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Lina & Anthony: “I Belong to You”

Lina & Anthony
Wedding Highlights
Marie Hines – “Perfect Kiss”

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Julie Selnekovic-Lee and Sam Choi

Lina and Anthony were perhaps the cutest and most interesting couple we’ve met so far. Julie and I first met them at the lobby of their apartment in LIC. Their personalities were fun, animated, and later Julie and I grabbed coffee from Sweetleaf across the street based on Lina and Anthony’s recommendation. It was the best coffee I ever had, and I knew we had a connection with this couple right away.

The couple said their personally-written vows at an outdoor ceremony at the New York Botanical Garden on July 27, 2013. It was an honor working alongside photography legend Susan Stripling, and collaborating with her was smooth as butter. It also was amazingly helpful that Lina and Anthony took our advice and decided to have an unplugged ceremony. And yes, the guests obeyed the request and kept their phones and cameras away! What resulted was a calm, peaceful, and beautiful ceremony where everyone was fully-present.

Congratulations again, Lina and Anthony!

Jaclyn & James: Teaser Trailer

Jaclyn & James
Wedding Teaser Trailer
Sara Swenson – All Things Big and Small Instrumental
Tony Anderson – Hope
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Julie Selnekovic-Lee and Hayeong Choi

Jaclyn and James said their vows at the beautiful St. Rose of Lima in East Hanover, NJ and celebrated the night away at Meadow Wood Manor in Randolph. The whole day was full of tears and laughter, and just by the way they looked at one another you knew they were deeply in love and have been waiting for this moment for a very long time.

Congratulations again, Jaclyn and James!

Unice & Glenn John: Same Day Edit

Unice & Glenn John
As screened on 10.5.13
Wedding Same Day Edit
The Ember Days “It Is Well”
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Julie Selnekovic-Lee and Hayeong Choi

Julie and I met Unice and Glenn John at our church last year, and I got excited when they asked me about wedding cinematography. What got me more excited was that they and asked Pastor John Meyers, who officiated our wedding, to officiate their wedding as well. I was astonished and encouraged to hear their story during the filming of their Love Story Film, how the struggles they had the past year strengthened their faith in God and brought them closer to one another. It was a blessing to have witnessed their vows at the beautiful Stone House at Stirling Ridge on the morning of October 5, 2013.
Glenn John really wanted a Same Day Edit for his wedding, to which I excitedly obliged. Their SDE film was screened in front of Unice, Glenn John, and their friends and family. It was a joy to see them full of emotions as they witnessed their day unfold.

Special thanks to Glenn from MPW who was a great photographer to work with and Paul Anthony for being awesome with our SDE presentation. Both were highly professional and working with them was smooth like butter.

Congratulations again, Unice and Glenn John!

Helen & Arnold: Teaser Trailer

Helen & Arnold
Wedding Teaser Trailer
Kerry Muzzey – Carlito and Gordito
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Julie Selnekovic-Lee and Hayeong Choi

Helen and Arnold made the cutest couple we’ve seen yet. The couple made their personally-written vows at the beautiful Nanina’s In the Park outdoor venue. Just the day before the weather was terrible with thunderstorms, but on the day-of the sky remained solid blue all day long. But the day was still wet with the tears of joy from Helen and Arnold. Seeing the tears when she read his card and during their first look, we were all able to see how much they loved each other.

I always like to highlight the photographer of each wedding because I understand how easy it may be for many photographers and videographers to butt-heads during a wedding day. Helen and Arnold’s photographer, Albert Cheung, was a complete joy and honor to work with.

Congratulations again, Helen and Arnold!

Lanlen & Ken: Two Films in One Night

This wedding was an amazing event for James Lee Films, not only because we got to witness Lanlen and Ken tie the knot after nine years together, but also because we premiered two films in one night.

The first was their Concept Short Film. When I met Lan and Ken for the first time they shared with me how they wanted to make a parody on A-ha’s “Take On Me” music video with a zombie twist to it. Right away I knew that this was going to be a fun couple to work with. Shooting the CSF was a great opportunity for us to get to know Lan, Ken, and their bridal party, and overall it was a really fun day in the city. Big thank you to Rahul and Sasha for letting us use your beautiful place. The piece was edited on Premiere and After Effects to complete the comic book effects; and it was screened right before Lan and Ken were introduced into the reception hall.

