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How to tell the couple’s story in the Wedding Film

Why a Story?

In my last post I talked about the importance of having a story driven element in a Wedding Film. I will talk some more about that in this post but essentially talk about how Julian Voigt Wedding Films creates that story element in the wedding video. We have all no doubt sat through boring wedding videos that follow a predictable formula- they look like a wedding video!

How the Wedding Video industry has changed in the past ten years! Good wedding videos have become like a film or documentary with a high production value. This has been achieved in part by the advent of affordable high end video production equipment that is now affordable, when I say “affordable” yes we are still talking thousands of pounds but not ten’s of thousands of pounds as would have been the case ten years ago. So making a cinematic wedding video is a lot more do-able these days. So the buzz word in the wedding videographer community is ‘cinematic’ we all aspire to creating ‘cinematic’ films.

Cinematic…

I looked up the word ‘cinematic’ for a definition on what it actually means and here’s is what I found thanks to Merriam-Webster Dictionary; “….filmed and presented as a motion picture, cinematic fantasies, a cinematic adaptation of a Novel…”

So according to that definition, “cinematic” means “film like” and can include the “adaptation of a Novel…”  OK, filming a wedding isn’t an adaptation of a Novel but… we are trying to tell a story just like a Novel!  So how can that be achieved?

 

Narrative…

A typical wedding video is usually around 20-30 minutes long hence for the videographer there isn’t a great deal of room for developing a story and it is a wedding video after all! Hence we are talking about a ‘story element’ to the film. I have found in my limited experience that a narrative is one of the best ways to get that story element into the wedding film. So what’s a narrative?  Essentially someone telling a story!  It could be the groom talking about how they first met, fell in love, how he proposed!

If you can buy out a little time preferably before the wedding day, but hey it can be done on the wedding day too, grab the groom and set up the camera with him talking about all or some of the above. This then becomes your narrative– the story or sub plot to the wedding film. You can add his narrative audio to other images of events happening during the day, like when the couple are getting portraits done or are grabbing a few precious moments together after the ceremony.  By mixing these images with that audio you instantly have a story!

This takes the wedding video and turns into into a wedding film. Think this way; you want to give people a reason to watch your wedding video! The story is the reason the hook that keep them watching! Yes the couple will watch their wedding video no matter what because it’s their wedding video, but if we think in terms of the wider audience- friends- family people looking at your work on your website and deciding whether to book you or not as their videographer it makes sense to add that ‘story element’ in there.

Even without Audio…

OK, what if the couple don’t want an interview in their film? We can look for other opportunities to build narrative- maybe we can grab an element of one of the speeches as there is usually some story being told by someone during the speeches. Even without narrative audio a selection of well chosen images in themselves can tell a story- we can all think of those movies that started with a scene of the camera looking a photo’s set in a home somewhere and you knew that the people in those photos were going to feature in the film and be part of the story.

Once we train our minds to look for the story then we’ll find it and we will then create truly ‘cinematic wedding films.’

Read my latest blog

wedding videos

Why a Wedding Film should tell a Story…

Paul & Chantal’s Story…

Paul & Chantal contacted me late November to see if I was available on New Years Eve to Film their wedding at The Villa in Wrea Green Lancashire.  They had come to me via a recommendation from Heather Rigbye a great Photographer that I had had the privilege of working with on a wedding a few months earlier. As I had no weddings booked for the 31st of December I said yes. Where possible I always like to meet with the couple who’s weddings I film before the wedding day to get to know a little something about them and their story-  I say ‘story’ because that is essentially what I am looking to create in the wedding film an element of story- how they met, fell in love and the proposal.

This is something I always look to build into my wedding films. The first ever wedding film that I shot in Manchester for Kris & Jenna had that story element in it very soon into the wedding film you see kris talking about how he met Jenna on a night out in Manchester at The Venue. Many wedding videographers do not include the story element in their films and this was something that I as a relatively new wedding videographer on my first wedding shoot in Manchester wanted to incorporate right from the beginning.

