Video Stories & Branding Stories | Peter Guzzo

Today’s guest is Peter Guzzo.


He's Executive Producer and Director at KestumBilt -- an award winning video, film, and digital content production company.


Pete and the team at KestumBilt have decades of experience expressing brand stories for retailers. With the confidence that comes from long experience together, they're ready to help share on-brand stories with the right audiences.


And speaking of audiences, if you're trying to reach Spanish speaking markets, check out for information on Spanish markets and language, as well as English language productions.


I had a ton of fun preparing for this quick conversation with Pete. He joined me from a set, between projects on a shoot. So this is a short but power-packed episode. What ideas does this conversation give you about video production for your brand?


You can find Pete and the team at There you’ll find stories about their client work, and examples that are just stunning.


The work isn’t just beautiful. It’s effective as well. They create productions that really move the needle for businesses.


You can always find more at, including training, blog posts, and all of the podcast episodes (go to the website for full podcast transcripts) as they're released. Make sure to opt-in for emails when you're at the site so you get the exclusive content as it's released.


For additional help with your ecommerce business, here is a book I wrote called, "Retailer's Email Playbook: The 67-Point Master Plan You Can Start Using Right Now to Add 30% or More to Your Bottom Line". Available now in paperback and Kindle versions here:


Let me help you with your ecommerce business. Get free ad techniques… discussions on what’s working now… starting and scaling… and more.

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Full transcript of the episode:


The movie is never as good as the book.

So sometimes you need to kind of start

over but without changing the campaign and the

new branding that they've set up.

Welcome to the Traffic Handler podcast.

We're about getting new customers,

making more sales, and growing.

For ecommerce retail business.

I'm your host Amy Biddle.

Today's guest is Peter Guzzo.

He's executive producer and director at

KestumBilt, an award winning video,

film and digital content production company.

He and the team at KestumBilt have decades

of experience expressing brand stories for retailers with

the confidence that comes from long experience.

Together, they're ready to help share on

brand stories with the right audiences.

And speaking of audiences, if you're trying

to reach Spanish speaking markets, check out

KestumBilt for information on Spanish as

well as English language productions.

I had a ton of fun preparing

for this quick conversation with Pete.

He joined me from a set between projects on a shoot.

So this is a short, power packed episode.

What ideas does this conversation give you

about video production for your brand? Enjoy.

So first of all, congratulations on

the Chyron Award at NAB.

Super cool.

Yeah, especially because I grew up learning Chyron

and satellite trucks as a production assistant and

then an intern and eventually a low totem

pole employee at the county and city station.

So I was like, wow, this went 360, that's great.

That's exciting, though, to be able to see

the whole progression of the software, just using

it from one end to the other.

And now you're repping them and great.

It was great to go to NAB and

see that they won the award for best new

product and we help them advertise it.

So that was far that's the best.

So one of the things that we do on

the podcast is present good information to help retailers.

Anybody who's a retailer, anybody offline online,

they need to have online presence.

So what are some of the high level

tips that we can dig into to talk

about how somebody starts to work with you?

Like, how do you lead an ecommerce client

when you start to work with them?

I mean, initially we are going to

work with a retailer, ecommerce retailer.

However, they sell the products in whatever fashion.

We want to know exactly what they're trying

to achieve, how they've achieved it in the

past, what the sore points are.

We think the product is great, but we never really

had the greatest video content to help display it.

We've never had the best strategy,

maybe when it came to copywriting.

So a lot of those little things and of

course, any market research they can share with us.

Most of the time the marketing department is going to

have all that and they can give us marketing brief.

And so typically, once we get the marketing brief, if

they want us to help work on the creative.

And that's really how we kind of go to launch.

So it's a series of different meetings of us learning

about their product, their brand, and who their audience is

or who they want their audience to be. Right.

And those sometimes are two

different things, aren't they? Yeah.

Apple tells people what's great, other

people say, get feedback and they

modify their products, meet customers demand.

So it depends on the company

and what they're trying to achieve.

Yes, that makes a ton of sense.

And since most of us are not Apple, we really

have to look at the market and get the feedback

to be able to make decisions about what to say.

I know stories, storyboarding.

Those are all really important functions of how

you get started working with a client.

Can you talk about that process and how

you draw out some of the storyboard ideas?

Typically we'll start off with like, we discussed

their marketing brief and then a script.

Once we have a script, either they supply

it or we work together with them.

Then we can take that script and

we start to mold it into storyboards.

And the reason we do storyboards versus mood

boards right away is we don't want to

worry so much about what the exact background

is or what color shirt they're wearing.

Let's first come up with step one or step two.

Actually, step one is the script.

Step two is creating a storyboard so we get an

idea of the action and the flow of the commercial.

