Generator Ep. 025 – Nora McCormack: Blazing a Trail to Your Ideal Life

Podcast Title: Generator Episode Title: Nora McCormack: Blazing a Trail to Your Ideal Life Episode Number: Episode 25 Publish Date: 26 Feb 2024 Episode Overview In this episode, Maine portrait photographer Matt Stagliano talks with Nora McCormack, a videographer and entrepreneur based in the Portland, Maine. She is the owner of SP Films which provides wedding video packages, a partner at Maine Studio Works, and the founder of AfterParty - a nonprofit in the wedding industry. Guest Profile Guest Name: Nora McCormack Short Bio: Nora is a high end wedding videographer based in Maine. He company, SP Films has been in business for 16 years. After a solo backpacking journey in Southeast Asia and hiking over 2000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, she decided to wind down her successful business and start a non-profit in the wedding industry that is more aligned to her values and beliefs, and her hope is to reduce the wasteful spending she sees in the industry. Nora expresses frustration with the constant advertising and marketing in their business and personal life, and wants to be an agent of change. Links: SP Films: Key Topics/Talking Points Wedding videography and personal adventures. Business struggles and personal growth. Hiking the Appalachian Trail and societal class. The impact of technology on creativity and contentment during a thru-hike. Hiking the Appalachian Trail and its impact on business and mindset. Wedding waste and repurposing flowers for charity. Sustainable wedding practices and business growth. Transitioning from video production to event planning. Legacy, customer service, and video production in the wedding industry. Resources and Links SP Films: Calls to Action Website: Subscribe to Generator: Never miss an episode – subscribe on your favorite podcast app. Leave a Review: Head over to the Apple Podcasts show page and leave us a 5 Star review if you liked the show! Help others discover this podcast. Follow on Social Media: Connect with us on Instagram or TikTok @generatorpodcast or on YouTube @stonetreecreative wedding, florals, Appalachian trail, business, video, repurpose, videographer

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Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 025 - Nora McCormack: "Blazing a Trail to Your Ideal Life"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
Welcome back friends. This week is special to me for a few reasons. For one, it’s the first time I’ve had an in person guest here in the new studio. And while there are still a lot of things I need to work out on the video side of the house, it was nice to be able to sit across from a guest and have that face to face conversation. Secondly, she is one of the most giving talented and compassionate people on the planet. My guest this week is Nora McCormack a high end wedding videographer here in Maine. I’ve known Nora for over a decade and can say with zero reservation that she is the reason I fell in love with videography, and chose the creative arts as a career. She taught me the art of storytelling and how to create videos that make an emotional impact. Well, before we met, she had already established a successful wedding video business called SP films and was the studio manager for years at outside television. For some reason, which is still an unanswered question in my mind, she hired me to host a morning show for outside TV back in 2015. I honestly still don’t know why they let me on air. But despite that huge mistake. Nora is someone that has always had an insatiable desire for adventure and never thinks well, that seems impossible. Everything is possible in her world. She’ll describe herself as having a quirky personality, but it’s not quirky. She just has a genuine passion to make everyone around her feel better about themselves. She’s the type of person that no matter what they set their mind to they make happen. Over the past few years, her adventures have become far more grandiose. While most people were huddled in their living rooms during the pandemic, Nora set off on a solo backpacking journey in Southeast Asia. Last year, she set her business aside completely and hiked over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail, you guessed it alone. That time on the trail fundamentally changed her outlook on her entire life’s purpose. She came back with a renewed passion to change her career path and base her business more on helping others rather than just making money. She’s in the midst of setting up a 501 C three nonprofit in the wedding space called after party. And I’m gonna let her tell you all about it. There’s no one I feel more at ease talking to you, and I can’t wait for you to hear her story. So let’s get started with Episode 25, which I’m calling blazing the trail to your ideal life. And this is my very special guest, Nora McCormack.

Nora Welcome to the new podcast studio. You’re my first guest here. So if anything goes wrong, I’m gonna blame it on you.

Nora McCormack 2:57
That’s fine. I’m a good scapegoat.

Matt Stagliano 2:59
Awesome. House, Portland. You’ve been down there a while now a couple of years, right? Yeah, I

Nora McCormack 3:03
moved. So I moved from Newari down to Portland in 2021. Full time. I love it. Like I love being up here in Newari. I love the mountains. I love the people. But I also had a plan to not die alone. So I moved to Portland and all joking aside, it was just easier for work. You know, otherwise, I was traveling at least an hour and a half for for jobs. And you know if I can just make that commute a little bit easier, and also get good food and see different humans and all of that. That’s nice to

Matt Stagliano 3:38
keep telling me what that’s like the promised land like and in Portland. But I really haven’t seen you a whole lot over the past year. You did the Appalachian Trail?

Nora McCormack 3:50
I did. I did. I did that. March 30 to September 15 2023. You

Matt Stagliano 3:56
gave up your business or stop your business. Right? So you were doing high end wedding films. And you’ve been doing that for 13 years and 1616

Nora McCormack 4:06
years. Wow. Time flies.

Matt Stagliano 4:08
So tell me about like, what that process was like just to make the decision going from I’m, I’ve got this really successful business to I’m gonna go walk in the woods for a couple of months. Business

Nora McCormack 4:21
has been going great. You know, I started my business in 2008. And it was just kind of on an upward trajectory until COVID. And then in 2020, I lost 90% of my business due to the pandemic. So then in 2021, I had to take on basically twice as much work as I normally do to accommodate the rescheduled events on top of the organic bookings I already had, so I went from like no work and 2020 to twice as much as I normally take which was wildly stressful and like took years off my life and then going into 2022 I was already He extremely burnt out from the year before I didn’t have that offseason to recover. It was just, you know, editing and, and chaos all through 2022. And in 2022, I also, I got into the high end luxury wedding market, which was it was that was always a goal of mine in my business was to reach that level of clientele

Matt Stagliano 5:22
like celebrities, athletes, that sort of that sort of thing. Yeah,