 

Get to know the couple…

I met up with Paul, Chantal and Paul’s Mum & Dad at the Villa a few weeks before their wedding and very quickly it became apparent that Paul & Chantal’s story was a particularly lovely one. Paul and Chantal took their time getting to know each other as friends first over many months and from that close friendship love blossomed. Listening to both Paul & Chantal talk about each other reminded me that a strong marriage is built on more than just physical attraction alone that there also has to be a deep bond of love respect and admiration for each other and that was certainly evident with Paul & Chantal.

I really do feel it’s a very privileged job that I have not just documenting their Big Day but helping tell their story. This I feel is my USP a story driven element to the wedding film. I achieve this firstly by getting to know the couple by listening to their story, I then get to know who in their lives are an important part of that story because they will need to feature in the wedding film too. For example, June, Chantal’s grand mother was very close to Chantal being almost like a mother figure to her and so it was important that there was an element of that very special relationship in the Wedding Film.

Talking with Paul it became apparent just how much his Mum and Dad meant to him and just how much he admired his dad who he referred to as a “a legend” in his speech. If those elements are missing from the wedding film then I think the film looses it’s heart and becomes just another wedding video. When I started my business Julian Voigt Wedding Films I wanted to create wedding films that were a little bit different than the typical wedding film that focuses more on the details and less on the couple in my mind the couple are the wedding film. 

Getting to Know You.

Yes it does take more time to get to know the couple who’s wedding film you are going to create and yes in some circumstances it’s not always possible to meet in person, yet I believe that chatting to the couple on the phone or via a Skype call is at least one way that the videographer can get to know some of those yes personal details that help make a great story. To view the highlight trailer film of Paul & Chantal’s wedding click here: https://youtu.be/bukJzm1H7pk

To see more examples of my wedding films with a story driven element visit: http://www.julianvoigtweddingfilms.co.uk

 

Manchester Wedding Videography

Julian Voigt Wedding Films covers Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and beyond. If you live in or around Manchester and are getting married soon then the absolute best way to document your day and remember it forever is with video.

Read: Why get Married in Manchester

 

 

manchester wedding venue

Why get married in Manchester?

The Manchester of my childhood…

Manchester of the mid- 19th century wanted to show the world that is was more than just a skyline of chimneys referencing it’s industrial heart but also show that is it also very much a City of Arts & Culture. For me growing up in south

Manchester in the 1970 & 80’s was a truly culturally diverse experience. Just a mile from my home was the famous ‘Curry Mile’ home to some of the best South Asian cuisine outside of India & Pakistan. Platt fields park just opposite St.Ives road where I grew up

holds many a fond memory of summer festivals and reggae bands pulsating till the early evening. Ham sandwhiches with piccalilli washed down with ginger beer while listening to Bob Marley covers in the park take me back to a happy time where days lasted forever and we seemed to get scorching hot summers-  yes even in Manchester! Manchester very much has a musical pedigree from Oasis to Take That, The Hollies and even the Bee Gees all had their start amongst the red brick streets and grey skies of Manchester. Two of the best Football Clubs in the World hail from this damp City-  Manchester United and Manchester City-  being on the blue side of Manchester I remember many a wet Saturday afternoon in the Kippax stand with my mate Alan clutching a free bottle of Milk that we were handed as we moved through the turnstiles. In those days Man City were mostly in the shadow of their rich and glorious neighbours – the ‘Red Devils’- how the tides have turned!

It’s Media Pedigree...

Manchester has always had a rich Television history- who has not heard of Coronation Street? Now that the BBC have moved from London to Manchester and we have the new Media City no doubt it’s media prowess will grow. I find as a Wedding Videographer Filming in Manchester there is no shortage of imagery and icons with which to give a nod to the home of the couple who’s wedding I film in and around this City of Culture. In fact, setting up a camera and tripod in the City centre of Manchester is hardly greeted with a sideways look by most passers by as cameras are everywhere in this great City as are bands singing there hearts out.

Oh yes and the food…

Apart from the Bands, TV and some famous Art Galleries Manchester can rightly be called a City of culture for its many and diverse cultures, which leads me to one of my favourite things about Manchester that I love – the food!  Yes you can get it all here! West Indian- to Pakistani- Vietnamese to Chinese, Ethiopian to Kosher deli’s and restaurants, I have always thought of Manchester as a mini New York- you just can’t help take a bite.

