Carrie LeZotte has A TON of experience as a filmmaker and business owner. I had the pleasure of meeting her during the pandemic when she was helping so many of us appear camera ready—and feel confident—while working from home.
Yes, I love my T-Shirts and sweatpants, but her presentation motivated me to step up my game!
This is the episode for you if you're interested in learning what looks good on camera, and she gives some great advice like...
and, here's a bonus tip from later in the episode that I LOVE:
Ready to get camera ready with Carrie LeZotte? Check out her contact info below:
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Hello and welcome back to another episode of Imperfect Marketing. Today our guest is Carrie LeZotte. She is an amazing woman who I, I think I met you during the pandemic, right? So when, I think I'd seen you present before that.
But she is an expert in getting people camera ready. She is a filmmaker. She does a ton of other things.
Why don't I give you a minute or two to introduce yourself?
Thanks, Kendra. Thanks for having me!
So recently I just took a position for Bloomfield Township, where I am the director of Cable and Community Relations. Which I'm so happy to have been selected for this role because this is kind of what I've been doing my whole career is doing community based video production work. And now I get to do it all the time.
And I, you know, as part of my job, I get paid to do the development part of it. So I'm just really happy to be here and I'm learning so much every day. And so part of that role is also doing the community relations, being the main PR point person. And so that's something I haven't really had a chance to do before, but I'm super excited about.
So even today, this morning I was over at the senior center and it was, the police and fire do a monthly talk with the seniors or whomever decides to show up there.
And just what I was able to learn today was so interesting and engaging. So yeah, it's been a really good job. And then other than that, you know, I think that I know you because of the Camera Ready work and the training that I've done, and that's just been an interest of mine for years because I'm always trying to make people look the very best that they can whenever they sit in front of the lens.
And so I think that when people look good, they feel good, then the interview is really the best it can be. And so people you know, especially because of the pandemic, people are in front of cameras more than ever. And so making them as comfortable as possible has always been an interest of mine.
Yeah. So I remember sitting through a presentation that you did on camera readiness and in the pandemic it was about, you know, still dressing up and looking good on camera.
And I had been like, "Well, we're working from home, so t-shirt and sweatpants it is."
And that's how I was doing all of my Zoom meetings and I was like, "Huh, I'm really not coming off as professional as I usually am."
And so I like revamped everything, still wore sweatpants, socks and slippers but definitely had what was in view of the camera stepped up, like my hair done and some makeup on.
Really, because I think by the end I think we had all fallen off a little bit. And now things are, things are definitely coming back and we're seeing people be just more, I'll say presentable in general. But it was a, it's been a long time. The pandemic is a long time.
It has, yeah. And I actually did it reverse. I actually started the pandemic, like totally bumming it. Cause I was like, "Yes, I have no place to go!"
And then I ramped it back up, so.
Well, you always look good. I can't imagine even your, even your worst days, I'm sure you look great.
So you have a ton of experience as a filmmaker. I know you've done some great documentaries. You know, again, you've helped me look camera ready of course.
But what drives you to create the documentaries that you do?
You know, I think that what I've there's always stories that need to be told and uncovering what those things are. And the one big one that I did was Lean Mean and Green.
And for me, it was that people weren't getting the story about Detroit, right? They were really looking at the decay and they weren't looking at the people that had stayed and were really trying to make it a better place.
So you know, these days Detroit looks pretty good. It looks a lot better than it did, you know, 15, 20 years ago. And this is a documentary I produced in 2011, but it just got a recent screening with the UN in Poland in, I think it's Making Cities Better. I'm trying to think the name of the festival, but it'll be showing in Detroit at the end of October.
And it's, and it really highlights the people that have been doing this kind of reinvention of urban cities for three decades. They started. And so now we're finally seeing the results of that. So in telling the truth, I guess is what makes me interested in telling those documentary stories.
And right now working for Bloomfield Township they're, what I didn't know before starting here is that fire departments are really facing a challenge and trying to hire new firefighters. It's just not a job that people are gravitating to, like they used to.
