Entrepreneur Training Program

Entrepreneur Training Program

This spring Amanda participated in the Entrepreneur Training Program through the Small Business Development Center at UW-River Falls. The Program is 10 weeks and is designed to help prospective and current business owners write a business plan. It was a good way to work on the business and plan for post COVID growth. The best part was meeting other small business owners and listening to their plans to start and grow their businesses.

The 10 weeks included sessions on financial projections, marketing, and digital footprints. One of the most interesting things we got to do was market research. Further honing in on our target market and how many potential customers are in each segment.

We also had to find our competitors and answer the question of what makes us unique. One of the things we discovered was our process. The way we walk our clients through telling their story in a way that will connect with their audience. This comes from Amanda’s background in psychology and television production. Amanda is able to use her education, along with personal and professional experiences to make the process of creating videos easy and fun, while creating a final product that accomplishes our client’s goals.

We are excited to implement what Amanda learned during this training both behind the scenes and in helping our clients reach their audience.

What makes your business unique?
How are you sharing that with your audience?

Video is Custom!

I received an email from a company telling me they had created over 10,000 videos and wanted to talk to me about working with them. First, umm, know your audience (though I wonder if it was spam). The other thing that hit me was the number 10,000. That seems crazy. Maybe they have a huge staff or have been in business for decades, or again maybe it’s spam.

But it made me wonder if they were sticking your images into the same video. A formula for creating as many videos as fast as possible. To me, one of the most amazing things about video is how custom it can be.

We recently did projects for two companies in the same industry. I was happy when I saw how different the videos were. Each company approaches things differently and has different demographics that they serve. And you can see that in their videos.

Each video is custom to them.

By getting to know you before the cameras ever start rolling, we are able to bring out your story in words, the images, the background, the non-interview footage, the clients, and the branding.

When you take all these elements into account and make a custom video, it’s a powerful tool for sharing your story and connecting with your ideal customers.  Whether you DIY it, hire us, or hire someone else (but please not people who cold spam you and brag about doing 10,000 videos). I hope you will take the time to make it YOUR video.

Dancing in the Kitchen

Dancing in the Kitchen

We were recently hired by a family to capture their parent’s love story. During the interview, a story was told about a time they went to a dance at the White House. We asked about the kind of dances popular at the time. The couple said, “would you like us to show you?” This couple in their late 70s, married over 50 years, were suddenly newlyweds again. Dancing together, sing along to Elvis, right there in their kitchen – thankfully with cameras rolling.

The week before we filmed Home to Sweet Home moving a client into their new space. We captured everything from the empty space to hanging pictures on the wall. Showing what they do for their clients. But nothing was as powerful as when their client came in to see their space all set up for the first time and with so much joy said, “It looks like I’ve always lived here” Hugs and tears were exchanged, again – thankfully with cameras rolling.

For us, this is what the job is all about. And in these moments, when I know we have captured something that is truly going to touch the audience I always get excited and can’t believe I get to do this for a living.

Yes, video is technical and that can intimidate people. But no matter what, every video is really about the story. Sharing something genuine with your audience. And if you are someone who is intimidated by the technical side, please do not worry – all you have to do is bring the stories and we will keep the cameras rolling.

Capture Life

Capture Life

You may have seen me wearing this cute, little camera necklace, especially on filming days. It’s great to have a piece of jewelry that relates to what you do. It’s more than that for me though. I purchased it from, Bryan Anthonys, a company that makes a variety of great pieces; each comes with a story.
As you can imagine I have quite a few.
I had the necklace called “Never Lost Compass”, but I lost it.

Recently, I was telling someone about it at a networking event, and I got to thinking about how things can have multiple meanings. This necklace is a camera and I do video production, but the story gives it a deeper meaning for me. When I wear this necklace I am reminded to be grateful for the moments and to focus on what matters. And of course, the line that says “Capture the memories that bring the most energy to your soul” resonates with me most.

Stories Give Meaning. 

