YouTube success helped Stuart to realise his film-making dream

YouTube personality Stuart Ashen at his home in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

YouTube personality Stuart Ashen at his home in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

He might be a bit older than most online video bloggers, but that hasn't stopped Stuart Ashen from building up a huge fanbase.

The 37-year-old, from Heartsease, has 645,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel Ashens, and his videos of comedy product reviews have been seen 138 million times.

It's a far cry from when Mr Ashen first started making internet videos.

He said: 'Before YouTube existed people used to have to download wmv files from a website and as everyone had dial up internet nobody did download them as it used to take so long.'

The former Heartsease High pupil spent stints working at PC World, and in computers for Norfolk Libraries and Museums Service and Norwich Union before his followers on YouTube grew to a level where he can now make a living from his videos.

He said: 'It really took off a couple of years ago. Before that there was no monetisation.

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'I wouldn't like to say there's more money in it than ever, but it reached a good peak a year ago.

'There's also sponsorship and advertising opportunities. I tend to pick my battles on this as you have to be careful not to alienate the audience and it has to be a decent project.'

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For example, Mr Ashen recently worked with soft drink brand Dr Pepper on 'Who Stole Stuart's Sofa?', a pick-a-path comedy adventure, featuring many other popular YouTubers.

While many video bloggers have large fashion and beauty followings, the Ashens and Extraashens channels have a mostly male audience across a good spread of ages.

Last year Mr Ashen co-wrote and starred in a comedy adventure film called 'Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild', which follows a search through a fictional version of North Norfolk for an obscure old video game system.

It also features established actors Warwick Davis and Robert Llewellyn and was partially crowd-funded, meaning a substantial percentage of the budget (£48,400 of £118,000) came from an audience keen to see the film made.

It was released onto YouTube in August where it has been watched more than half a million times and led to it being picked up for release on Blu-ray and DVD by home video company Anchor Bay.

Mr Ashen was also involved in helping to bring back the popular children's adventure show Knightmare for a fresh episode for YouTube Geek Week last year.

Do you have a story about an unusual way to make a living? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772474.

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