Nora McCormack 5:25
so I was traveling, you know, I was traveling to California a few times, I was taking on events just in different high end luxury markets that I hadn’t really had a lot of experience and before. And I achieved that goal. And I got there and I hated it. I just I stopped relating to my clients, I became the hired help you are not to be seen. And not everybody was like that, I have to say like, oh, in 2022, I had so many wonderful, amazing clients that I consider friends now I keep in touch with they were amazing. But it was just that other you know, like the small handful, I don’t want to say bad apples because they weren’t. But it was just I got to a place that I was aspiring to get to. And I got there and I realized that it just wasn’t for me. So I was just I was burnt out in that sense. And usually for my business, I booked two years in advance. But with COVID This was the first time that nobody was booking that far in advance because nobody knew what the climate would look like. So they didn’t know how live events would take place. So then I found myself in 2022 for the first time since I started my business with a completely open calendar for a summer and I was just like, You know what? Fuck it. I’m I’m taking the contact form off my website. I am letting all my clients know like, I’m taking 2023 to myself. This is my midlife crisis. This is my life reset button. I’m not taking any jobs, and midlife crisis 37 Oh, yeah, no, I’m a well, I’m gonna be dead by 54. It’s fine. Yeah, it was just the first the first time I had the ability to keep that calendar free and hiking. The Appalachian Trail has been on my bucket list since I was in high school to finally have the time and financial ability to take that time off. And, and do that was it it was it was awesome. And it was what I needed, mentally as well to kind of figure out what my next steps in the business are.

Matt Stagliano 7:26
I remember you went through Southeast Asia a couple of years back. Right. And did that. Did that experience? Stimulate? Again, the desire to go on the 80? Like was there was that part of that I know, you’ve always talked about doing the 80 as long as I’ve known you, but I didn’t know if the Southeast Asia trip was something that you were like, wow, I really enjoy this freedom and just being in my own head and no devices? And was that a stimulus to saying alright, yeah, I can do this now this part of my life? Or is it really just all the business that you were just explaining just kind of going down? It seemed like the right time to do it?

Nora McCormack 8:04
Well, since since I was in my late 20s, I’d say I try to do one thing every year that pushes me wildly outside of my comfort zone. And in 2020 that was traveling backpacking Southeast Asia by myself what that was that for me that year. And then so in 2023, I made hiking the Appalachian trail that thing for me that year. So I wouldn’t say it necessarily, like sparked the motivation to actually follow through with doing at it, let me know that I can be super happy and wildly content with nothing, but what I can carry on my back that less is more. And it just allows you to open yourself up to experiences that don’t necessarily have to revolve around money or, you know, any type of status or anything like that. It’s just, you’re you’re just with yourself and meeting people. And and you know, you don’t need a lot to be happy. Yeah,

Matt Stagliano 9:01
you had mentioned in a conversation we had a couple weeks back. That kind of stuck with me. You said everybody’s equal on the trail. Like, can you go into that a little bit like what you meant by that, and I think I got it, but I want to go in a little bit more in depth about what you saw in terms of the people you encountered. What they were like, I mean, you’re doing this by yourself. You’re not with a group of friends. Like what was that whole experience? Like both mentally and physically? I mean, physically, it’s got to be a grind but mentally Where were you with this?

Nora McCormack 9:32
I’ve been telling people the trail it’s 90% mental and 10% physical, it can be more challenging on your mind than it is on your body. I mean, my my feet are are fucked right now. Am I allowed to swear on this? As coaches you should have asked that beforehand. Like you are in physical pain all the time. But as long as your mind is strong, then you you will have no problem hiking the trail, but that was So that was one of like, one of the best parts about the trail for me, like, like you brought up is that everyone is on an even playing field. So no matter what your upbringing was, where you were in life, how much money you had in the bank, what you do for a career, what you don’t do for a career, like, you know, whether you are a doctor or a retired, retired military, whether you’re homeless, whether you are recovering from addiction, whether you just graduated high school, like everybody is the same, everybody is equal. And everybody routes for one another, everyone is supported, and everybody wants the success of those next to them. And that was the most beautiful part of the trail. Just complete strangers rooting for you, that would that was really cool. And then like to come back to a fractured society where it seems like there’s no good news, there’s, you know, it’s just to come back into a world where people are expecting things from you, and there’s like, class, you know, societal class, and it was just, it was tough to come back to that and like to see what the world can be and then see, unfortunately, like what we’ve kind of created as humans, it’s, it’s been, it’s been a little up and down.

Matt Stagliano 11:14
How long did it take you on the trail to kind of start seeing that for yourself? Right. So I gotta believe that when you started, you know, I know you were traveling, you were traveling like Hyperlite. Right? Like really light for the trail?

Nora McCormack 11:29
No, not really. So like, people that are hyper like that are ultralight backpackers like their base weight will be like 10 pounds, like they’re, you know, they are shaving ounces, they’re cutting the handles off their toothbrush to save weight. When I started my start weight on my pack was 28 pounds. And I was very happy with that. But I met many people that had a base weight of 15 pounds, and they were complaining that it was too much. So it’s like, but then I also met someone that had a 70 pound pack. And it was me their trailer Trillium was kitchen sink, because they had everything except the kitchen sink. I have a little red wagon behind me that smart. Yeah, some people I did see some wagons out there. Well,

Matt Stagliano 12:11
the question I was gonna ask was alright, so I know you’re traveling pretty light. You didn’t have like video cameras and all the gear that you use traveling with, right? So I’m assuming a phone? And at what point did you start to realize that the world outside right the world that came back to had kind of drifted away and that you weren’t checking your phone that you weren’t taking the pictures or sending people texts? Or getting to a point of that, like trail contentment, of just being present? Right, at what point? Did you find that you find that like day two? Or was it about a month in? Or? You know,

Nora McCormack 12:51
I actually that’s I hadn’t really thought of that. I don’t really like it was early? The

Matt Stagliano 12:57
reason I asked right, so I’m noticing in the creative world, right? photographers, videographers, authors, everyone’s pretty burned out by having to be attached to their phone all the time. If it’s not just for client stuff, which is perfectly viable. It’s this world of content creation that we’ve gotten into where you have to dance monkey, right, you have to put out a real you have to put out a post and it becomes overwhelming. And it I mean, I know it’s really contributed to me having bad days, thinking about the fact that if I don’t stay relevant in someone else’s eyes, then I’m not doing enough for my business. I feel perfectly fine with what I create. But I feel like oh, well, I did a tick tock now I have to do a real and it can’t really be the same thing. But you know, the demographic on Facebook is different. So let me go over there and do that. And then I have to send a newsletter and I have all the marketing stuff for a business, right, especially as a solopreneur. And I’ve kind of gone by my ass to get to my elbow on this. But at what point when you came back, did you feel like yeah, this is not for me, like, oh, like day one? Day one. Yeah.

