So you've decided to make it official and now you're looking for someone to capture your wedding day. After looking through countless websites, wasting hours on YouTube, and watching your friends wedding films you're asking yourself, "all of these videos look the same, is a wedding video even worth it?"
You have a suspicion that there might be something different out there, something unique, something authentic, but you don't know how to find it and you've got so many other items on your planning to-do list you're thinking about scrapping the video all together. But there is something in the back of your mind gnawing at you. Deep down you know that you'll regret not having a wedding film, but with so much to do you're simply stuck.
Imagine if you could hire someone to shoot your wedding film through your eyes instead of their own. Someone who can zero in on the most emotionally important moments of the day and almost read your mind without lengthy vendor meetings or complex shot lists. What if they could leverage a process that has been used hundreds of times to get to the essence of what matters most to you and create a truly unique and authentic account of your day without the stress and without any specific direction?
That would be awesome right? Well it turns out there is such a process and hundreds of couples have already stumbled onto the secret that got them a truly authentic wedding film without the hassle and stress.
When I started shooting weddings for my first video mentor 20 years ago things were quite different, simpler you might say. There was essentially one videography style that everyone shot and it was what I cut my teeth on for nearly 14 years. At every wedding I would see tears, smiles, and embraces but I always felt like a hired hand paid to observe and document a super intimate moment and nothing more.
Consequently, every vow, every toast, every cake cutting became one giant collective memory in my mind where the couples expressions, tears, and names melded into a single faceless archetype.
It became increasingly strange to me. The filmmaker inside of me was screaming out, as if I was some sort of shop-a-holic that was condemned to endless window shopping because I could never find my way into the store. Indentured to always observe true human intimacy through a viewfinder but never grasp the breadth of it.
So at every wedding I looked for ways to understand better. To somehow get 'the why' behind the tears, or the nod, or the embrace. It was more than just the wedding, there were years of emotional decisions, heartaches, and victories that motivated everything playing out before my lens. I knew I was missing out and my work was suffering for it.
In 2006 I had the opportunity to shoot two weddings for family friends. We were never super close, but I was close enough to know a lot of the heartache and joys the families had endured.
When I shot their weddings I saw something different. I suddenly knew what to anticipate. When the toasts happened I knew to setup to get the right reaction shot because of a recent illness of the bride's sibling. I understood the years of courtship and the 'why' behind the groom's cake.
It was like I was inside of the store - not just window shopping for the first time! I could hear the music, feel the texture of the clothes, experience the smell of the store. But most importantly by being on the inside I understood why!
And that's when the quest began. How can I have this intuition with every couple without making crazy long shot lists and spending hours in lengthy vendor meetings?
While doing yard work in 2008 I began thinking about what motivates me in filmmaking. The technology fascinated me, and making beautiful images was rewarding, but it always came down to the power of the story, and not just any story, but the story of the everyman.
The movies, the documentaries, the books that inspire me are those of the average joe who is put in an extraordinary circumstance and someone triumphs because he had the solution within him all along.
Bam! That was it! Our couples... Their stories... Their circumstances... They were the everyman! They're in the extraordinary circumstance of navigating human relationship. They should tell their story!
So, while my quest for a different wedding video began as a selfish pursuit in the beginning, it opened my eyes to the beautiful stories that were laying just beneath the surface of every wedding.
With this discovery in hand we began building a format that would allow us to understand and share with viewers the deeper motivations behind the vows, the kiss, the tears. And that's when our insight process was born.
Since then we've created hundreds of amazing stories that have engaged and entertained perfect strangers, but more importantly have allowed our couples to remember the day the way they want to remember it - through their eyes, not just through our lens.
And here is where I'll rant for a moment about one of my biggest beefs in the wedding videography industry. There are tons of 'weekend warriors' who see wedding films as a way to 'pay the bills' until their 'real filmmaking break' happens. While not every cinematographer feels this way, they make up a large part of the industry. They're just more concerned with their gear and making a 'cinematic' demo reel. So much so that they've missed the simple but profound truth - every couple has an engaging story to tell. This isn't just wedding videography, these are powerful stories of love and commitment the very essence of what it means to be human. In other words it's compelling and deeply emotional filmmaking at its best.
Discontent with the way their wedding day went down Michael and Shayzon decided that they would re-do their wedding in a future vow renewal. One of the things they decided to do differently was to hire a wedding videographer the second time around. Watch first hand as this bride describes what it's like to be on both sides of that decision.
So the video is important, but more than just the video itself you need to find the right stylistic approach to match your style, and this is where it can get tricky.
There is a lot of confusion in the industry about the different styles of wedding videography and what distinguishes each from the other. I've covered this in other things I've written, so for now I'll just address those who identify themselves as non-traditional videographers.
Many videographers work hard to tell couples that they are non-traditional in their approach to wedding videography. They have the latest gear and a 'cutting edge style' that separates them from the rest of the crowd. But in reality when it comes to telling your story they, just like all of us, are confined to work with the material they have.
If the only content they have to craft the story are the events, vows, and toasts (ironically the toasts and vows are two of the most traditional elements of a wedding) how can they be expected to tell a much more nuanced story or do so from a non-traditional viewpoint? It's not their fault, they simply don't have the material to work with. Consequently they are locked into telling the story from their viewpoint because they simply have no other choice.
To illustrate what I mean take a look at this short clip from Craig and Brittany's wedding. We first cut together the segment in a more cinematic style. If we didn't understand 'the why' behind the story how would it look?
After that you'll see the segment as it appears in their story which is shot and edited in the insightful wedding film style. While non-traditional in it's telling, it's rich with authenticity and allows the viewer to see the event through the bride's eyes.
See what I mean, the insight style is much more powerful.
Without the insight process a videographer simply wouldn't fully understand the depth of relationship between the bride and her father, nor the significance of how she views the groom similarly to her father. This wasn't said in the toasts, and it wasn't in the vows. How would we have known why it matters without understanding the couples story?
We even were able to work in a little artistic flair by cross cutting between the groom (framed on the left) and her dad (framed on the right), visually playing off the idea of the mirror image that she talks about during the interview.
Additionally, we were able to tie together the reading about love to the events as they were unfolding. The act of Brittany's father giving her away to a man who promises to love her, is the perfect manifestation of what the reading is describing (selfless love). This is the difference between telling a story through the lens of theme instead of simply documenting an event.
While those thematic elements may slip under the radar for most viewers, it doesn't slip past the subconscious, which is why it feels so much richer, makes a strong connection, and most importantly conveys the authenticity of that moment Brittany felt when her dad was giving her away. Even a complete stranger can now experience that moment through Brittany's eyes.
Before The Wedding: The Insight Process
The Wedding Day: How We Shoot
After The Wedding: Editing & Release Schedule
Sharing The Story: Encouraging others with your strengths(The last phase is completely optional, but most of our couples eagerly participate.)
© 2016 Three Ring Media, Inc.