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“Our Lives Our Births”: The Midwives of New Jersey Reality Series // Episode 1

We here at James Lee Films love shooting weddings, but they aren’t the only thing we do. In fact, the reason why we love weddings is because fundamentally we love telling stories that inspire others. That is why we jump onto projects like this one – here is a story that many people are still unaware of but if told, can truly inspire change in the way people see birth.

Julie and I gave birth to our first child through the Midwives of New Jersey last October, and the entire experience has been very educational and empowering. During Julie’s pregnancy I was so inspired by their story and philosophy that I told them what I do and that I’d be more than happy to shoot a short commercial for them. For awhile I heard nothing, and I didn’t think much of it.

Then a few weeks after Amy’s birth, Lisa emailed me and told me that she was interested in my services, and asked if I am able to make a reality show for them. No, I’ve never done that before, but I wasn’t one to turn down a good challenge. I sat down with Lisa and she poured out her vision for this reality series. I took it all in and began to break it down into episodes. My experience scheduling shoots and creating Columbia’s KSA making a Korean Drama series back in 2011 really came in handy here.

And this is what we came up with:

Here is what the Midwives wrote on their blog post:
“Midwifery continues to be an unknown profession. The word midwife still conjures up mental images of hippies or old grannies arriving at someone’s home to deliver their baby with a lot of boiling water and screaming in the mix. I am regularly asked the difference between doulas and midwives, and my answer is always“a weekend course versus a Master’s degree”. It is troubling to think that our image remains unchanged after so many years.

The Midwives of New Jersey are on a mission to raise the awareness of midwifery care all across the United States. We want to give a glimpse into a day in the life of a modern midwife in practice. Our Lives, Our Births-The Midwives of New Jersey is the pilot episode in a series of videos we have contracted to produce for the general public.

We want the show to be an entertaining and informative way to educate women about midwifery and childbirth and hopefully help all midwives gain more credibility in the eyes of the general public.”

(Read more here.)

More episodes are to come, so stay tuned! The fastest way to see them would be to subscribe to the Midwives Youtube Channel.
For more information on the Midwives of New Jersey, go to: midwivesofnj.com.

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Nikki & Dan: “Korea to San Diego”


Nikki & Dan
1.2.15
Wedding Film Teaser Trailer
El Prado, Balboa Park in San Diego, CA
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Daniel Dai and Mike Huang

James Lee Films officially started off 2015 with our first destination wedding! While San Diego is still within the mainland U.S. and not considered ‘destination’ for some, it was certainly so for everyone involved from guests to vendors and even the bride and groom. Nikki is the sister of my beloved friend JR Pena, and it was an honor to be able to do this wedding. The first time I saw Nikki was in the form of a portrait done by JR leaning against the living room wall in JR’s home. JR always talked highly of his sister, but I never got the chance to meet her because she was always traveling. For awhile, she was in Korea teaching English – and it was there that Nikki and Dan met.

Specifically, Nikki and Dan met five years ago working an Academy in Anyang. Dan had been working there for awhile when Nikki came. Nikki was looking for a couch, and she asked Dan because apparently he knew where to get good used couches. Nikki is really good at chess, but Dan told her that she could beat her one day. Three months later, Dan said’ Hey, let’s have a chess match; I beat the computer.” They bet the loser had to cook dinner for the winner. Dan won – but Nikki convinced their friend Tracie to tell Dan that she’s a bad cook, and he ended up cooking anyways. The dinner was amazing, and slowly their love grew from there.

Dan grew up in Washington near Seattle and Nikki grew up in New Jersey. After transitioning from Korea to the U.S., they finally settled in Orange County and decided to hold their wedding in San Diego. It was a beautiful wedding not only because of the weather (in the 70s the whole time we were there) or the setting, but because people traveled from all over the world to attend this wedding. Nikki and Dan said their vows before close friends and family on January 2, 2015 at St. Francis Chapel in the Museum of Man in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA and held their reception at The Prado, all within Balboa Park. They held a photo scavenger hunt between the ceremony and reception for people to run around the park and take fun photos. Overall this couple was just lots of fun.

Quick shout-out to Paulo Salud Photography, who is always awesome to work with, and his second shooter for the wedding Justin Element. I highly recommend both photogs. Also big thanks to Undercover Live for providing us with properly mixed audio and running a party like none other we’ve seen. Also none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Danielle Evans from Bridal and Event Lounge who planned and coordinated the event. She is a highly-organized planner and was a pleasure to work with throughout the day. Overall, we had an amazing team of vendors for this wedding.