Nora McCormack 14:13
So I’d say probably like, two weeks into the trail was when I just I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t like I kept a very basic blog just to let my dad know that I wasn’t dead. Sure. I didn’t keep up with it as much as I thought I would. Because at the end of the day, like you get to camp and you’re you’re with other hikers and you just want to talk and be present and you don’t want to be distracted by a phone. So it would be like I would get a call from my dad and get get a message from him being like, my friends are reaching out to me asking if you’re okay, can you update your blog, please? I’m like, Oh, crap, okay, yeah, no, you have to do that just to like, let people know that I’m still alive. But I’d say probably two weeks in. I hated I hated updating it. I hated having Get out I hated having just looking at things through a viewfinder and not with my own eyes. Any of that’s like carried over now like i i personally think that social media is a poison. I have stopped it with my business, I have stopped it pretty much personally. It’s just, it’s all advertising. And you’re just bombarded by whether it’s like targeted ads or you know, and I did this in my business I I was very successful my business because I was so active on Instagram. That’s how I got the majority of my leads. And it’s all an advertisement. It’s all marketing. And I feel like it’s like, i This world is just so full of you need this by this, you. You can’t be at this status unless you have this and it’s just gross. And I hate it. And I don’t want to participate in it anymore. So basically, I am a tinfoil hat wearing hippie now. And I just yeah, there’s

Matt Stagliano 15:56
an error or Nola in here that wasn’t here before. It’s more

Nora McCormack 15:59
Oh, no, that’s that’s Armand Hammer. Do. Thompson.

Matt Stagliano 16:04
Like just a crystal that you rub under there every now and again? Citrine? We’re getting there. Make the money, baby. Yeah. So it’s really it’s fascinating to me, right? Because I feel trapped in this world. Right. And, but I know, I’ve said to you before, when I get on the road, that’s where I’m happiest, right? Where I’m in my car. And I don’t know, I’ve been reading more about ADHD and things that calm that ADHD brain. And I’m finding it common that a lot of people get on the road, because there isn’t all the distraction, all the input, the sensory overload. And so hearing about this peace and contentment that you find in the trail, it’s not that much different than what I find when I’m driving 1317 hours at a clip, because it does take you away from everything, the best thing that ever happens is when I happen to look at the phone, and there’s no bars of service. And I’m like, Yes, because I can ride that excuse for a couple of days. Oh, I’ve just been in a place with no service. And it’s, it’s wonderfully freeing. So tell me about some of the folks that you met, there’s got to be two or three standout stories, right? Was there one person one interaction that you had something that you witnessed, that really started to change your mindset and give you new direction on what you wanted to do for your business or creatively or just with life in general? Was there one thing

Nora McCormack 17:34
I don’t think there was one thing there, you know, I met so many amazing people on the trip, you know, a handful of them I’m, I still keep in touch with you know, even though I started by myself, you’re never really by yourself, you’re just always you’re you can be surrounded by as many people as you want, or by nobody, you can stay pretty remote. So I met a great group of people that were in my, my bubble, as they call it. And sometimes I would hike several days with them and other times, you know, be a couple of weeks, and then I’d see them again, there wasn’t a particular person that made me shift in my mindset, I think it was the ability to be in my own mind, just completely and utterly removed from distractions, from work distractions, from relationship distractions, will no matter what that looks like, from the media from advertising, you like you are just completely and utterly removed. And I was able to be in my own head for five and a half months, which sounds exhausting, and it kind of was but it was like, at home I hadn’t had the ability to really think and process through like just a number of things, whether it’s work or personal or all of that. Because you are so distracted, there’s always someone that needs something, you have a client that needs something you’ve got, you know, you have all these obligations. And my only obligation every day was to find water and eat and find my account for the for the night. And I didn’t distract myself with audiobooks or music. I only allowed myself to listen to music on days where it was raining because I fucking hate the rain picked a great year to hike bat. But I just there was so much that I thought that I had like processed and thought that I had like worked through already but it’s I really hadn’t. But having that five and a half months to think of everything was awesome. And that’s I think that’s what got me to where I am now with my business kind of tapering off on the video side and trying to shift and go in a few other directions.

Matt Stagliano 19:44
So let’s talk about that a little bit. So I know you went from being super successful not that you aren’t now gonna want to sound like like, but you know in terms of income coming in, right you were doing really well for yourself took that time off. I’ve got to believe that Um, hiking the trail is not a cheap thing to do. You know, even if you have very little gear, it’s just the fact that you’re walking from Georgia to Maine. And you got to buy food and shoes and stuff along the way. Right? So I gotta believe that that was a little bit expensive. Did you come up with an idea on the trail to totally change what you were doing when you got back? Knowing that you’re going to have to do something to work? Was there anything that you were attracted to? Or did you have a bright idea on the trail or because your outlook changed? Were you just like, I’m just going to take whatever comes my way, and live the life of Kane and wander the earth yet? So

Nora McCormack 20:41
I had an idea in my head for the past few years, basically, what’s what started it was, I filmed a wedding, very high end luxury. After the event, I am watching them throw $200,000 worth of florals in the garbage like dumpsters? $200,000 and flowers going in the trash.

