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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

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Just the Camera?

When is there Too Much Equipment?

In my last blog- ‘To Drone or not to Drone’ I was discussing the pros and cons of adding gadgets like drones when filming a wedding. Basically that blog stated that in my experience the more equipment we bring along to film a wedding the more of a challenge it can be operate as a creative film maker during the day. Surely, you might ask, “do not drones, sliders, jibs and cranes all add those cool looking shots to a wedding film?” They can but… here’s the problem.

Carry Less

A wedding unlike a Hollywood movie does not afford the wedding film maker the luxury of time unlike a Hollywood film. Essentially a Wedding Videographer is a documentary film maker- in other words you capture what is rather than create it. So the more equipment you have to carry the less ready you will be to capture that unique time sensitive moment.

Ability to Capture All the Important Moments

Moments like the father of the bride seeing his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time or perhaps something as simple as a look between the bride and her mother- a truly unique and special moment in time never to be repeated. I honestly think how honoured I am to have a part in capturing that hence I am always very cautious in adding equipment to my arsenal that could potentially slow me down or worse cause me to miss a truly special moment.

Learning from the Best

Yes they are exactly that- MOMENTS- they may last seconds but in my mind it’s the job of the wedding film maker to be on the look out for those moments. One person that has influenced my thinking on this subject is the award winning film maker Philip White. Having had the pleasure of attending his ‘Beating Hearts Wedding Film Masterclass’ workshop I understood what he meant when he advised the class to simply, “strip back to the camera..” By striping back to just the camera and the videographer you become more creative and pay more attention the things that truly make a wedding film more cinematic, more than any one piece of equipment can, namely lighting a composition.

Lighting & Composition

Lighting and composition when done correctly really do make a wedding film film like, it’s almost like the camera becomes like your third eye- something that’s part of you. It’s hard to acquire that level of connectedness with your camera when you are busy hoisting around a slider, drone and even tripods.

Here is an example of a Wedding Film I shot in the North West of England with just 2 lenses a 35mm and an 85mm

 

 

 

 

 

Another very sought after wedding film maker that I admire is Alejandro Calore, his films are very real and are shot with just a camera – I think he uses the Canon 60d. His channel on vimeo is called ‘real & short’ you can check him out here: https://vimeo.com/realnshort

 

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Wedding Videographer explains Filming style

Once I had decided to Film Weddings as a career change I then spent a considerable amount of time looking at what others were offering in terms of Wedding Videos, particularly companies near and around me in Lancashire and the Greater Manchester area. One thing I noticed straight away is that the overall quality of Wedding Videos has gone up considerably in the past 20 years. I think back to when I got married back in 1991 and we paid some guy to film our wedding and I seem to remember it cost us about £250.00 back then, which was a lot of money. The video that we got was about one and half hours long and to be honest quite boring! I don’t blame the chap because that’s what a wedding video was back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

What you got was this epic long VHS film that had awful audio and awful white balance- I think our faces had a green hue on them. The videographer set up his tripod and rolled the film and it just kept rolling – that was ALL the ceremony ALL the reception with very little editing. Whereas today, Wedding Videographers are little filmmakers- that’s partly due to the advent of Youtube in the past 20 years, why do I say that? Because Youtube has sold us on an idea that- anyone can be a filmmaker anyone can be a content creator!  Add to that, the digital revolution that has given us cameras with a small form factor that we now can get broadcast quality video images out of a camera that is DSLR sized!

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These I believe have led to a revolution in filmmaking on a budget. Yet now we have Wedding Films that are like Hollywood movies (not all of them 😉 Wedding Videography still hasn’t managed to shed is 1980’s/1990’s persona. Wedding Videographer’s are thought of as 1980’s inspired camcorder welding VHS delivery by friends of the family that shoot your wedding and as a result of that having a Wedding Film made, is still relatively low down on the Brides lists of wants- usually just above the chocolate fountain.

Choosing the style for Julian Voigt Wedding Films wasn’t difficult. I decided from the beginning that my Wedding Films would have the following elements;

  1. Be Cinematic -Film Like 24 FPS etc
  2. Capture Emotions- this to me is what a good wedding film maker should be looking to document- yes the bridal details, the dress, the decorations, the venue, the cake, what the mother of the Bride is wearing are all important elements but they will go out of fashion and I want the couples who’s wedding I film to be able to look back on their wedding film in 20 years and re-live those precious moments through watching a wedding film that captures how they actually felt on there wedding day-  that will never go out of fashion!

How do you capture those emotions?  By remaining stealth like and  unencumbered by unnecessary camera equipment.  The more discreet the videographer can be the, more likely he is to capture those candid moments and it’s those candid moments that make a good Wedding Film.