This may only be the second ever interview on the Kelly Peloza Photo Blog (the first was with EM Interiors Chicago), but we’re setting the bar high. So far, I’ve chosen to feature people who are making their own way in their careers, and their local communities. That’s one of the reasons I chose to feature Andi Woodward and Betty Allen of Seadog Creative, their brand new video and creative services company in Milwaukee, WI.
I met Andi freshman year of college at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, and Betty a few years later, just before I moved back to Chicago. When Andi texted me earlier this year about starting a production company with Betty, and follow up question, will I work with them to develop their brand’s aesthetic and create the photography for their website, I was so excited about it all! I took a day trip to Milwaukee and we did something like 7 locations/shoots in one day because that’s how we do.
The Seadog Creative website and demo reel launched just a couple of weeks ago. I sat down with, or rather, exchanged some emails with Andi and Betty to talk about their vision for SDC, focused on the dynamic of working together and starting a business together. Through the images and words on the website, they’ve managed to create a down-to-earth, personable brand. But really, there’s less “managing” and “creating” involved on that front, because that’s just who they are.
Kelly Peloza: Let’s start with the basics! Who and what is Seadog Creative, and what do you do?
Andi Woodward and Betty Allen: We describe ourselves as a video and creative services team, but at the end of the day we’re really just two best friends who love working together and want to make the best work we can possibly create.
Now, the interview:
KP: How did you two meet, and what was the first ever project you worked on together? How quickly did you know/long did it take to realize that you wanted to work together for the long haul?
AW: I still find it so crazy how we met—just through this string of random, mutual friends. I remember the first time I saw Betty was at a party of hers up in Oshkosh. She was the total life of it, so much fun and full of energy. I thought she was the coolest then and she’s still the coolest now, haha.
We didn’t grow up together, I’m from Southeastern Wisconsin and Betty’s from further North, but we both ended up in Milwaukee for school. We saw each other one day and decided to grab coffee, then we learned that we were both filmmakers who really loved editing and storytelling. Eventually we both got an internship at a local agency and we’ve been working together ever since!
You know, I feel so lucky, because I think for most people it takes years to find someone you can work so closely with and who you would trust sharing your goals and essentially, career with. It didn’t take long for me to see how passionate and hardworking Betty was, so I probably would’ve started something like Seadog with her long ago. But I’m glad we waited; I feel like we’re at the right point in our lives for this—and a bit smarter than we were in college, haha!
BA: Andi is actually the one who introduced me into the video world by referring me to her boss about an internship. She hadn’t seen any work I’d done (and I really hadn’t done much) but she was a good friend and gave me a shot—something I’m forever grateful for. That’s when we really started to develop our skills and style of editing, and we came up together learning and pushing each other to work harder and try different things. I think what makes us such a strong team.
I always thought Andi’s editing was so sharp and thoughtful, which caused me to strive to be better myself. Having someone that makes you want to be better is so important to have in life which is how I knew I wanted to be business partners with her.
KP: You just launched your website! What was the development process like, and what was the motivation behind the stylistic choices, visuals, and foundation of your brand?
AW: Yes! The website and branding has been a labor of love. When we first started thinking about the idea of SDC, we knew right away that we wanted our brand to attract the type of projects and people we want to work with—honest, passionate, and good-willed.
That’s why we chose photography as our main aesthetic medium, because we really trust its ability to tell our story and show who we really are not only as filmmakers, but as two best friends chasing after their dreams. I never want to use a photo for Seadog that feels overly staged or doesn’t show our faces in mid-laugh because that’s just not who we are.
Of course when all of this started, you, Kelly, were my first call to shoot photos and to help us develop an aesthetic because you’re a fellow badass boss that I knew I could trust to help us build the brand we envisioned. When I first saw the photos from the shoot, I thought to myself, “Wow, I really need to make the site match the quality of this photography.” Seriously though—they’re incredible! I don’t know if the site does them complete justice, but I’ve never been so happy with the outcome of a project this big. I can’t thank you enough for sticking with us through this whole process. [Ed. note: I swear I didn’t make them say that.]