Matt Stagliano 21:04
That astounds me, it’s

Nora McCormack 21:06
yeah, it astounded me too. And it just, I mean, I see it at every event. You know, I saw it at my own wedding, the, you know, to just go back the next day and see them throw these flowers in the trash. And it just never, it never occurred, like I just never thought of it. Like what happens to these, there’s, they’re going to be blooming for the next two weeks, why are these now immediately going in the trash and it made me sick, then it made me sick in 2022, seeing an astronomical amount of money, basically just going in the garbage. So I sat on the idea for a while of like, maybe I start a 501 C three, and repurpose florals from weddings and events and do that. So um, you know, hopefully, by the time this gets published, the IRS would have approved my 501 C three filings. But I did file the paperwork at the beginning of January. And hopefully, hopefully it says it 60% Through the process application process. So hopefully that that becomes a thing. So that’s just seeing so much waste in the wedding industry, I don’t want to be a part of that anymore. So I’m trying to find ways where at the end of an event, I can feel good about the work that I’ve done. Never

Matt Stagliano 22:19
having shot a wedding outside of doing a little second shooting for you, maybe. But weddings were never my thing. And I knew that from the get go. Seeing what wedding the wedding industry was like prior to COVID and then post COVID. Do you feel like there’s been a big shift or more awareness about that level of waste? Or is it just kind of back to normal? I’ve talked to a couple of wedding photographers, and they’ve said that the entire process has changed for them a little bit in terms of the couples waiting longer having something smaller, less intricate, there’s more sensitivity to the waste in the money that’s being spent and doing better things. Do you feel like that’s a trend that’s continuing? Or is it just back to business as usual? And high ticket weddings are just wasteful? What are you seeing?

Nora McCormack 23:09
I think, like in a certain wedding market, you are seeing that so in the folks with the more realistic to you and I budgets, you definitely do see that, you know, you see more micro weddings more elopements you know, for the certain demographic there is you know, they’re prioritizing, just having experiences with a smaller group of people. But then in the high end luxury market, no one was really impacted by any type by COVID by the recession by or potential recession, whatever politics, but there’s a certain demographic, like the high end luxury market is not going to be impacted by any of that. So I didn’t when I was working those events, there, there was no expense. You know, like it was just, you know, we’re gonna spend $1.5 million on lodging alone, not including anything else. So

Matt Stagliano 24:06
it world beyond most people’s world, right? Yeah. Very

Nora McCormack 24:09
much beyond mine. So

Matt Stagliano 24:11
let’s talk about the 501 C three. Repurposing flowers. How do you do that? I mean, I can understand food waste, perhaps, but like catering, but how do you repurpose flowers.

Nora McCormack 24:24
So the company is called after party. My approach to all of this is so couples can reach out to me or planners or florists themselves, if they want to work this into into their own business offerings. They reach out to me I give them a quote of the amount of a donation they will need in order for me to repurpose their florals. So the amount that they would have to spend with after party is based off of the number of floral arrangements, the size of them and the location of their venue. And with that information, I then send them a quote and say this is Is the donation amount that is necessary in order for us to work with you, we get that, at the end of the wedding night we will take come down, collect the florals, not the vessels that they come in, because they would you know, those belong to the florist and the planners and rentals and all of that. We collect those we will we’ll be doing collections on Friday and Saturdays. And then on Sundays, they will be going to donation Mark based market, if you will. So then the couple can name another nonprofit that they would like to benefit from this market. So after party will be able to accept pass through donations on behalf of this other 501 C three. So basically all the whatever sells at this market 75% will go to the 501 C three of whatever a couple’s choice is and then 25% will be retained by after party to keep the business going. And then whatever doesn’t leave at this market, we then repurpose to hospitals, hospice shelters, and other other local establishments. Like That sounds amazing. And it’s all you know, 501 C, three updates are all donations are tax deductible.

Matt Stagliano 26:17
That’s mazing. Like it’s it’s such a it’s such an innovative idea that combines so many of what I’ve heard you talk about is your values and your beliefs. Right. And I had a conversation recently with a woman who was talking about how she works with value based businesses and and belief based businesses rather than just capitalism, right? Being capital, see. So it sounds like you really had this, this shift from I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a solopreneur. I’ve got this successful video business, and I’m making a living for myself to something that is much more value based. And that feels good to you, rather than just being part of the system, right? So if you had something perfect in mind, right, so you’ve got a $1.5 million wedding, and they’ve got $200,000 and florals and couple comes and they make this donation and you go down and you bring all this back. Tell me more about this market. So is it a physical market in Portland? Is it a kind of a virtual marketplace that you’re just coordinating things online and redistributing? Or can you tell me more about that?

Nora McCormack 27:35
Yeah. So right now I have partnered with main studio works, which is it’s a new not only event space in Portland, but it’s a video photo production house. It’s gorgeous. It’s 8000 square feet of of fun. It’s just a it’s just a big industrial space in the East Bay side neighborhood of Portland. Zach Bowen is we’re actually we’re now co owners in that

Matt Stagliano 28:00
amazing photography. Yeah,

Nora McCormack 28:01
he’s he’s super talented. But we’re going to be on Sundays hosting, hosting the markets there. Because it’s in this it’s in the neighborhood of all the breweries it’s in like, like brewery alley in Portland. So when people are out walking, walking around on a Sunday, we’re just we’re just right on the way. So we’ll be hosting that there once. Well, as long as the whole IRS gives me approval for all of this, that’s all gonna happen. It always it will, it will happen. But that’s that’s the plan on on the location of that. And then it would just be for a few hours, every Sunday, donations will be made in the name of after party, but then we just we will just whatever we collect 75% will go towards that other charity. And then we’ve retained the 25% just to keep a roof over our heads and keep the business going.

