A number of years ago, when professional videographers Rick and Laura Betancourt left their home in southern California (they call it “So-Cal”) and headed to Ireland for a much anticipated vacation of scenic sightseeing, they couldn’t foresee that the trip would lead them to move to St. George, Maine.
“In Ireland we met a couple from upstate New York who afterwards invited us to come to their home for a visit,” Rick explains. “We arrived in autumn and were stunned by the beauty of the fall colors. We found we loved the northeast.”
After a number of further trips to the region, the Betancourts zeroed in on coastal Maine. “Being from the Los Angeles area, we like the coast,” Rick says. But what they didn’t like about southern California, he adds, was the intensity of suburban life there.
“We wanted space. We wanted to adjust the cadence of our lives, we wanted seasons. In southern California you’re so plugged in—it’s an engine working you to pieces.”
Luckily for the Betancourts, they could bring their videography business, Carolwood Productions, to Maine with them. “We’ve always worked out of the home,” Laura says. And they have been able to continue working with clients in southern California as they transition to grounding their business in Maine.
“Maine is a great location for us,” Rick says, noting that the couple brings 18 years of experience to wedding, event, and corporate cinematography. “This is a popular destination for events and weddings and there is so much more variety to the environment here than in So-Cal.”
The Betancourts both have strong art and graphic design backgrounds and training. “We met in college during a representational drawing class. The instructor, acting as Cupid, told Laura, ‘Hey… go check out that guy’s work over there!’ It was love at first sight. We got married—and we’re still working together!”
From there, Rick’s path diverted into the business world, working in a fast-paced, corporate environment, and Laura added strong writing skills to her resume, eventually becoming a blog manager for a couple of wedding and fine dining websites.
“We launched Carolwood Productions full-time in 2006, combining our love for the creative, with solid business understanding so we could create effective media content for our clients,” Rick says.
The company’s name is a tribute to Walt Disney, who lived on Carolwood Drive in Homby Hills, Calif. “I’ve always been a fan of things Disney,” notes Rick on the Carolwood website. Rick also shared Disney’s love of steam-powered trains. In the early 1950s Walt Disney operated at his home a 1/8 scale live steam railroad that he called The Carolwood Pacific Railroad.
Producing effective videos for clients, particularly for corporate clients, the Betancourts stress, requires much more than technical skill. “It all starts with a script,” Rick says categorically. “That becomes the bible we follow. It puts everyone on the same page and allows us to get in on the planning stage for the production. We get to do a lot of problem-solving about how best to get an idea across.”
But making successful videos for weddings and other events involves special challenges. “Wedding videographers are among the most bullet-proof people on earth,” Rick laughs. “To make a 90-minute movie, we are both shooting a 15-hour day.”
“And there are no re-shoots!” Laura interjects, adding, “And sometimes you run into adverse situations, with lots of people running around as you are trying to shoot or poor weather conditions.”
“You’ve got to make the couple look beautiful and make the venue look beautiful,” Rick says. “You’ve also got to keep focused on what the couple wants. But if you’ve got the right mindset and come prepared you’ll be in good shape.”
The Betancourts moved into their home on Route 131 in Martinsville on Memorial Day weekend last year. To celebrate their first few months on the peninsula they put together a short video titled “Summertime in St. George, Maine,” that appears in the “Recent Projects” section of the Carolwood website. “It is really just a postcard for the people we know who have been curious about what St. George is like,” Rick says. Recently, they added another video of St. George in winter using a drone-mounted camera.
Asked what the couple likes best so far about living in St. George, Laura takes a moment to decide and then says, “The friendliness of the people. In southern California life is so hectic and busy you don’t get to know people.”
Rick nods in agreement. “Folks here seem genuine, they seem real.” After a pause, he adds with a wry smile, “And now maybe, just maybe, we can slow down and get back to an eight-hour work day.” —JW
To learn more about Carolwood Productions visit carolwoodproductions.com or call 207-242-3264.
PHOTO: Courtesy Carolwood Productions