Getting Married in Manchester?

When ever I get the opportunity to film a wedding here I know that finding great ‘B’ roll to establish the film as a ‘Manchester Wedding’ will not be difficult, in fact, I have to be careful not to make the wedding film all-out Manchester and of course more about the Bride & Groom. Looking for a Manchester Wedding Videographer? Look no further than Julian Voigt Wedding Films

Manchester Wedding Videography

Here’s a Wedding Video that we produced for a lovely couple last summer- Kris & Jenna at the iconic Victoria Warehouse. This wedding video captures that raw suburban industrial vibe:

If you are looking for a wedding venue that’s a little bit different then check out Victoria Warehouse:  www.victoriawarehouse.com

Read; 3 things every bride must know planning wedding

My preferred Style of Filming

 

 

wedding film at knowsley mannor

 

Movement 

Wedding Videography has improved considerably in the past 10 years and it needed to goodness when I look at my Wedding Video -which is not very often! – I cringe. The reason? Apart from the fact I look about 15 years old, it’s just how cheesy and predictable the wedding video is. That was 1991 ok what did I expect! But fast forward to early 2001-2005 and still, Wedding Films were very formulaic and predictable. Fast forward some more to 2010 and we see an evolution has taken place, Wedding Films have improved considerably! (not all of them ;). The Buzz word among Wedding Videographers is; ‘High Production Value’ – what is that I hear you ask? Well, many Wedding Film makers mistakenly think that the more Hollywood Film like their wedding video is the more interesting it will be to watch. They think by employing the use of hi-tech gadgetry like Gimbals- Drones- Sliders and Cranes that their wedding film will look like a ‘real movie’ but the question I think we as videographers should be asking ourselves is; ‘what type of movie do I want my films to look like? More importantly, what type of movie do the couples I am seeking to attract want their wedding film to look like?

While I see a huge improvement in the quality of wedding videos I can’t help notice a trend that can make many wedding videos look all alike. The trend I see is the over use of Gimbals, sliders and Drones. When used selectively and sparingly, yes they can add an element of movement and change of pace to a wedding film. However, when one shot follows the next with a slider movement or gimbal shot or repetitive shots of Birdseye like drone footage -it can take the viewer away away from what’s happening in the frame and more importantly the people in the frame- the couple. The result? We then inadvertantly draw attention to ourselves.

 

Static Shots

On the other hand static shots force the videographer to fill the frame a bit more creatively and cause the viewer to focus more on what is happening in the frame rather than the camera man that’s filming the scene. I think many videographers fall into the trap of trying to impress fellow videographers more than the couple, who let’s face it are the stars in their own film. Static shots also make the videographer think a little harder about the ‘story’ element in the film. Rather than relying on Blockbuster Movie techniques and movements the videographer has to think about what is happening in the frame. The question I often ask myself is; does this particular shot help me tell a story?  When I say ‘story’ I don’t just mean the overall story of the wedding day but I am also talking about  the ‘story’ within a story! For example the interaction between a Bride and her mother during Bride prep- it might be just a look, a touch or a tear. A few well chosen shots creatively edited together can tell the ‘story’ within a story. This is one reason that in my style of filming and editing I limit movement and keep the majority of my shots static I want my viewer to be full drawn into the frame. Wes Anderson is a master of this technique because the thing that characterises is his Films is his use of framing. An excellent example of this is his 2007 short film ‘Hotel Chevalier’- the opening scene of the Hotel reception which looks to me to have been shot on a 35mm lens is a perfect example of his use of static shots where the viewer can’t help but be drawn into the film. The result? You become intrigued by the character in the film rather than the film- does this make sense? I want my couples to be the characters in their own films that the viewer is drawn to- so it all about the couple and not the videographer.

 

My influences

Ok, I admit I am unlikely to become the next Wes Anderson, but I’d rather be taking my inspiration from someone like him than just other Wedding Films. I think by studying Directors like Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and other Film Makers that produce character focused films, we are far more like to produce something that is both creative and artistic. There are just a few Wedding Film makers that I do take inspiration from who in my opinion are not running with the herd and doing something a little bit differently, they are; Phillip White, Daniel Armitage and Alejandro Calore. Go check out their Films.