Once we have the storyboards, that's when we'll sit back

with the client one more time, we'll go back to

the script, we'll readjust the storyboards if we need.

And at that time, I'll also start working with

my director and creative director, start creating mood boards

on how the product should look, the lighting.

And we do that by using inspirational images

and videos that we get online or from.

Our previous project that we've worked on.

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I know in copywriting a lot of times with copywriting

projects that I've done in the past, we've talked about

first you get the big idea, like what's the story?

What's the big idea behind the story?

So that then you can go out and tell the story.

Does that usually come from the client?

Because I know I work with a lot of

people that they don't have that sense first.

It varies from time to time.

I think marketing departments now in companies from medium

to large companies are really a lot more savvy

when it comes to video content and storytelling.

They really are.

So a lot of the direct to clients we work

with, not only do they have marketing departments are

a lot more video savvy script writing.

They understand how to take copy from the

website and transform into a script with us.

They understand how to take photography and

graphics they use for magazine layout and

how it's going to translate to video.

And if they don't, we help them

through that process and we educate them.

And also right now, a lot of

companies we work with are starting to

hire internal creative directors, internal advertising employees

with experience from other ad agencies.

So over the last five years, it

has become a lot more diverse.

The different companies we work with, however, we have

our own creative directors and writers, and we're more

than happy to help them shape their story into

what it should be for a video.

Because not everything you write, we all know

this from books go into movies, it never

really works the way you want.

The movie is never as good book.

So sometimes you need to kind of start

over but without changing the campaign and the

new branding that they've set up.

So it can be a lot difficult, as we discussed

before, getting clients to understand who may not have a

lot of knowledge about video, that just because you have

CYKM colors on your printed doesn't mean it's going to

translate to RGB in a three dimensional world when lighting

and shadows and everything else come into play. Yeah.

And there's a lot of translation stuff.

It's lighting, colors and just

everything that goes... psychology. Right.

So we just were right now we're in pre

production and we do the same process and me

and my director custom built director may we have

our storyboards and we have the script and we

did scratch tracks for the voiceover for timing purposes.

And we laid everything out in our editing software

and created an animatic this morning.

Like the script doesn't work the way it

is because the shots towards the end start

getting long and the voiceover is even longer.

And in the beginning of the commercial, the

shots are faster and it has a more

catchy script to it, a more catchy cadence.

So we have to go ahead, adapt that and explain

to the client this is why we're doing it.

And it goes two ways to accept it, or they help

us come up with a different solution for the script in

order to make that work, especially in a 30 second constraint.

That's really tough when broadcasting OTT constrain you to 30 seconds

or even 15, which is more common now, right. Exactly.

And that was one of the questions that I

was going to ask you about is video trends.

Everything is getting shorter.

We're not talking about 30 minute infomercials.

We're talking about 6 seconds.

15 seconds.

30 seconds is long, now.


For one of our clients, we do this for all of them.

But I think we've discussed before, but for one

of our clients, Medi Weight Loss, we do the

photography we do the 6 second Instagram, we do the

30 second commercials, the 15 second commercials, and the extended

commercials, all within a three day production.

And we have different areas around our studio where we

go, where could we use real patients for them, where

the real patients first go do their photography, and then

they move on to the Instagram where they're talking directly

at a camera about their experience, and then we move

them on to the actual bigger production.

And at the same time, we have to keep

in mind that this stuff that we're shooting for,

even the commercials that are 15 and 30 sometimes

are going to have to go vertical.

So now back in the day when we're doing 16 x 9,

we always said we had to make sure a 4:3 save.

Now we have to make sure we're 1:1 aspect ratio

saved, and a 9 x 16 saved, all at the same time.

So it makes it challenging.

But at this point, we've done it so much that

now it just becomes, okay, we know we're going to

have to do this even though the client doesn't know

they're going to do it yet or social team hasn't

explained to them how they want to use the video.

We already take that into consideration

because we're waiting for that email

five days after we're done shooting. Oh, my God.

We didn't know we did a 1:1 aspect ratio.

And you got all the formats, all the aspect ratios.

Okay, good.

We covered it.

Yeah, good.

I was working with a client last year, and we had

a bunch of video content that was 16:9, I guess.

And they wanted to do TikTok.

Well, yeah, not with that format.

This is all about storytelling.

Storytelling, however huge chunk of it, is a business,

and it still has to be executed properly and

function on whatever media buy they have, whatever platform

it's going to be playing on.

We tell our students because we have a

student program called Jolt that we run.

Almost anybody with any creative abilities can

create a most beautiful 30 second commercial.

If you have no limited time and no client and you can

do it on your own dime and you just do it over

two, three, four months, it's a lot different story when you have

a lot of clients and ad agency marketing departments.