Lanlen & Ken
As screened on 6.8.13
Wedding Concept Short Film
An A-ha “Take On Me” Parody
Music used with permission

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographer – Hayeong Choi

The second film premiered was the Same Day Edit of the wedding day. Lan and Ken proclaimed their vows in the beautiful St. Joseph’s Church in North Plainfield, NJ and celebrated the reception at the Grand Colonial in Hampton, NJ. This is actually the first official Same Day Edit for James Lee Films, so I was both very excited and nervous at the same time. Luckily, there were long periods in the car moving between locations, and my partner-in-crime-for-life Julie offered to drive, so I was able to spend time editing in the car before finally arriving at the final venue. After shooting the couple’s first dance, I entered into full-editing mode and produced the film two hours after the reception party started, with a total editing time around three hours and thirty minutes. The stress that amounts to meet the demands to produce an SDE is great, but witnessing Lan and Ken watch as their day unfolded on the big screen certainly made up for all of it. Here is Lan and Ken’s SDE:

Lanlen & Ken
Wedding Same Day Edit
Stars Go Dim – “Now or Never”
Licensed by Songfreedom

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Julie Selnekovic-Lee and Hayeong Choi

Quick shout-outs to Ray Sison Photography for being an awesome photographer to work with, and Lifetime Entertainment for assisting in screening our films.

We will have reactions with the two videos up later this week as well. Until then, we hope you enjoy these films.
Congratulations again, Lanlen and Ken! :D

Lizzy & Paul: Love Makes Beautiful Music

Lizzy & Paul
Wedding Teaser Trailer
Allie Moss – “Let It Go” (Instrumental)
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographers – Julie Selnekovic-Lee and Hayeong Choi

Lizzy and Paul are musicians in a band together, and love makes beautiful music. This was evident in their non-stop smiling, singing, and stolen glances all day. Even the rainy weather didn’t dampen their attitude; it was wonderful to witness a couple so much in love. Lizzy and Paul were married at the beautiful Oheka Castle in Huntington, NY. Some of you may know, but Oheka is the estate that inspired Gatsby’s Estate in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Needless to say it was an absolutely beautiful venue. Quite a lineup of vendors for this wedding too with dMdC Photography, who were a joy working with; Janessa Pare with hair and makeup; A Touch of Elegance with flowers; MC Mike and DJ James from DDM Entertainment, and the Metropolitan Hot Club with reception entertainment; and Kara and Laura from My Bellissima with planning and making everything come together smoothly. We hope you enjoy this short teaser trailer to Lizzy & Paul’s wedding day.

Wedding Planner: My Bellissima
Ceremony/Reception: Oheka Castle
Photographer: dMdC Photography
Hair & Makeup Artist: Janessa Pare
Florist: A Touch of Elegance
Reception Entertainment: Metropolitan Hot Club,
and DDM Entertainment


Congratulations, Lizzy and Paul!

CU Jubilation! MORE: Spring Concert ft. Starfield (4.16.13)

CU Jubilation! Presents:
MORE: Spring Benefit Concert ft. Starfield
Highlights Film

Jordan Critz – “Until We Meet Again”
Licensed by TheMusicBed

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographer – Joshua Lee & Hayeong Choi

On April 16, 2013, Columbia University’s Christian Acapella Group “Jubilation!” held a Spring Benefit Concert entitled “MORE” featuring Canadian Christian band Starfield and sponsored by World Vision. James Lee Films was asked to cover the event, and we decided to make use of our storytelling abilities. :)

Julie and I first heard about MORE when Julie, being herself an alum of “Jubilation!”, received a letter requesting donations and prayers. We immediately decided to give and to pray for the benefit concert. But a few days later, Jube president and old acapella buddy Josephine Wei contacted me saying that she was seeking professional coverage for the concert and I jubilantly (harhar) accepted. I began to do research on the concert’s theme and purpose, and came across a cute promo they made asking people “Tell me what you need MORE of in your life!” People responded with answers such as “more sleep,” or “more coffee,” or “more Jesus,” etc. The theme “MORE” was an exciting choice, and while sharing her testimony on the day of the concert Josephine described the theme of the concert in relation to why they are holding a benefit concert for World Vision: “All we need is more of God and His love, and from there, God drives us to pursue Him more, to love Him more, and to love others more.”