Matt Stagliano 28:57
So it’s kind of like this really cool floral farmers market right now. Are you going to? And I’m sitting here I’m like, Alright, what’s your business plan? And let’s dig into it. And what else can we do? Right? always so helpful. I am. Are you going to partner with other 501 C three is kind of in this space? Are you pioneering this, in what you know, in the wedding space? Is this really new? Or is there a model like this anywhere else that you’ve seen? There

Nora McCormack 29:25
are other businesses that do repurpose florals? But the closest market to us is in Boston, and they’re called the reef flower project. And they’ve they’ve been around since I think 2015 or 2018. And a lot of the other floral repurposing businesses that are around the country. The all they do is they just collect and then redistribute. There is no market to benefit another nonprofit. And I was just thinking, you know, how can I make this a little bit different, but then also, how can I use this is business to also benefit the community, the local community and other nonprofits, other charities, you know, how, how else can I be of service to others. So that’s kind of where this whole market stems from.

Matt Stagliano 30:14
And I love that. I mean, you’re maximizing at every turn what you can do with these florals and give back to the community and support yourself and feel good and sleep at night, right? I’d love to see this grow to a place where you’re bringing in, you know, other charities other 501 C threes that are working at that same market, right and doing the same thing, is there a plan for that to include other other organizations on that Sunday at main studio works to come in and participate in that as well, if they are aligned with the same sort of values that you have?

Nora McCormack 30:51
That has not crossed my mind? We’re like, I will

Matt Stagliano 30:55
send you an invoice.

Nora McCormack 30:57
Okay, good. At this point, it’s just, I’m only going to have the capacity to work with it in what I’m conjuring Yeah, one thing at a time, I

Matt Stagliano 31:09
let me tell you how you should run your business that I know nothing about. Let me do that for you. Let me mansplain to you for a little bit. Could I please, good lord, I hear myself. So I’m just like, This is ridiculous. But, you know, it does get my mind thinking a lot more about how anybody can use their business, to benefit the community to serve a little bit more to get back to what’s kind of really important. And I think that’s one of the big things that came out of the pandemic for a lot of people was, most of the shit that we deal with day in and day out just doesn’t matter, right? I saw this a lot in the corporate space where you have people that are quiet quitting, or they’re just basically saying, I am going to work the bare minimum because you’re paying me the bare minimum. And as many issues as Gen X has with Gen Z, I think there was this thought revolution that happened, that really made people look at things differently. What I’m seeing is more of more of the solopreneurs. And entrepreneurs wanting to do more, but not knowing what to do, I want to give back. But I don’t want to just give my money to a charity where I don’t know where it’s going to go or how it’s going to be distributed. Or it’s going to pay the CEO of that nonprofit, a million dollars a year, which isn’t really that much different than anything else. So have you worked with anybody else in the industry that is doing or maybe outside of the industry? Right? I know, main studio works is connected to a lot of folks, are you seeing that this is a trend with businesses as well that want to give back a little bit more rather than just writing a check to some charity? Are you seeing activity from businesses that are trying to do more down in Portland? I mean, I’m here we don’t have a lot here. So what do you see in Portland,

Nora McCormack 33:00
at least in the wedding industry, I know that there are a number of businesses where a certain percentage of their profits, they donate like 2% of their profits goes towards a particular charity of their choice. Even just with the repurposing of florals, I’ve, there is a demand for it. I’ve seen you know, like, last season, a few people heard that I was like, maybe going to start something. So they reached out to me to let me know, like, Hey, I’ve got a client that wants to do something with their flowers, are you in a position to do that? I’m like, not, I didn’t have the bandwidth to tackle something like that at the time. So I’m like, there’s demand for it. And it’s which is good. That means that couples are thinking about what happens after the event, you know, and how they can help contribute towards, you know, less landfill waste, you know, and just all of that, all right, I’m gonna

Matt Stagliano 33:51
bring it back around to something that we talked about earlier, cool. You’re going to have to market this, you’re going to have to do something online social media, right, that becomes the big thing, right? It’s such an amazing idea that I think is going to resonate with so many people knowing that that causes a visceral spinal reaction in you, as you start to talk about this and educate people. What is it that you’re going to need right now that people might be able to help with? Is it spreading the word right? Once the IRS gives you all the paperwork, right? Is it education? Is it talking to planners or couples? Where do you see the most direct route for getting this out there as a model,

Nora McCormack 34:37
really just networking? I’ve built up a wonderful network in the wedding industry in Maine and in New England. So it’s just letting those letting letting my my peers know that hey, I’m, this part of my business is going away this year, and I’m starting this. I’ve had great support from several planners. So For several florists, there are already people in the industry that are supportive of what I’m doing and want to see this come to fruition not just for me, but just as an option for people that are getting, you know, just to not have more shit end up in the trash. All that

Matt Stagliano 35:18
it’s fascinating to me, what happens in the wedding industry? Again, I’m an outside observer, right? And you’ve got this amazing network, not only in Maine, but in New England, like you said, I’ve got to believe that there’s going to be a lot of, you know, dough, why didn’t I think of that sort of stuff? I think it could really become a model that’s used nationwide. Right? And thinking about that growth. And what’s gonna go into that? What keeps you up at night? What, like,

Nora McCormack 35:48
I rip a bowl before bed? And I’m out like a light. Sorry, just kidding. Kind of.

Matt Stagliano 35:58
On the train high five. Yeah. So are you apprehensive about it growing too fast too quickly? Is it just you don’t know what you don’t know. Does that excite you? Does it make you nervous? Right, this is brand new for you in every regard. I know. You’re kind of crazy plant lady. But, you know, in terms of florals, it’s not like you’ve been a florist for 20 years. True. Right? Yeah. So what? What causes you that little anxiety? Forget about the business and the money and all that? Are there any parts of the business that I can? Like, I gotta I gotta learn that and fast.

Nora McCormack 36:33
Yeah. I mean, that’s that goes with any business that anybody starts is you get into it. And like, I don’t I, I know nothing. Yeah. And I am here to learn all of that. I’ve reached out to a few of my floor, florists, friends, just to be like, Hey, I will volunteer to help you break down an event. So that way I know the process. I know. Like I can pick their brains about the most like effective ways to break down an event things that I might not have even thought of that they know just after years of experience doing it. So I will be volunteering my time and service to a few friends this summer. Just to like, get my hands get in face first and and learn that process of it. Is

Matt Stagliano 37:20
it your fucked feet? Oh, God,

Nora McCormack 37:22
they hurt so bad.