You have 50 people on set and you have

a twelve hour day, but you have to execute

properly or everything could just easily fall apart.

Everything from we need to ask questions.

Hey, the retail store we're shooting

at, is it branded correctly?

This happens a lot.

You have a lot of stores that a company

owns, whether they're franchises or corporate owned retail stores.

And a lot of times they're not

up to date on their branding.

And it's just because operations are doing their best

to get everybody to update all the stores.

It takes time.

So sometimes we have to go in and

also work with them to update the brand

in specific stores and get that done.

So as soon as we find out we're shooting at a

retail location, brick and mortar, first thing we ask is, "Where's

the one that has the closest to your newest branding?"

Because we're going to have to

do something to clean it up. Right.

So mostly it's a detailed business that you're in

and you have to do it with cameras.

It seems that way. Yeah.

There's a lot of details and we all have from

our production managers to coordinators, we have our to do

list, and we whip out our to do list as

soon as we get the green light for the job

and we start considering the pluses and minus everything we're about

to pitch to the client.

And we're ready to answer any questions that they may

have of why we're going to do this approved. Right.

I get it.

So I know that KestumBilt has been

25 years in business? So all of us

have been working together for 25 years.

But KestumBilt started in 2013. So we've grown

the business to where we are now.

Back then, when we first started, people

didn't understand that not everybody had to

work in the same building together. Yeah.

It was still like a little what do you mean?

That doesn't make any sense.

That model doesn't work. What do you mean?

Everybody works wherever they want to work.

I'm like, that's what we do.

Why am I going to make I'm not going to fly

Kip, our director and be like, no, you got to stay

with us in Tampa for the rest of your life or

bring our production coordinator, who may just work down the street,

but she wants to work from home.

I'm like that's just the way

we operate, even our editors.

We have three edit suites here.

But a lot of times I tell our editor, you want to

work from home and edit and work from home and edit.

And then we always have an editor here

who take the footage and the project files

and everything syncs on our hard drives.

But we're not by no means do we

say everybody has to work at the office.

And now, of course, today everybody's doing it right.

So the world finally caught up to you.

Yeah, us and probably a lot more other companies.

We weren't the first ones to do it, but

we caught on very quickly that we can provide

a lot better service if we had people work

remotely from wherever they felt the most comfortable.

And the main reason is because when we discussed

last time, last week with you or earlier this

week is that we build a team per project.

That doesn't mean we go and get

outside people that we don't work with.

And that are part of possibility.

Just because we have five editors or three editors

and they say they want this specific editor and

this director, we'll give them our opinion.

Like, I really think for this job, this is who you

want, and this is how we're going to pair together.

They trust us.

That's where we go about every single project,

no pun intended, but we custom built it.

Yeah, it's a perfect name. It's great.

I mean, I know you guys

are award winning, multiple awards.

I mean, not just the one

that we started off talking about.

So I know that we're a little bit limited on time.

We've only got a couple of minutes

left, so I will have contact information

for KestumBilt in the show notes.

What do you want retail brands to

know about you working with KestumBilt?

How do they decide to reach

out and get started with you?

All of us, as directors have years or

decades of experience working with retail brands.

That's where almost all of our backgrounds came from.

And so all of us have worked with multiple clients.

Everything from back in the day when we used

to work with Dell transitions to now we work

with a lot of different clients, like Power Pole,

we're working with CSL Plasma, which is even though

they don't sell a product, they still have storefront.

All of our director photographers know

exactly how product lighting should be.

We know exactly the backdrops for any retail brand

and the way the products should be showcased.

And we understand how to execute and tell

a story that's focused on that product.

So that's one of our core strengths.

In a very small nutshell, we have a lot more when

a client calls us that we can explain on how to

achieve their goals and get the most out of their production.


Just if you look at Kip's mind chances, Ricardo's, Jason's,

all of our reals you'll find a lot of retail

content on it, and that comes from years of experience.

This is great.

I want to let you go on time.

Pete, thank you so much for your time today.

I'll have information in the show notes.

Just the whole using video for retail.

It just makes a ton of sense to me

because of all of the connection you can make.

It's so emotional.

It's bigger than words and pictures really is. Yeah.


So sometimes you even have retail commercials and

the products just featured there a little bit

because like you said, it's more about how

families and people feel about the product than

it is sometimes actually about the product.

That's a great way to close.

Thanks so much. Thank you so much.

You've been listening to

the Traffic Handler Podcast.

We're about getting new customers, making more

sales, and growing your ecommerce retail business.

I'm your host, Amy Biddle.

Get more at

And until next time, go sell more stuff.


Podcast music by Dan Lebowitz.

Post production by Melinda Fries.

Production Assistant Laurie Carnes.