Unfortunately, Julie was a bit under the weather and had to sit out for this event, but I had great help from my brother Joshua Lee and my new assistant Hayeong Choi. The three of us made an awesome team. Thanks guys for making the day a smooth one. Special thanks also to CU’s media staff for helping us get clean audio feeds. Overall the concert was a great time to enjoy awesome music both from Jube! and Starfield, and to be reminded that we can always love more – and giving to the world is one way to do that.

For more information:
Jubilation!: http://jube.org
Starfield: http://www.starfieldonline.com
World Vision: http://www.worldvision.org

And you can see our concert coverage here:

JLF Meets Starfield


5) It’s About Relationships

Two weeks ago I published a long overdue blog post on the lessons I learned in 2012. But I realized that I forgot to include one very important lesson, and I would like to take this opportunity to fill-in number 5:

Julie and me at Cy and Mavil Loreto’s Renewal of Vows. Photo by JR Pena Photography (http://www.jrpena.com).

5) It takes relationships. Nothing that James Lee Films accomplished in 2012 (and will ever accomplish) would have been possible without the people who cared and the relationships we made.

With our couples, we took it to heart from the beginning that we needed to get to know couples as people (and not ‘cattle’ – thanks stillmotion!). From there sparked friendships that allowed us to capture moments that wouldn’t have been made available to strangers! Thus came films that were not cookie-cutter videos but stories that anyone could watch and feel a personal connection with the couple and attendees in the film.

With out fellow vendors, we took it to heart early that it was crucial to get in touch with other vendors before the day to go over the details together and stay in clear communication throughout the whole day. This also led to a much higher quality film; the films we made would not have been possible without the relationships we had with fellow photographers, DJ’s, venues, presiders, planners/coordinators, etc. – JR Pena Photography, Wayne and Angela Photographers, Elite Rhythms Entertainment, and My Bellissima to name a few.

And for those of you who do video or filmmaking of any kind know that it is never a one-person job. James Lee Films would never have been possible without an awesome crew. Youmin Woo and Mike Huang helped as shooters on one or more occasions, and I can say I trust their talent to capture moments where I’m not there. My brother Josh Lee and photographer Scott Tsai assisted us as well in the details of the day. And my beautiful and awesome wife Julie; she really makes James Lee Films stand. Her roles have been – and are definitely not limited to – cinematographer (she has shot most of our weddings with me), creative consultant (no wedding film goes out without her ‘okay’), business consultant (Our finances are managed together), lead ‘packager’ (Every package to our couples is personally designed and wrapped by Julie), and quality control manager (She verifies that our branding is consistent throughout). If I’m the person with a crazy idea, she’s the one who makes it a reality. Above all else, she’s never doubted my passion and always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Thank you Julie. :)

And dear crazy (and even not-so-crazy) fans, James Lee Films would not have been possible without your love. After all, our line of work is not high-volume work, and so word-of-mouth will always be our main source of clientele. Again, it’s all about the relationships. Stay awesome guys, and we’ll continue to challenge ourselves to create innovative films.

If you’re joining the club, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Keep them coming! :)

Reflection on 2012, and Onto 2013…

When I began James Lee Films in the middle of 2012, I actually did not have an established business plan for the company; all I knew was that I had found my passion and was yearning to pursue it freely. I was naive, and excitingly so, about owning a creative business – and balancing the creativity and the business of it. I was shy (and still am a bit), but the nature of this business pulled me out of my shell and challenged me to build genuine relationships with people who otherwise would be complete strangers to me. The responsibility of owning a business also pushed me to think deeper on my responsibilities in other aspects of my life (family/home, school, church, etc.). Now, as I come close to finishing up the last edit of our 2012 couples, I look back to where I started and realize I have come a very long way. After so many lessons and joys, so many tears and much laughter, I’m excited to share with you all that we are booking many new awesome couples for 2013 and receiving inquiries for 2014 as well. Where I stand now is truly an exciting place, and before I begin running with 2013 and beyond, today I wanted to share with you the precious lessons I had learned in 2012…

1) It takes Passion – When I sat down during the reception of the first wedding I shot (Kirim and David’s), I remember feeling every muscle in my body aching and my stomach growling angrily at its human that was rejecting its signals because of hours and hours of in-taking adrenaline. I realize I could have thought at that moment: ‘This sucks.’ But instead, I remember thinking: ‘This is awesome.’ The opportunity to be at a key moment of someone’s life and being entrusted with the task of capturing that day to keep forever – and be given only one shot at it – somehow was exhilarating to me. It gave me a stress that did not break me, but made me. It was because I had a genuine and bursting passion for wedding filmmaking that I was able to push myself further and further.