Matt Stagliano 37:23
So tell me tell me about that. Right. I see. You’re wearing slippers and I’ve seen you’re wearing

Nora McCormack 37:27
footbeds and I’m too All right. Well,

Matt Stagliano 37:30
we don’t have to look at your feet. Thank God this is just charge

Nora McCormack 37:33
a premium on feet. Am I choking? Or am I not? You don’t know.

Matt Stagliano 37:39
I know you’re not. So speaking about your feet and kind of going back to the trail you’re in. You’ve always been a great hiker always been in great shape. super athlete. Why? What happened on the trail with your feet? Like, is it just the repetitive 1020 miles a day? I mean, is that it is that you have just terrible feet like what’s the Well

Nora McCormack 38:00
what happened was I walked 2,198.4 miles. What happens? Yeah, no, it just that’ll that’ll do it? No, I had plantar fasciitis and one foot already and I die evened it out a little bit. So I have it in both feet now. But that’s the most common injury among thru hikers. Permanent thing

Matt Stagliano 38:25
I can’t imagine God I hope not.

Nora McCormack 38:27
But no, I have to do exercises every morning certain stretches, I have so much energy I just I started working out again and I started running again and I’m in the gym like five days a week running and I shouldn’t probably shouldn’t be but fuck it. They’re fine.

Matt Stagliano 38:44
What’s the next big thing you’re doing? Well, I guess I’d say this year and it’s I’m sure the business but is that the big scary thing that you’re doing this year? That is

Nora McCormack 38:52
the big scary thing is closing my business after 16 years. So I am taking on weddings, this filming weddings. So I’m doing my last year different before I had a set price like here is my minimum. Talk

Matt Stagliano 39:06
about that a little bit like a high end luxury wedding video. As the world moves to more video, I gotta believe there’s high demand for it. So where were your Where are your prices? Right? And what are you doing now?

Nora McCormack 39:23
So in 2022, my I had like a base minimum of I guess it’s my pricing structures kind of switched and they changed quite a bit. But at one point, my starting rate was $9,500. So that was that was my base minimum package and then you could get add ons from there in 2022. My average wedding was right it was about not at that 9500 mark. And this year, I am not putting I’m telling couples like if you prioritize human connection over Pinterest boards like, if you want something that will stand the test of time over something that will live on social media for 15 seconds, I’m want to work with couples that have similar values as I do, as far as video content goes where it’s not to be show Bodie and show off and look at, you know, look at how much money I spent on my wedding type of situation over. Thank you for preserving this because this is a family heirloom that, you know, we can pass on to for generations. So I’m not limiting. I’m working with all budgets. So I have one couple, they booked for $1,000. And it’s, you know, I’m only shooting their ceremony. But then I have another couple of they did book at $9,500. And I’m shooting two days. So I’m working with everything, like from, you know, I’m working the entire spectrum of budgets, because I want to work with people that that I can relate to. And I don’t want people to be limited on having quality video coverage, just because they can’t afford it.

Matt Stagliano 41:07
Again, it comes back to that alignment with what you want out of life. And you want to connect with people that are in that same bubble and that same level of alignment with how they see the world. Now, I’ve always seen you and I hold you up as kind of the standard for storytelling. When I’m talking about video, because over the years, I’ve seen you tell phenomenal stories, and you’re relatively for a video production company, you’ve run things pretty running gun, right? It’s like, typically you in a second shooter, and you know, 234 cameras, maybe but it’s generally, you know, a smaller operation. But the stories that come out are just astounding to me. Are you always planning on telling stories that way? Do you have a Do you have a thought of incorporating video with after party and telling your story? Like do those documentary wheels turn? And how can I use the skills that I have that I’m no longer using in the wedding industry? How can I tell that same story for you know what I’m doing over here? Now? Is there any plan for that? Do you have that story already forming in your mind how you’re going to how you’re going to tell it?

Nora McCormack 42:20
I mean, it’s less of a story and more of like, marketing talk I catch like, I’m keeping all my camera gear like I’m gonna I’m going to stay behind the camera. But it’s to be able to, you know, put video messages out there, but like, who I am, why I’m doing this.

Matt Stagliano 42:36
That’s why I’m here peppering you with questions. Oh, my

Nora McCormack 42:39
gosh, I gotta think about that now to look, you know, as you

Matt Stagliano 42:42
kind of know, I’m gonna relate it to my own business, right. And one of the things that a lot of people look at when they’re researching photography is your website, right. And I hear from a lot of people that the videos that I’ve put on my website, were just me talking about the process had been a huge help. When I was making those videos, it was all about this is just me this, I want people to be able to see me hear me understand who I am before they ever call me or send an inquiry because it helps weed out the you know, the the folks that either don’t connect with me or just don’t vibe or whatnot, it’s become such a critical part of messaging, I’d love to see, like how you create this and what you’re thinking about in terms of going to a wedding after the fact. And shooting the waist. Seeing what’s there. Oh, that’s gonna mean shooting the ways this is what’s been going on. This is why I am the way that I am. These are the beliefs that I have is that customer education at the same time, you know, promoting the company. And I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Because I know how your storytelling brain works. And like you see the world and this B roll and know exactly the audio that you’re going to put over it. And it fascinates me I’d love to see what you’re creating there. Now do you feel like you have to create like a I don’t want to say a Kickstarter promo video. But is there anything in the works for that initial marketing?

Nora McCormack 44:13
I have someone working on the website already. And there will be video pieces that are on there. But it’s going to be more like the two camera setup of me talking about why? Why I’m doing it how, like how it works. Just go through the process of you know what people can expect when they work with me.

