Videographer Lee Cote streams an osteopathic manipulation medicine invitation to prospective students of the University of New England on Thursday. BENJAMIN D. LEVESQUE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Who is the man behind the camera? Standing ahead of our politicians, our actors and actresses, and our most prominent celebrities, a cast of photographers, producers, and set workers collaborate to produce the final image. Sometimes, the subject is a royal wedding, or a reality television show, or the evening news. In the case of Lee Cote, a career audio and visual videographer, his introduction to technical video began with a mentor.

As a junior at Biddeford High School, Cote was introduced to Tracy Chaplin, a guest speaker for his theater production class.

Chaplin, director of MTV’s “The Real World” from 2000 to 2008, spoke of traveling the world throughout his career and the experience of working on set. The discussion inspired Cote, and the guidance Chaplin gave served as a model for the tradesman he was to become.

Two weeks following his graduation in 2000, Cote was invited to work as a production assistant for local productions. A year later, his work brought him to “The Real World: New York,” and he began to travel the world — from New York, to Las Vegas, to Melbourne.

Cote returned to Maine in 2005 and married his wife, Michelle. The same year, he and L. Blake Baldwin founded Video Creations, a local video production company.

Over the next decade, Cote and Baldwin were videographers for President George W. Bush and the Bush family.

Their work extended into projects such as drunk driving public service announcements, film recovery and restoration, as well as providing a teleprompter for events (being one of the only businesses to possess one).

He recalled having coached a heart surgeon in a past production. “What your doing on that screen is much less nerve-racking than [public speaking],” Cote said.

Moments like these followed after Tracy Chaplin’s example. In 2013, he left Video Creations to pursue other paths.

“Video Creations misses Lee everyday in one way or another,” Baldwin said. “Lee helped build our brand that is based on the mission statement ‘Your story is our business.'”

During the next several years, Cote continued to consider his career. He worked in the associate registrar program at Thornton Academy, and produced videos as a byproduct of his experience. He assisted Southern Maine Health Care in fundraising, advertisement, and volunteerism. For a time, he served as the production manager of CBC Advertising in Saco.

In August 2016, he became an audio visual event videographer for the University of New England in Biddeford.

Lee Cote

Current Work

Now, Cote tells the story of UNE in different ways. One day, he prepared a biomedical research seminar to be streamed globally. Another, he was chasing after sharks and working with students on specialty projects. Throughout his work with the university, his history with “The Real World” and Video Creations contributed to has helped him become an adept videographer; his drive, his charisma, and his desire to tell stories persists.

His work complements his admiration for the craft, something Cote developed from an early age. Feature productions such as “Singing in the Rain” and technical maneuvers like Alfred Hitchcock’s characteristic “dolly zoom” (featured in the 1958 film, “Vertigo”), continue to fascinate him.

As a career videographer, he revels in finding new techniques. “I love to share any ‘trade secrets’ and help others to raise their skills,” said Cote. His developmental process is a combination of his previous experiences, along with each discovery he makes in the field.

From left are, Sarae Sager, Cameron Buebar and Lee Cote. Buebar demonstrates an osteopathic remedy for back pain caused by poor posture and stress tension, a common case amongst high school and college students. BENJAMIN D. LEVESQUE/Journal Tribune

Though the road has changed as Cote views it, and the world has come to expect a slightly different product than it had in the 2000s.

Early technology, apart from its monstrous weight and size, has transformed into a fraction of the material with exponentially greater storage space. And as advertising has entrenched itself in television, commercials must become shorter and more distinguished.

“The attention span has changed,” said Cote.

But the constant of videography, at least for Cote, is the process of storytelling.

“We could count on him to interact with our clients in a way that they, too, felt the happiness he brought to work every day,” said Baldwin of Video Creations.

The infectious spirit he possessed then, and exemplifies now, is a result of his dedication to the narrative, bringing out the greatest story in his subjects.

“The one thing I think will always be around is storytelling,” said Cote. “[It] will never go out of business.”

Apart from his work with UNE, Cote covers some local productions, such as a recent children’s Christmas carol performance by St. James School students at St. Joseph Church in Biddeford.

In January, Cote operated the camera while UNE’s osteopathic manipulation medicine (OMM) fellowship streamed to prospective students around the world. Sarae Sager and Cameron Buebar, members of the University’s OMM fellowship, explained their profession and demonstrated several basic techniques within the practice.

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