Whether it’s a necklace, family photo, your business name, or the clients whose lives were changed by your non-profit.

Share your stories!
Here are some ideas on how to do that (other than video).

Digitize and caption your photos
Include photos of heirlooms
Journal or create a book

Business and Non-profits:
Be social on your social media
Share stories in your newsletters
Ask people for their stories of working with you

What does a Director of Photography do? 

Lead Sheep Team Filming in Stillwater, MN

Lead Sheep Productions at the 2022 World Sculpting Championship in Stillwater, MN

In the field of video production the director of photography does a variety of things from envisioning the framing in the shot to the movement to the camera work. Sometimes they are responsible for choosing how the shot in the camera looks but then you have an entire camera crew to actually do the setup and execution of the shot. At that point the director of photography (more commonly known as the DP). 

With Lead Sheep Productions we are a small crew, usually just two of us. Amanda is the producer. It is her job to control and direct the video content and lead the conversation/interview. She ultimately makes the decisions and approves of the camera shot and framing, but the director of photography – Danie (me) – is in charge of the gear set up and how the shot looks. 

For Lead Sheep video shoots, I set up the gear and start to set up the ‘set’. Any location we are shooting becomes the ‘set’. I start with taking a few photographs of the space to make sure at the end, everything is back to where we found it. Then we pick a place for the subject or client to sit, along with which chair they will be sitting in. We never pick a chair that swivels or moves because it is usually too hard for the person in front of the camera to sit still. 

After we find a good chair that will be both comfortable and look good on camera we place it in the best lighting. Lighting is key to creating a beautiful shot along with helping the viewer stay focused on the subject and not on the space. I set up the two cameras and make sure that they both look visually pleasing. I love to arrange the scene to have tiny pops of color, for example plants, in the background. 

Once the visual is set up with lights and camera, Amanda will approve of the shot/scene. We make sure the client is comfortable and put a microphone on them – we promise it’s painless. We do a quick sound check, final camera check and it’s time to record! Lights, camera, audio and ACTION! 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about our process and roles here at Lead Sheep Productions. We would love to hear from you! What other explanations, definitions or questions would be interesting for you to read about?  Let us know!

Here’s a few more film and production terms:

Slate: [noun] a board showing the identifying details of a take of a motion picture, which is held in front of the camera at its beginning and end. (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

For us it is the board that says the name of the project, who’s project it is, date, interior or exterior, day or night filming and which take we are on.

Take: [noun]  a scene or sequence of sound or vision photographed or recorded continuously at one time. (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

A take is the recording from start to stop, that would be take 1. The second recording is take 2 and so on. We will often split the interview topics between takes.


What does a Video Producer do?

Amanda Lathrop, Owner of Lead Sheep Productions

Amanda Lathrop, Owner of Lead Sheep Productions

When I started attending networking events it surprised me [Amanda] that people would introduce me as a videographer. Coming from the film and television industry, that term was never used. We had APs, ADs, DPs, PAs, A-cam, B-cam, and sound. But no videographers. To me, that term refers to a wedding photographer who can also shoot videos. I don’t video weddings – but I know someone who does.

According to the Google, a videographer is “a person who makes video films.” So yes, I am a videographer. And If you have ever referred to me as that, thank you! Thank you for the introduction, the referral, or the shout out.

I introduce myself as a video producer. A producer is “responsible for planning and implementing all elements of a video project.”

I actually don’t run the camera. Danie, our Director of Photography or DP, has that responsibility. Watch for her post on our blog later this month about her role.

I do the planning, meeting with the client to determine the story, what the final product will be, and what we need to accomplish that. Once on set – I direct, which includes collaborating with Danie to get the look, conducting the interview, keeping the client comfortable and genuine, and making sure we have all the elements we need for the edit. I then edit the footage into the story we had envisioned and deliver the finished product.

When you hire Lead Sheep Productions you get two people with years of experience who can produce your video, not just record it. You don’t even need to know exactly what you want to get started. Give us a call and we will walk you though the process of producing your video project.