 

Final thoughts…

The more gear you take to a Wedding the more weighed down you will be and the net result will be that while you are faffing trying to get your Gimbal balanced or your Drone to take off you will have missed some golden moments never to be repeated but hey you can console yourself with the thought that your Wedding Film will have some cool Drone or Gimbal shots!  🙁

 

Here is a recent Film that is more about the couple and less about gadgets: https://vimeo.com/256972780

 

Paul & Chantal’s Highlight Film from julian on Vimeo.

 

wedding video done at knowsley hall

Knowsley Hall Wedding Film by Julian Voigt

The Grandeur that is Knowsley Hall

On the 28th of December 2017, Julian Voigt Wedding Films filmed their first ever Wedding at Knowsley Hall in Prescott in Merseyside. It was a cold but bright and crisp winter’s day – perfect for a winter wedding! When we first arrived at Knowsley Hall we were immediately struck by just how grand a place it was. You feel like you have stepped back in time and at any minute Mr. Darcy might just come walking through the door. After our induction- a 15-minute talk and form to fill in we became very much aware that this wasn’t just a fancy wedding venue but in actual fact a museum.

The priceless works of art and furnishings are treasured to the extent that the staff keep the huge thick curtains closed most of the time to protect them from the effects of the sun. Talking about the staff we found them not only very professional but delightful and very cooperative. After receiving our induction and brief we set out to create the wedding film with a sense of trepidation. Knowsley Hall is so impressive from the outside and the beautifully manicured gardens are the perfect setting for this jewel.

Capturing  the Beauty of the Bride and the location

When creating a wedding film for a couple I always try to not only get a sense of them in the film and make it truly unique- to them but also get a sense of the location that they have chosen to celebrate their wedding. I knew that this wedding film had to be special and have a sense of grandeur to it and hence one of the first choices I had to make was the style of music to license for this film. I decided that the music had to compliment the surroundings hence I choose music with a classical feel.

On the day of filming, it would have been an absolute crime to not capture the grandeur that is Knowsley Hall. There is a delicate balance to be struck here in that you do not want to make the wedding film more about the beauty of the location and not about the beauty of the bride and groom! Hence it takes some time in the editing process to carefully balance the footage and frames to achieve the above.

The portfolio piece…

When I decided to launch Julian Voigt Wedding Films in Manchester I had already decided that I would cover more than Manchester alone, that in reality, I wanted to film weddings all over the country- eventually and shoot weddings in amazing locations that would truly make a beautiful wedding film. Every Wedding Film Maker want’s that beautiful portfolio piece to add on his website and show off to the world. The minute I arrived at Knowsley Hall I knew that this was going to be one of those portfolio pieces! I will talk more about this wedding film in my next blog post because one post about Knowsley Hall would not do it justice but in the meantime, if you want to have a peep at the trailer version of the wedding film we shot at Knowsley hall in Prescott then you can check that out here.

Please bare in mind we create a 30-minute feature film and a 4-minute trailer from the feature film, this the trailer:

 

Knowsley Hall Wedding of Laura & Chris Marlow from Julian Voigt on Vimeo.

music for wedding video

Music just as important as visuals in the Wedding Film

Choosing the right Song

Choosing the right music can make all the difference to the finished wedding film- in fact i would go so far as to say the music is just as important as the visuals! Why do I say that? Well music in my mind is like the foundation on which we build our structure- the wedding film.

No E.T

Think to some of the best movies you have seen and then mentally remove the soundtrack that was used. Now think, how much would that movie move you? Think Star Wars and John Williams, or think ET also composed by John Williams- would we have shed a tear without that music?

Songs Effect Emotions

Now I know that a wedding film isn’t a blockbuster movie like Star Wars or ET but the principle is the same and the objective too- that is to move our audience, to help them connect with their emotions and that is even more important when it comes to filming weddings- because as my strapline says ‘it’s all about the emotions…’ Hence before i get into the serious work of editing my wedding films one of the first things i do after dragging a few clips from the video footage into my timeline is to find the right music for the film.

Is the Music as Important as the Visuals?