Now, for those of you who’ve known me in the past, I’ve always loved working alongside Mike Huang and was sad to see him go when he left for Wisconsin. But because we had to fly to SD anyways, I thought of it as an opportunity and called him up to see if he was available. Sure enough, he was. Our James Lee Films Crew for this wedding was therefore awesome. with Daniel Dai and Mike Huang, JLF crushed this wedding. Honestly I had a hard time editing this trailer because there were just so many good shots (which is why the trailer edit is a bit longer than usual – still so much was not included). You’ll just have to wait till the feature film is out to enjoy this wedding film to its fullest glory. Stay tuned. 🙂

Congratulations again, Nikki and Dan!

Corinne & Dan: “You Should Marry Her”




Corinne & Dan
10.18.14
Wedding Film Teaser Trailer
The Stateroom, Long Beach Island NJ
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Dan Dai (m3crew.com) and Ben Suh

We were introduced to Corinne and Dan through our good friend Danielle at D’Luxe Events, and almost immediately I knew they were a couple we wanted to work with. Corinne is a Zumba Fitness Instructor and Dan is a media director at Lincoln Tech, and they met through Match. When I heard what Dan did for a living, I was humbled that a fellow video-cat appreciated our work and chose us to capture their wedding. Julie and I got to visit their beach house in LBI for our Love Story Film shoot, and we just had an awesome time hanging out with them and going out for a boat ride. Dan and I were able to connect over video equipment and cinematography, which was super cool.

(If you missed it, here is their Love Story Film!)

Corinne and Dan promised that their “home would always be filled with very loud music” in front close friends and family on October 18, 2014 at The Stateroom in Long Beach Island, NJ. The venue was very accommodating and a great place for an intimate wedding near the shore. The weather was perfect all day long, and we were able to capture some awesome footage on the boat and along the beach. It helped that Corinne and Dan loved each other like crazy and couldn’t stop smiling. The whole day was filled with laughter and fun, but also had its fair share of joyful tears.

Quick shout-out to Sherry Sutton Photography, who was an absolute joy to work with. Best of luck with your future in Texas, and I hope our paths cross again. Our James Lee Films Crew this wedding was with the veteran Daniel Dai, and trainee Benjamin Suh on his first official wedding. This is also James Lee Films’ last wedding of the year! Here’s to finishing up all the feature edits and giving our couples the opportunity to relive their days again. 🙂

Congratulations again, Corinne and Dan!

Anika & Zack: “One Tree, Not Two”


Anika & Zack
10.8-10.14
Wedding Film Teaser Trailer
“One Tree, Not Two”
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Dan Ho and Dan Dai (m3crew.com)

Anika and Zack was our first multi-day couple, and we’re so happy it was them. They were a very fun-loving couple and exuded love for one another all three days we were together. Both are free-spirited, artistic, and musically-talented – throughout the days Anika and Zack surprised their guests with musical performances and surprise appearances from a saxophonist playing “Careless Whisper” at random moments.

I was especially blessed to have been able to capture alongside Ajit Singh (http://www.asinghphotography.com/), who was a tremendous help and simply a cool guy to work with. Working three days together, by the last day we were cracking jokes. Overall he is amazing storyteller and an expert in his craft. I had the privilege of working with Daniel Dai and Daniel Ho as my assistant cinematographers throughout the three days. Always a pleasure working with these dudes.

After an evening spent celebrating at home and a Sikh Ceremony at the GSS Gurudwara in Bridgewater, NJ on the second day, Anika and Zack made their beautifully-written vows to one another before family and friends at the Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren, NJ. The theme of the wedding was “family tree;” both described themselves as deeply-rooted in their families and saw the wedding as a combining of two families and cultures. This sentiment was beautifully captured in the reading from Louis de Bernières’ “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” which we included in the last portion of the trailer. By the end of the night, the two families were no longer two, but one.

I always like to get to know my couples before the wedding day so we’re not total strangers on the day-of, but it isn’t easy to get to know everyone else such as the parents of the bride and groom or the bridal party. In previous weddings, I had a hard time remembering the best man’s name or felt uncomfortable conversing with the parents. The thing is, not only were Anika and Zack’s family and friends all super laid-back, but because this was a multi-day wedding, by the third day Anika’s dad Jas and I were on a first-name basis. During his speech late on the final evening, he was originally standing in a spot that was terrible lighting – three or four feet away from a really good spot. Any other wedding I would’ve just shot it as is, but because I felt comfortable with Jas, I was able to ask him quickly: “Hey Jas, do you mind just taking two steps to the right?” and he happily obliged. Overall, the importance of relationships with the people you shoot before you shoot them is crucial. Because we had three days to get to know them, what resulted was an awesome multi-day wedding with lots of amazing shots and an amazing film to come.

Congratulations again, Anika and Zack!

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