opened in the kitchen in July.
“But it was definitely uncharted waters for us,” Collins said. “We kind of knew what we wanted throughout the entire process so just had I hope where we could do inside seating and get people to try out food in our store for the first time.”
Stories of COVID success is turning out to be a successful documentary. Seabag and Kelley have at least seven businesses in Springfield they plan to feature, with likely more to come.
“I have a degree that I’m not even going to use so I might just pursue this career and film and make video as a passion and career and Rob just really helped me out and he’s been doing it a lot longer so,” Seabag said.
“So, we basically wanted to go and find people who did take that chance and had that courage and encourage other people to not give up hope that tomorrow will be better,” Kelley said.