Matt Stagliano 44:33
It’s a big shift. And when you do a huge physical event, like the 80 and you spent all this time in your own head. Now that you’re back here, and you’re putting it all into practice, does it line up with what you created in your head on the trail? Are you like bringing that to fruition? Are you finding that in reality again, that it’s different than what you had pictured? Or are you just adamantly Going towards your goal. I think either one is fine. I’m just curious as to what you’re finding now that the rubber hitting the road,

Nora McCormack 45:05
I didn’t necessarily know like think that it would go one way or the other. Between having this be my last year filming weddings, getting this nonprofit started and hopefully I’ll get the paperwork back soon. So I can really hit the ground running, I haven’t really been able to do a whole lot with it until I get that approved status. So I’ve taken over the event side of main studio works. So also creating the marketing materials and getting the word out that main studio works is not only available just for, for photographers and videographers as a production studio. I have three things going on. They’re not crazy busy, but with all three things combined. It’s, I’d keep it it’s keeping me keeping me busy.

Matt Stagliano 45:51
How do you feel giving up the video side?

Nora McCormack 45:54
So excited? Yeah. Yeah.

Matt Stagliano 45:57
Do you feel like you’re going to miss it? At all?

Nora McCormack 46:00
Um, some aspects? Yes. Like I, I’ll probably still keep some of my clients, a few of them. And I’ll probably still second shoot for some of my friends companies around New England. I just, I’m very excited for something different. I found like, every 15 years or so I need to do something different. Like I did broadcast for 15 years. I’ve had my business for 16 years, like, Alright, it’s time time for something new. And so I’m really excited about whatever this new thing is, you know, between the events, that means studio works and after party with the event repurposing event florals, and then just letting go of sp sp films. I’m happy I was able to bring SP films to the level that it got to. But it’s also so fucking exhausting to try to keep up with everything in the video market. Like, as soon as you get a whole new camera set up. It’s like, well, that’s outdated. Now you need 8k? And I’m like, people are watching this on their phones. Like, sorry, no, I love so better and just No, not better.

Matt Stagliano 47:11
The listeners don’t know. But you taught me everything that I know about video taught me how to tell stories taught me how to run production taught me how to edit. Right over the years, you’ve been this incredible mentor for me. You’ve also been very strong in your beliefs about what people need and what they don’t. And Ben, because of your frugal nature, don’t love to see people overspend. Right? You don’t need 8k If it’s a backyard wedding. Right? And necessarily depends on the backyard, I suppose. But I think you’re very, you’re very good about giving people the best possible product for what they normally pay for. But what they want, like you listen to the customer, your customer service has always been off the charts. Is there anything that you’re seeing, like in the video space, you’re just talking about like instant obsolescence? Right? Are you seeing anything that’s just like, that’s overkill? If you’re hearing this from a videography company, like you might want to look elsewhere,

Nora McCormack 48:11
everyone runs their business the way that they want to run their business. And I it’s a very diplomatic answer, like I do, I applaud people like you know, I do things differently than a lot of people like I you know, and I think that’s, that’s the beauty of having your own business is you can run it however you want to, if you want to focus on tick tock videos and like, just shoot a wedding strictly with social media in mind, like, go for it, I applaud you. Like that’s your thing. And that’s beautiful, that that’s your thing. That’s not my thing. And just because I think your thing is poison doesn’t mean that I’m right. Like, you know, it’s

Matt Stagliano 48:49
let me liken it to this. Okay, so I’m never gonna put you on the spot and be like, name names. Yeah. In the photography world. A lot of times I see people chasing gear, the business owners chasing gear, if I just get the R five, I’ll be a better photographer. If I just get the Sony FX, Alpha 9000. I’ll just be a better photographer. I need this. I need this. I need this. I need this. When it comes to telling a story. Right? I’ve seen you work with gear that is not 8k, and you’re able to craft these beautiful pieces. Do you feel like the art of storytelling is being lost to technology?

Nora McCormack 49:30
I do. I definitely do that as you know, especially with young, the younger younger crowd that’s getting into the wedding film industry. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they’re shooting these events only with a quick highlight reel in mind like so they’re not shooting the entire ceremony. They’re not shooting these events in their entirety. They are doing it specifically for certain shots. And they’re not thinking of the big picture down the line like so when the bride A mother passes away years down the road. She’s like, Hey, I, you know what, I didn’t purchase this at the time. But I would really love her toast that she made. Oh, we didn’t capture that, because that wasn’t any content that would make this quick highlight reel. So like, I’ve seen that, and I’ve heard that people come in, they hire a videographer. And they get this beautiful highlight reel and say, Oh, this is great, I would love more, well, we didn’t shoot for more, because you didn’t purchase more. So it’s like these people that are coming up in the industry, like you have to shoot these events as if you’re putting together as if the client is getting everything, even if they’re only getting a two minute highlight, you have to film all of it. And you have to film all of it well, to the bit like to the best of your ability, because also it allows you to upsell after the event. You know, like a lot of couples, they don’t receive, you know, they get funds they get they get money from friends and family as a gift for their wedding. So the money that they didn’t have before the event where they had to have a more frugal budget. Now they have this abundance of cash after the wedding like oh, now we can purchase that longer highlight. But if their videographer is like, Well, you didn’t buy that you only got the sizzle reel. So I don’t even have that content. It’s like well, you’ve just done them a huge disservice. And you have lost those memories for them. So that’s something I’ve heard of happening in the industry, and also just, you know, people so focused on getting, you know, having that gimbal shot and like following you down the aisle and this and that. It’s like, you’re an eyesore, like, you know, there are other ways to capture moments without being a focal point, don’t you? It’s not about you. And that just comes down to experience. Sure.