And it's not just here in Bloomfield Township. It's something that's being seen across the country. And it will soon be seen in police departments as well, because I think that, you know, big people look at, you know, that there's a— police and fire are expected to do so much now, and so what are we gonna do to solve that problem?
So those kind of questions, those big questions, like I wanna learn more and find out answers to them. And that's what really drives me to tell stories. And the more personal you can make it, the closer it is to your community, I think people really start to pay attention.
Yeah, I really like that. I love learning what motivates people to do what they do. So thank you for sharing that!
Now, a few years ago, I think—was it before the pandemic or during the pandemic—you became a stylist for Etcetera, which is a brand of clothing to help people become camera ready. Now you've totally helped me. I love what you pick.
I think the first time we did a show or something over was over Zoom or StreamYard or something along those lines where you were showing me all the different clothing options that I had because I was, everything I had was black and white and that's it. And in my office, I'm totally and completely overexposed, so I can't, I definitely can't wear white because it just like washes everything out.
But why did you start, why did you choose Etcetera? Why did you start helping people with their clothes and their outfits and this whole camera ready piece?
Well, sure. So early on, like I'll say, you know, back when I was just starting my film career, I ended up working at Hudson's. And that's the first time I was, you know, because I went through college in sweatpants and I was never very focused on what I was wearing going through school. I was focused on, you know, making movies and going to school.
But then I started working at Hudson's where, you know, you had to get dressed every day to go to work. And that's really where I started to understand how to coordinate outfits and how clothes make you feel.
And when you're dressed and you feel good about what you're wearing, then you project that. And especially if you're going to a job interview or if you're these days doing interviews on Zoom, you really need to project that confidence.
And the other thing that people may not realize, which as I've been getting my masters in communications, and we talk a lot about nonverbal communications, 90% of communication is, you know, is nonverbal. And people read that and people can see you know, they can tell if you're lying or how comfortable you are and your environment around you, that all reads as something that people interpret and make judgments on you.
So as far as getting into this, you know, it was like, I guess I started to really enjoy clothes and getting dressed when I worked for Hudson's. And I did that kind of as I was trying to get into the film business.
And then as a director it was one of the things that, you know, a makeup artist or a hair person or a clothing person—if you have those people on set, they pay attention.
But, you know, as crews got smaller and smaller, it would just be me and a camera operator and a audio tech and really nobody was paying attention to what people were wearing. And it, and it really makes a big difference if someone was wearing black or white and shows up to interview.
One of my main tips is not to wear black or white. White, because of the exposure, white is really difficult to work with and black is the color that you wear to disappear. We all like to wear it because, you know, it hides imperfections and if you don't wanna be seen, this is the color that you can put on. This is why people wear it when they're on stage behind set. You know, in theatrical productions everyone wears black behind the scenes. It's what you wear when you're showing respect at a funeral or something because you don't want people to be looking at you.
But if when you are on camera, if that's purposeful, you wanna make sure that people can see you. And so I tell people that you should wear the colors that you really like.
And so I know that you, Kendra really, I think that you demonstrate that really well in the photos that you've taken and that represent you on LinkedIn or on your social media. Like you were really—those blues, they really good on you and I think that you look happy wearing them. So good job!
Thank you! My husband says I need new photos because I wear that blue sweater all the time. I was like, But I like it. You are correct. I do. I feel better in it!
But getting to your question and why I picked Etcetera, I think because there were some other lines I was seeing myself too much in and Etcetera makes clothing that is really difficult to find these days cuz a lot of stuff is so disposable that you find in stores and Etcetera is not that.
It's manufactured in Vietnam, a lot of it, which have some of the best factories in the world to do clothing these days. And the detail that they put into their items is really noticeable, especially when you're in a closeup on camera.
So like if you're wearing a sweater, they'll do details at the edging of it. They'll be different rushing on blouse and things that are, that make the item really special and it kind of, it just stands out as something distinct and different.