Now while i certainly think that the music truly is as important as the visuals I don’t think it is more important, hence the music I use is always just in the background and never dominating the wedding film. I rarely also use music with vocals because again I want the music the enhance the visuals not overshadow them. Having said that I did choose a track with vocals for Rob & Bobbies wedding because the song I chose summed up their style.

The Right Song for the Couple

When looking for the right sound tracks- there are usually about three or four tracks lasting around 4 minutes each used in the 30 minute long film. I can honestly spend a couple of hours listening to various tracks and comparing them not only with the footage I have shot but also the couple and their individual style. For example the music I use in a wedding film that features a couple in their 30’s with a more traditional wedding will be very different from the music I choose for a younger couple say in their 20’s who’s wedding has a completely different feel- say they dispense with a lot of the traditional elements of a wedding and have a unique feel to them I will always choose music that fits the couple. I am not saying that I ask the couple for their preferences as I believe this should be the job of the Wedding Film maker and he should retain creative control- however I do take the tastes of the individual couple into consideration and the overall feel and style of the wedding they have chose.

Conclusion

We at Julian Voigt Wedding Films always without exception choose only Royalty paid and legally licensed music sound tracks to our films that way my couples can rest assured that if they choose to share their wedding highlight film with friends and family on the internet they won’t have to worry that it will be taken down because the films breaches some copyright laws. To see a couple of example of where the music was different for two different couples have a look a Simon & Adele’s Wedding film which was more traditional here: https://youtu.be/-Y0X7yGjGfE and Rob & Bobbies wedding film which was a bit more quirky here:

Julian Voigt Wedding Films Beeston Manor

Beeston Manor the Location

Samantha & Paul’s Wedding at Beeston Manor in Hoghton near Preston was a particularly nice wedding to shoot. Paul & Samantha asked Julian Voigt Wedding Films to shoot their wedding and we made sure we arrived nice and early to shoot Bride prep. While the photographer was busy taking photo’s I headed outside to the grounds to get some establishing shots. It immediately struck me what a lovely location Beeston Manor is set in. Surrounded by fields and gentle slopping hills it has that ‘away from it all’ feel about it.

Early Autumn Day

The quietness around Beeston Manor is immediately refreshing. It was a lovely early Autumn day and the trees were just starting to change from green to that lovely autumn gold. I always try to get a real feel for the day, time of year and surroundings where the wedding is taking place and capture that in the Wedding Film because there is usually a very good reason the Bride & Groom decided to choose that particular location and also that particular time of year to get married.

Award Winning Wedding Venue

Beeston Manor I believe is family owned and they have won awards as a Wedding Venue 2017 & 2018. I think one reason this is a popular wedding venue is it’s ‘get away from it all feel.’ Set in such quiet and picturesque surroundings it an ideal place for the Bride & Groom to get immersed in their wedding. I found the staff very helpful as a videographer. Sometimes I find when it come to  Wedding Videography in Manchester you just have to get on with filming the wedding and picking up on when and where everything is taking place and often certain venues are so pre-occupied with Wedding (understandably) that if you ask a question or need some help in can be a challenge getting an answer- that wasn’t the case at Beeston Manor, I found their staff very friendly and helpful.

Typical British Weather

It looked like a very well organised operation- which when you are getting married is exactly what you want!  On the day we filmed Samantha & Paul’s Wedding the weather took a turn for the worse by mid afternoon and the photographer and myself were a little anxious about getting group shots etc. We in fact managed to dodge the showers and get what we needed but what really helped was being able to use the room the ceremony had taken place in as a make shift studio. The end result, well you can check that out here:

For anyone wishing to check out Beeston Manor as a Wedding venue you can check their website out here: www.beestonmanor.com/

Wedding Videography

Ofcourse if you are looking for Wedding Videography at Beeston Manor then look no further than Julian Voigt Wedding Films. Please be assured that we approach every wedding we do as a truly unique project and even though we may film a wedding at the same location more than once, no two wedding films will ever be the same.  Julian Voigt Wedding Films strive to create a truly unique wedding film with the essence of the couple running all the way through it, because as our motto say’s ‘It’s all about the emotions’ we focus on the unique experience of that couple and their loved ones. For more info about Julian Voigt Wedding Films visit: http://julianvoigtweddingfilms.co.uk