BA: Andi developed the website so I got to sit back and watch as these beautiful photos arrived and the slick site started to appear. I will say that when we were conceptualizing, we knew we wanted a site that was easy-to-understand, clean, and visually-driven. We wanted minimal text so that our photos and work could speak for us. Something that was important to us was that when someone visited the site they could truly get a feel for who Andi and I are as people and professionals. Which is what led us to go with the photo-heavy layout.
KP: While I’m sure there is no “typical job”, what type of experience can a potential Seadog Creative client expect from start to finish? What do you bring to the table that makes for a unique experience?
AW+BA: You know, what’s so great about Seadog is that we can pick up a project for you at any stage in the process—so a job can range from writing a treatment to being given footage from a shoot and finishing the post production process.
Regardless of what project we’re working on, you can count on a good experience and collaboration with us. We are focused, passionate, and always approach problems with the goal of providing a solution. Sometimes we’re not the right people for the job, but we will do our best to point you in the right direction—and we believe it’s that honesty that will build the relationships we would like with clients.
KP: What is your favorite type of project to work on? How do your working styles and personalities complement one another when on the job?
AW: I think our favorite project to work on is working on a project from start to finish. While we work a lot as editors in post production, it’s really great when we get the opportunity to be able to be a part of creating the content we’ll get to piece together in the end.
Like I’ve said before and will continue to say forever, we really enjoy working with people who are just all out passionate about their project. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as that passion is there, we’re down.
Haha, oh man, sometimes I don’t know if I would get anything accomplished without Betty. Even though I’m a pretty serious and focused person, I love to daydream and think about every single idea and possibility for a film. I would spend days researching and writing, and while these are all good things to have as a filmmaker, you have to have someone there to kind of pull you out of that process and be like, “hey, you’ve done your best, now you’ve got to actually make something the rest of the world can see.”
Betty is someone who I’m not afraid to bounce everything (literally, everything) off of, and that’s a huge deal to me – not only as a friend, but as a creative. It’s so easy to feel like your idea isn’t good enough, but you never know until you just spit it out.
I’d like to think that this relationship between us makes for an open creative environment, and allows us to give everything we’ve got to every project. We really just trust each other.
BA: I agree with Andi that we love to be a part of the creative process as early as possible. Also, we really enjoying challenging ourselves and learning new techniques. So an awesome project for us would be something where we could push ourselves to get better at editing, effects, or color grading.
Andi and I are so similar and yet so different that we end up supporting and balancing one another really well. When I have an idea, the first person I want to share it with is Andi because I know she will be as excited about it as I am, and vice versa. Not only will she support my idea but she will have 10 more to make it better. And I know she always has my back and would let me know if something I’m doing isn’t working. The best thing about our working styles is that we are able to do this without offending or hurting the other person.
KP: Seadog Creative is brand new! What are some of your goals for the first year, and beyond?
AW: Goals! Yes! We have so many. For our first year we would like to start building solid relationships with clients, meet more creatives outside of Milwaukee, and then shoot our first official short film together where we’re both writing and directing.
I think down the road we’d love to write, shoot and edit some spec scripts on a larger scale. There are so many brands out there that we admire, and we have so many ideas that we’d love to get to them somehow. I’d love to focus on that as we grow the company.
Another big goal is to travel for work outside of the Midwest. We both love traveling and would love to do some work on the road for the right brand out there.
BA: We want to look back after one year and see that we put all the effort possible into our projects, delivered good work, and made our clients happy. Since we are fledgling company, we know how important each project is, not only to the client, but for ourselves in regards to developing our brand. After that, like Andi said, we’d love to meet more creatives in different cities and expand our network. Who doesn’t want to take a work trip to Portland?!
KP: Describe a great day in Milwaukee, including some of your favorite places to go. What would your visitors to do over a weekend?
AW: I would definitely try and hit up as many different areas of the city as I could. Stop at Colectivo in Riverwest for some coffee (or tea if you’re like me and can’t handle caffeine in the morning). Head over to the lake to wander through the Milwaukee Art Museum, because you just can’t beat that view.
Pit stop in the East Side at Comet Cafe for an Artichoke Melt and Bloody Mary—or PBR with a sweet koozie, whatever we’re in the mood for. Head down to Bay View for some shopping on KK and a walk through Humboldt Park—because it’s so big and beautiful!