2) It takes Wisdom – In a short period of time, I began to realize while I established James Lee Films as an outlet to my creativity, James Lee Films was becoming a beast that could potentially take over my life. Thus one of the most important lessons I learned this first year was that I needed to find balance in my work – and it’s a lesson I need to remind myself almost daily. At first I was asking questions such as: “What do I say when I first meet with couples?” or “How should I start my feature film?” or “What’s the most cost-effective way to do XYZ?” – but later I begin asking: “What does it mean to spend time with my wife this evening rather than update my blog?” It took wisdom to begin asking these questions and seeking balance in my life.

3) It takes Humility – One of the key statements I heard from all top wedding cinematography professionals is to always be open to learning, as the industry is constantly changing. The top this year may not be so the next if they were to become complacent and refuse change. To always seek education meant to remain humble and willing to learn. In 2012, I have had some incredible education opportunities, including stillmotion’s KNOW, which came to UniquePhoto in Fairfield, NJ. It was perhaps one of the greatest $250 I’ve spent, as my mind was blown in so many ways and I left from there to go on and make fresh films with deeper stories. I also indulged in creativeLIVE, and went on to purchase the intensive seminars on wedding filmmaking by Rob Adams. Again, worth every penny. I purpose to always remain humble and seek to learn from others, because it is only then, I believe, I can continue to make innovative and lasting films.

4) It takes Faith – Even after all of these things, there are so many intricate details that I can in no way manage or control. When equipment fails and/or is damaged on the day; when figuring out taxes gets overwhelming; when edits pile up and at first I can’t see the end… in all of this I learned to accept that I cannot control everything, and especially in those areas I can’t, I take a deep breath and let God. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but scripture reminds me to be honest and transparent with my couples, to do business law-abidingly and respectfully, and to uphold a good name. And God works in great ways in bringing me peace through the frequent storms.

I feel so blessed and humbled that every day I can wake up and create films. Thank you couples and clients of 2012 for trusting in me to capture your day, and for allowing me to witness the joy it brought in your life. I hope to share even more joy with all of you in 2013 and beyond.

Photographer: Scott Tsai. (http://www.scotttsai.com/)

Mavil & Cirilo: Renewal of Vows

Mavil & Cirilo’s Renewal of Vows
Highlights Film
Joe Moralez – “Love Will Be Enough”
Licensed by TheMusicBed
1988 Footage by Reflecta Video

Director/DP/Editor – James Lee
Cinematographer – Julie Selnekovic-Lee

When I first met with Cirilo, simply out of curiosity I asked what compelled them to celebrate their 25th Anniversary in this manner. He replied, “Being together with someone for 25 years is a milestone. We want to celebrate it with the people we love and renew the vows we made 25 years ago.” Many of you know I am a recently married man, and for awhile I’ve been imagining what our lives would be like five, ten, twenty years from now. When I heard Cirilo’s words and saw Mavil and Cirilo renew their vows at Our Lady of Peace Church in Edison, NJ before many, let’s just say I found a new role model couple. After so many years they still looked at each other with loving eyes and spoke dearly. The reception was held at Spain Inn in Piscataway, NJ. Mavil and Cirilo’s daughter Camille played “At Last” as their first dance song, and their best man and first son Carlo made a toast to “25 more years.” This wedding was shot with a crew of two, me and my wife/talented cinematographer/partner-in-crime-for-life Julie. Special thanks to photographer JR Pena for being a joy to work with as always.

What also made the editing of this film special was that Mavil and Cirilo had a wedding video from their wedding in 1988 on a old VHS. Originally the VHS was broken, but with the help of a local video specialist I was able to fix it and get it transferred digitally. When I saw the recovered video, I realized that I just dug up a treasure. Reflecta Video from Cebu, Philippines (Yes, they’re still around!) did a wonderful job capturing the day, and seeing Mavil’s father crying and hearing them share their vows from 25 years ago were stark reminders of how priceless my job as a wedding cinematographer is.

What it would be like to show your own wedding film to your children/friends/family many years from now?