So that's what I like about it. The quality is just a as you know, it's really exceptional and that's, that's what I like about it.
Okay. Very cool!
I should stop doing it. I should stop, but I can't cuz I'm kind of like, I love clothes and I love getting dressed
That's great! No, I think it's, but I think it's good to be able to have that resource to share with people when they're coming to you to talk about how to be camera ready.
You know, I mean, it gives them options and you can talk about the details and all the different pieces of it and how to stand out against their background, et cetera.
Yes. And I should say that "camera ready" is a term of art in film production. Like camera ready means that you show up ready to step in front of the camera.
So that means that maybe there isn't an art—like a makeup artist on set or someone to do your wardrobe. So you need to be pretty much ready to go. And that's really how I feel like, you know, in life we kind of just need to be ready to go as far as putting forward our professional self and how people interpret what we look like.
You know, all of assumptions are made in like the first five seconds of meeting someone. And so we wanna make sure that we, you know, look as good as we can.
So selling the clothes was a newer venture for you. I think it compliments immense your video production business cuz you were doing promotional videos and things like that too, not just documentaries.
How did you start marketing and growing your customer base for Etcetera, since it was complimentary and all about expansion?
Right. Well I think the one thing that I really tried was making videos of, you know, selecting just as you were saying, selecting the camera ready pieces because the whole line is not what I would consider camera ready because they still have like a lot of your basic white blouses, and a lot of your black pieces that you're gonna wear all the time. But then there would be a few distinct pieces that would really stand out as like, this is what would really look good on camera.
One of the things that I got for myself not too long ago was a head to toe, like a royal blue outfit. And I love head to toe, especially if you're—head to toe color—if you're going to be presenting on stage, that is totally the way to go and you're gonna stand up in the crowd and something like that.
You see a lot of you know, women who are in office, they dress in head to toe color all the time and, they are really, they're always thinking about what are they gonna look like in a photograph.
Because they really, they should be standing out at the event, you know, they're the ones that all eyes are on them when they're running for office. And I think there's some there's some Michigan politicians and people in government that do it really well.
Yeah, I think I remember in a presentation that you were giving, you showed some different politicians throughout their—and they're no longer in office—but they throughout their tenure in office, I should say that in the beginning they were wearing a lot of blacks and grays and blending in and by the end it's blues and reds.
And I mean, you could tell who was, you know, the politician and who was the person grabbing attention, which was very neat.
Jennifer Granholm was really good at it. So, and well, and she's now in a national office, right?
Yeah, I think so. So what are some barriers that you encountered when you started either your film business or your or your Etcetera business? Like where, where did you run into to problems?
I think, you know, still my challenge with, I guess doing Etcetera is being, you know, picking up the phone and getting people in the door. You know, that's, I think still as far as you know, marketing your business or getting customers, that's still probably the most successful thing to do is to pick up the phone and call people. But I still struggle with that. And, you know, following up and, and that kind of thing.
And I think that your, your other question about marketing, I, you know, YouTube. Making YouTube videos, like that is my, YouTube is just an amazing marketing tool. And so I think making videos, putting 'em on YouTube, that is definitely the way to go.
And it took me a long time to like get with, get on team YouTube as opposed to Vimeo or some of the other options that are available. Because YouTube is connected to Google and that took me a while to understand that the search engine is so powerful and that's really, even if you don't want to do that with those giant corporations, if you're trying to get noticed in your business, that's really where you should be.
So, you know, when you and I connect and you, you were talking about your follow up and, and I actually think your follow up's pretty good because I need people to stalk me when things are going on. So I've always been impressed with it.
But you and I usually connect via email and LinkedIn which are very highly effective channels. I know you said, you know, calling people, not necessarily it, but that's okay cuz I never have time to pick up my phone.
You know, if you had to choose, would you say that YouTube's your favorite marketing channel?