If we wanted to go for a bike ride we’d hit up Coast In Bikes in Walker’s Point to get them a bike to rent for the day because owners Carolyn and Tristan are amazing human beings and would tell us the best ride to take through the city.
Head to the Third Ward in the evening because it’s so beautiful at night. Talk about how much I love MIAD, check out any open galleries and then hit up the Irish Pub for a quick Guinness before we head over to Lakefront Brewery for hands-down, the greatest brewery tour in Milwaukee.
I can’t even choose where I’d bring someone for dinner because there’s so many great places. But I’d either bring them to Izumi’s for some incredible sushi, La Perla for the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten, or Palomino for some fried chicken and delicious whiskey. Regardless of the dinner choice, we’re going to Walker’s Pint for a nightcap, or if there’s a Packer game we’re heading back up to Riverwest to see Roxie at Klinger’s to root on the good old green and gold.
Then we’d crash at my little brick home in Bay View, because I’d be totally beat, haha. I think I realized my ideal day in Milwaukee involves a lot of eating and drinking, hahaha! Oh well, there’s so many great places and people to meet; that’s what really counts.
BA: So many things! So many foods! No matter where I am I need to start my day with coffee (unlike Andi I can’t get enough caffeine) [Ed. note: I’m with you there!] and if someone was visiting Milwaukee a cool place to stop for some coffee would be the Stone Creek Radio Milwaukee location. Not only would you get some fine brew, but also check out our awesome Milwaukee radio station, 88.9.
If you are visiting Milwaukee it is a must to visit the lakefront, and I’d suggest walking down by South Shore park. It’s a little less busy than some of the other lakefront areas and you can get great pictures of the lake with the city in the distance.
If you are here for the weekend, I’d say get yourself into Maharaja for the delicious Indian lunch buffet. When I lived on the East Side I hit that up plenty and I dream about it every weekend still.
Make sure while you are in Milwaukee to stop by Honeypie to get yourself a slice of pie, IT IS THE BEST. My personal favorite is Milwaukee Mud, the plate feels heavy when you get that piece of pie, it is so filled with goodness. I’m going to make myself stop thinking and typing about it now otherwise I won’t stop.
I’d suggest if you are coming to Milwaukee to plan for a time when you can go to a show at Turner Hall, my favorite venue. It’s old and awesome and has a true old Milwaukee feel with the cream city brick. Enjoy a locally made beverage at Turner to really cap off a true Milwaukee experience.
KP: What other creative endeavors are you involved in? How do you spend your free time?
AW: I’m actually an associate designer at a digital studio in Milwaukee called Northern Ground. We’re a small team of designers, developers and get-shit-doners that make a lot of websites and apps. I feel really honored to be a part of the team, who I learn so much from since my background isn’t as much in design and development. But it’s been a great experience; they’re such a great group of creatives and people, and I’m thankful for their support in my film endeavors with Betty—who they also know and love!
When I’m not working at NG or SDC—man, I feel so cool using acronyms!—I love being able to enjoy my time at my home in Bay View with my soon-to-be wife Cait and my dog Fuzz and two cats. Waking up early, planning trips to the Northwest, sitting down with a good glass of beer or whiskey on a fall night around a fire I built with friends – these are the things I love.
BA: I work as a freelance editor for a few places in town, which keeps me busy pretty much all of the time. I also travel with a car racing series to edit and produce packages and highlight reels. Racing is not something I would have ever thought I’d be involved in, haha, but it is pretty cool to get a look into another world like that.
An organization that I love spending my free time with is Girls Rock Milwaukee. I volunteer as a band coach and shoot/edit their showcase videos at the end of every camp. It is a real highlight of every summer to be at camp watching 8-16 year old girls rock out and write songs.
In between all that and being in a fantasy football league, I spend the rest of my time devouring TV shows, cooking dinner for my wife, and walking my dogs.
KP: Anything else?
Kelly Peloza is the fucking bomb-digity. [Ed. note: Didn’t make them say that either!]
You can keep up with Seadog Creative on Instagram and Twitter. They are my go-to referral for video work, so hire them for your upcoming projects! And if you’re in need of all-out brand development, photo, and video, word on the street is that Seadog Creative and Kelly Peloza Photo are up for collaborative work!
Until next week,