2021 year in review

To be completely honest…
a year ago I didn’t know if we would still be around today. Like so many business we shut down completely for most of 2020. But 2021 gave us so many opportunities to capture amazing stories! We started the year off with St. Croix Valley Opera’s New Year’s Eve concert, which allowed us to step out of our typical interviews and have fun creating with singers, musicians, and the technicians at the Phipps. This will be re-streamed this New Year’s Eve – learn more here.

Mad Hatter Gala

We interviewed local businesses and community members for the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce’s Mad Hatters Ball and heard heart-warming stories about how the community came together in so many ways to still be standing strong.

We captured stories of a beloved family cabin, and the love story of Jack and Diane and only freaked out a little when that song started playing on the car radio as we were leaving, true story.

We moved, but just across the river to Wisconsin. We are still serving the St. Croix River Valley of the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin.  And we love to travel so if you want to send us some place great, we are game!

Lead Sheep interviewing Jack

Interviewing Jack for his personal history video

photos of jack and diane

Photos of Jack and his lovely wife Diane


We are so thankful for all support we have received this year!

We moved, but just across the river to Wisconsin. We are still serving the St. Croix River Valley of the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin.  And we love to travel so if you want to send us some place great, we are game!

Penny sharing her story about the family cabin and how it all began

Being part of the St. Croix Valley Community. Amanda joined the Stillwater Rotary and the Women’s Business Bridge Steering Committee. It’s been a busy year.

We are looking forward to all the stories we will capture in 2022.

In the rush to return to normal

This quote showed up in my Facebook memories last week…

I thought it was clever, back when I also thought the “new normal” would last a month or two. One year later, it means so much more to me—2018 and 2019 were hard years for me personally, so I started 2020 burnt out. When the pandemic hit, It forced me to stop and reevaluate. Over the last year, I have learned a lot about myself, what is important to me, and what I want from the next chapter of my life. It also reminded me how vital the connection and sharing of our stories is to our families, businesses, and non-profits.


Lead Sheep Productions is still here! 


But with a renewed sense of the value and honor of capturing and sharing stories. Thank you to all of you who have trusted us with your stories.


I hope we don’t just “go back to normal” but move forward with a sense of the value of a cup of coffee with a friend, our grandparents, all the work our local non-profits do for our communities, and all the small businesses that make our communities unique.

Video {can be} Scary!

Video {can be} scary!

In a recent Facebook live video (Follow us on Facebook), I mentioned that another business owner told me that “video is scary.” And it can be. Everyone is nervous! Yes, even me. But like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will be and the less scary it will become. It also helps to have someone to talk to help you be calm and have a conversation. My favorite part of any interview is I can tell the person has relaxed and is just naturally talking to me. 

Before every project, I send out a tip sheet called “How to be Camera Ready.” After the “video is scary” comment, I thought it could be helpful to share those tips with them. Then I wondered “why don’t I share that with everyone?”. Like many business owners, I can get too close to my business and miss the simple things that I know, and my clients may not know. I am now sending a welcome email that includes my Camera Ready tips to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. Sign up! 

The Roaring 20s

The Roaring 20s


 We recently created two videos for galas, The United by the Vine and The Mad Hatters Ball. Both videos included interviews with small businesses and nonprofits on how they have gotten through the last year and their hopes for the future. It was amazing to capture these stories and their message of resilience, community, and hope. 


 As restrictions are lifted, many people ask if things could look like the roaring 20s of a century ago? When people think of this time, they think of the lavish parties, gangsters, probation, and fashion. We don’t always connect this with the Spanish flu pandemic and war that proceed this time. There were 2.5 million, primarily young people,that died. This reality created an attitude of what kids today call YOLO (you only live once). 


 I am excited about gathering and seeing smiles. I also hope that the stories of the last 15 months will teach us more than not to take life too seriously but also to appreciate our connections, our time, and our strength. 


What stories do you want to capture from the last 15 months?
What have you learned?
What are your hopes for the future?