Oh, for sure. Yeah. YouTube is my favorite. Although, you know, I was looking at the links that I supplied to you as far as where to get in touch and it's not something, I guess that I've developed for myself as much as I've, I use it as a platform to link videos that I've produced.
But I think YouTube is just, it really is the best possible thing. I mean, email marketing is also as, you know, I mean that's what you're talking about all the time. I think that that's what people open if you can get their email.
But in order to find people, I think YouTube and video is definitely the way to go because it's just—people wanna watch video.
And so YouTube is the best place to see it.
Yeah, people definitely wanna watch video for sure. So let's talk a little bit about being camera ready. So what are one or two things that you think people need to know about being camera ready? Maybe except outside of the don't wear black and white in background.
Yeah. And, you know, pick your, really pick your favorite color because that's gonna work for you. The other thing that I always tell people—and it's kind of one of the things that I always notice and it just makes a big difference—is putting the camera above eye level. And it doesn't need to be like wildly above eye level, but just enough to make a more flattering picture because that's one of the things that we really want to improve.
And the other thing is that if you're just, if you're sitting down for an interview and you know, you're kind of been been brought in somewhere, you don't, you can ask to see the image and a lot of times people will, you know, they'll take the time to show you because it is about you being comfortable.
And I think that whoever's producing or directing at the program, they should, you know, take a minute and make sure that you are comfortable. So don't be afraid to ask questions or offer suggestions if someone is coming in to interview you.
So I think that would be my other tip, is to get involved. You've been asked to be interviewed for some kind of good reason, and one of the things is listening to what you have to say about the, how the interview is being constructed as well. So don't be afraid to participate in that.
That's great. I love the camera above eye level or just above eye line. Mine's a little bit high, I think mostly because like it's on my, it's mounted to the top of my monitor and my monitor is humongous.
But I remember I was working with a client who was gonna be presenting during an online event and it was an internal online event.
And I went into one of the speaker's offices and he's really, really tall and his laptop is always sitting flat on his desk and we had to mount it to something and he wanted to have his script in front of him. So we had to have the screen a little bit to see his bullet points.
And I think it took us like eight reams of paper to bring his laptop camera up high enough. I mean we had an external camera mounted on top of it, but it was like, it was a lot of work to get it high enough so that it made sense.
Because we were looking at the background and he had monitors other than his laptop, but they faced the window. And so he was like really washed out and backlit if we did it that way. So the only way to do it from the side was to use his, his laptop and then to mount it with like eight reams of copy paper underneath it.
But people noticed that you took the care and attention to make that image better. And I think that, you know, it's not every circumstance where you're gonna do it, but you know, for something important you wanna take the extra, you know, half hour or so and set things up so they're better.
And the other thing is that, you know, you can probably, if you don't have a light, a lot of times you can set your computer screen to a white screen and that will give you just a little bit of extra fill so that people can see you better. So there's another tip.
Oh, that's a great idea. Especially for those people that don't have ring lights. I don't have a ring light cuz I already get washed out enough in the, my office is lighting is just incredible—just to say that nicely. And I always look a little bit washed out. I definitely don't need any extra light.
So what's the biggest mistake you see people make when they're appearing on Zoom Meetings, Webinars, live videos?
Yeah, so I think that I think that the thing that I notice is that it's really hard to do it by yourself, right?
And that's what most people are doing is that they're not having anybody help them manage the Zoom meeting. And if they're doing graphics or they're you know, they're trying to manage the technology and they're trying to do the interview and that's really, it's too much I think to do a really focused interview with somebody. People appear distracted cuz there's so much going on.
So I think that that's probably what I see happening. That's a pretty easy fix if you have the right people to ask. And so that's one of the things that I'm looking at doing for the station now, because community's television has always been done a certain way. Like people wanna produce a show, they come into the studio, they schedule their guests and they set up a talk show for them. And that feels just really dated to me.