Matt Stagliano 51:44
And I think there’s, I think that nails it, right. So I’ve seen the weddings that I’ve gone to, you never even noticed the photographer and the videographer. And those are ones where I was like, they’re the pros. Those are the ones that just fade into it. But then you see what they captured afterwards. It’s like, oh, yeah, they were totally worth the money. And then you see exactly that someone flying a drone, right over the couple at the moment of the first kiss. And you’re like, really, it’s a flying lawnmower? What are you doing? Yeah, but it’s this thought that if I can just make this highlight the sizzle reel, that’s just fire, then I’m going to be able to get higher ticket clients and grow. And you know, it’s a very entrepreneur, bro way of approaching a business. Again, like you said, I don’t care how you run your business. The last art is not on the storytelling. But it’s the customer service and why we do what we do. I know I get a lot of times, you know, I try to I try to sell portraiture. Because there’s a legacy involved in it. I had a I had a client of mine recently passed away very suddenly. And we had done a session about a year and a half ago. And we’re great. We kept in contact. And then I hadn’t heard from her for a while. And then I I saw the obituary and it floored me. And I reached out to her daughter and said, hey, you know, here are all the images that we shot. I don’t know what she provided to you. But I want you to have these, right. And she was so thankful, because we also did a video interview while she was here. And that had never been published that, you know, I had never even shown her. And it was her mom telling this whole story about how much she loved her kids and all the things that she was going through and why she was doing this photo shoot, and never seen the light of day. And I sent that to her as well. Because that to me is far more important than $1. Right? I would rather do that and make someone feel really good than being like, I, you know, my condolences. If you would like these photos, it would be $1,500 I just that that makes my skin crawl. And I’m seeing that that customer service. Art is missing these days, there’s the chasing the dollar, versus creating that legacy creating the memories, right? We don’t just push buttons for social media likes and vanity metrics. We do it to help people preserve these memories, right? We’re not around all the time. So it’s really interesting that you mentioned that because I’m noticing it as well. And I’m about to head out to WPI in a couple of weeks. And it’s one thing that I am always looking for when I get into conversations with other photographers. Where’s their heart space? Why are they doing what they’re doing? Right? Is it because they’re bored? Or is it because they do want to serve and give back because they do understand the impact of what creators create and the visuals that we create and the memories that we create. I love that you’re seeing that and I love that you’re staying in your place of integrity with not only your own business but how your time Think about it to other folks as well. You’ve forgotten more than I’ll ever know about shooting video in the wedding industry, and you’ve got a stellar reputation, I would love to bring you back, once we get to a point where you have some time on your hands, and you want to come back and talk about that. And you’re out of the industry a little bit. I’d love to dig in and hear some of the stories and what you would advise people to do. Any interesting coming back. Yeah, I can do that. Cool. This has been amazing. Now,

Nora McCormack 55:30
I don’t know if I gave you anything that you can use on this podcast, or like godspeed in the editing process. Because I this, this goes a little bit. But that’s

Matt Stagliano 55:40
what this all is right? And a lot of people come on the podcast, and they’re like, you know, what should I say? What should we talk about? I don’t care. The whole reason I started generator was there’s a lot of podcasts out there that only focus on your business, your process, your system, the media packet, right? I don’t want that. I want to hear you stumble over words, I want to hear you talk from the heart, I want to get to know you a little bit more. And I want anybody that’s listening, to get to know my guests a little bit more the behind the scenes stuff. This is why I do what I do. Hearing the story, in the detail that you’ve given it to me, you know, I’ve known a little bit about what you were doing. But I never knew really the intricacies of it. I can only imagine that this is going to be a huge success.

Nora McCormack 56:31
Fingers crossed.

Matt Stagliano 56:32
So immediately, in the future, I know you’re waiting for some paperwork to come back. What can people do to find out more about what you’re doing? Or is there a date when you might have some more information available? Government depending but how can they get in touch with you if you know people are listening to this and they want to be involved or want to help? Or maybe there are a couple that is thinking about doing this? How do they get in touch with you?

Nora McCormack 56:59
At this point, I’m waiting for all paperwork to come back before I launched the Instagram before I launched the website before I anything hits the public facing front. I just I needed to wait for that little bit of information from the IRS. But if people are interested in either video or floral redistribution, or you know event at main studio works, Nora at SP dash or events at main studio those are those are my two active emails. So people can reach out there.

Matt Stagliano 57:36
Get a mailing list going for this. I know I know.

Nora McCormack 57:41
You’re not going after I delete all my emails

Matt Stagliano 57:46
in my or someone.

Nora McCormack 57:49
someday, someday I love

Matt Stagliano 57:51
this new side of you that I just said that has to do business but hates business. I love it. You’re part of the machine but you’re looking for a way out and I’m

Nora McCormack 58:02
just kidding. No,

Matt Stagliano 58:04
I think it’s it’s a common sentiment that a lot of people have and I love the fact that you’re walking the walk and following that dream the big scary dream a lot of people don’t ever do it. And you do it year after year after year and that that’s impressive as hell yeah.

Nora McCormack 58:17
I’m a psychopath. That’s fine. That’s one of the words.

Matt Stagliano 58:22
Thanks for being here. Thanks.

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Generator Ep. 024- Caron Shahrestani: Building a Values Based Business with Video

Episode Overview

Join us as we explore the worlds of video marketing, social change, and self-discovery with the insightful Caron Shahrestani. Caron shares her journey from journalism to videography, her experiences confronting cultural inequities, and her mission to empower others through video and coaching. This episode tackles a range of important topics, including the shifting social landscape, women’s leadership, and the power of storytelling for impact.

Guest Profile

Caron Shahrestani is a videographer, coach, and founder of Caron Modern Media. Based in Silicon Valley, she helps businesses navigate the evolving video landscape with compelling storytelling and authentic marketing strategies. Corona is passionate about breaking down societal barriers and fostering a more inclusive and equitable world.

Website: Explore Caron’s work and offerings at
Schedule a Strategy Call: Book a complimentary call with Caron at

Generator Ep. 017 – Adam Metterville: The Freedom of Freelance Videography

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Adam Metterville – a freelance videographer and video editor for over 20 years

With experience in commercial and corporate video, weddings, interviews, broadcast, motion pictures or Web series, Adam has literally been there and done that in all aspects of modern videography. We talk about mixing business with hobbies, some of Adam’s best advice for new videographers, and the importance of always having snacks.

For more information about his work and how to hire Adam, please visit his website at or follow him on social media @adam.metterville

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