And one of the things I wanna do is start doing more like live shows or podcasts on video. And so our production team would be there to help facilitate that and then you just focus on the content. So I think that's probably the big thing that I'm seeing it's not necessarily mistake, but something that could certainly be improved upon.
I definitely get that, cause I'm usually running trying to show my screen and then add links in the chat and so I've given up and just say that I'll post it later.
And then really, and you know, really engaged interview, like you are there with the person and you're able to do the follow up questions and really dig deeper. But you can't do that when you're like, you can't listen as well if you're trying to manage technology and do other things.
Yeah. If you're trying to think about what you're gonna be doing next, you're thinking about what you're doing next, not listening to your interviewee.
No, I do think that that's important and there's a ton of different ways that you can get assistance and virtual assistance and things like that to help you with that tech. They specialize in like just helping you run Zoom meetings.
So even if you are solopreneur, an entrepreneur and don't have those resources in house, they're not hugely expensive to go and outsource either.
So talk to me a little bit more about this TV station. So people are coming in and making their own shows for public TV or what is it? What is it that you're doing there?
So many communities have public access centers, cable stations, PEG stations as they're called, that's Public Education and Government. And we pay for it not through, they're not paid through taxes but paid through the cable franchise fees.
So that's where the money comes from in order to operate them. And it's really so that you know, for government it's the transparency of being able to see the meetings and what your elected officials are doing.
And then the public television is there—at the education channel for Bloomfield Township is run in the schools. And then we do a combination of public and government.
So yes, people can come in and they can produce their own show and there's people that have been doing it for 15 years here in Bloomfield Township, coming in here a couple times a month and broadcasting on the shows.
But we're really trying to figure out a way to reach people beyond the cable broadcast itself. So we're looking at developing an app for Bloomfield Township in addition to other social media and beginning shorter form video out there.
So yeah, that's what we're doing and it's kind of meant, you know, it's coming back really after Covid. There was a guy who was in this position before. He retired, I think like mid 2020 and things really came to a halt in production in general. And so it's kind of ramping things up again and how can we reinvent ourselves for the new digital age.
This show is called Imperfect Marketing. So I've always been asking people what was their biggest marketing lesson learned? Cuz marketing's not an exact science. It's about testing and adjusting all the time, as you know.
So I'll, I mean, I'll just repeat again because it was definitely a big lesson for me is that YouTube equals Google. And so that you know, just understanding that alone just made me understand how YouTube is the leader on where people are able to find the content that they're searching for.
And so Vimeo, I feel like it's, you know, it feels like more elevated higher, you know, platform that you wanna put your stuff out on, but it's just not going to get found like it does on YouTube. And so I think that it's worth repeating because it's that important.
So I like using Vimeo when I'm embedding YouTube, or not YouTube, but when I'm embedding video into like the website or something like that. Cause it doesn't give you that what's up next and can give you things that are maybe not appropriate for your website. Cause I've had a couple of clients where that popped out.
So we went ahead and started using Vimeo to host their website videos, but we also were posting them out on YouTube to get found. Why do you like Vimeo?
I think that why do I like Vimeo or why do I like YouTube?
Yeah, why do you like Vimeo or what do you think about that or?
So I think that you can adjust your settings on YouTube so that you're not leading it to the next video, although sometimes you wanna do that because if people are engaged with your content, they wanna see more about your product. And so if you have, you know, five videos, they can lead into it one another. So I do like that feature, you just have to take a little time to use it.
I think Vimeo is a cleaner platform as far as a producer. You can like, work with a couple people where you can actually—if I'm, you know, have a rough cut of something, I can put a note at a specific place in the video and so that the person that's recutting it, then they can go back to that note and actually check it off when it's gotten completed.
So I think that it's nice to be able to work in on that platform and I still think YouTube is the way to go. Because also, you know, all of the language that's being used is also transcribed and all of that is searchable. And so the videos are just, they become more found on YouTube than they do on Vimeo.
I don't know if—we'll see how long Vimeo lasts. I don't know. It's really tough to compete with everything. It's tough to compete with Google, really. That's, that's who the competition is. It's not just YouTube.
Yeah, no. And YouTube is highly searchable. I mean, I know I was looking to how to do something in Premier Pro or Adobe InDesign and if I Google it, it'll literally take me to that segment in the video because it is searching that detailed with the transcribing and everything. It's just, it's crazy how smart Google is. And that bot, I mean, for, for a computer, it's pretty cool, right?
Do you have anything else that you would wanna add that would help people with, you know, maybe getting over fear of being on camera or anything along those lines?
Oh, you know, I'll just say practice makes perfect and that means if you are given a script or you're supposed to prepare, you should actually read it out loud and practice it, like rehearse it.
And I think that's as far as what people don't do, that's probably something that you know, if you haven't been in a theater program or if you didn't grow up doing any of that, maybe you're not as practiced as you can be. But it really helps you get through it.
And I think that that's one of the things that people can do to be better and to get over that stage fright is to practice and maybe not just practice with yourself. You can, you know, practice with your partner and have someone else listen to you and give you feedback as well. It's tough to hear that feedback, but it's better to do it as a, in a practice session than in trying to just deliver it live.
Yeah, I like the idea of practicing. I know with a couple of different videos that I've done I'm always trying to watch the recording to see, "okay, you know, do, is this okay? Am I moving too much?"
You know, I watch the playback a lot of times on mute because I don't wanna listen to myself necessarily. But watching those interactions I think are, are really key.
All right. So the last question that I have for you is one that I ask everybody, and that is, what superpower would you choose for yourself if you could?
Well, I actually have a superpower Kendra. So I'll tell you, I was always a huge fan of Wonder Woman growing up as many young girls are, and I was really fascinated with her magic lasso.
And I think when you ask that question, it occurred to me that that is my superpower, is to get the truth out of people. And the way that I do that is similar to the way Wonder Woman does.
She does it with her magic lasso. But I do it when I sit people down for interview in front of a camera and I'm just able to get them to tell me pretty much whatever it is that I would need to know.
So that's my superpower, is that I can really get the truth out of people. And I think they sit down not expecting to tell me as much as they do, but that's part of the rapport that's developed over an unrushed comfortable interview is to get people to reveal.
And I'm not talking about like deep dark secrets, but, you know, thoughts and dreams and hopes and aspirations that maybe they haven't really considered until that moment or that they thought about but they haven't articulated. And that's my superpower is my power in getting the truth and interviews.
That's great. Sounds like you make a great coach, which you do do because you are a camera ready coach, so that that helps people really getting to what their motivation is behind it. And I do, I love that.
So I do appreciate it. I know you've got a crazy busy schedule with everything going on. I think you have what, at least four, like, it feels like four jobs and stuff now with this Bloomfield Township one added on as the full-time job.
My mom says I've been doing this all my life, so like it's, she thinks maybe you can get more focused now. Like, okay, I don't know, we'll see.
No, I think it's great. I think it's great what you're doing at the local cable television station and the community outreach. I think that there's just a lot of opportunity to leverage resources and for everybody to become more informed about what's going on in their community. So it is a huge resource that I think everybody needs to have and to be aware of.
So thank you for doing that. I do appreciate it because you know, my husband and I, we watch a lot of free tv, so Detroit Public TV we watch a lot of and Create is one of our favorite like little public TV networks. But it's really come because there are people that are creating amazing content for their local public television. So there's a lot to learn and a lot to see!
Very cool. So thank you again for joining me. I do appreciate it. And thank you all for tuning into another episode of Imperfect Marketing. I think Carrie's got a lot to share and a lot that you can learn from.
I will have some links in the show notes for you, so be sure to check those out on how to connect with her to see her work and to see Etcetera and everything else that she's got going on. It's pretty amazing what she's able to do and how many people she's helped. Cuz I know personally she's helped me.
So hopefully this helped you a little bit and I'll see you again on another episode of Imperfect Marketing!