My Wedding Film Philosophy

President Obama doing his best wedding filmmaker impression.

I didn’t always dream of becoming a wedding filmmaker.

In fact, I had a pretty bad assumption of wedding videos earlier in my life. They were cheesy, corny, shaky, boring… and no one will watch it in full except the bride and maybe the groom – and twice at best in their lifetime. Basically, pointless and an overpriced commodity. And because of the accessibility of such powerful filming tools as DSLR cameras, it seems like any teenager with a semi-rich parent can start a wedding video business – although they often go with wedding photography, as it is assumed to be much easier than video (true professionals will beg to differ, and I too am not endorsing this idea). This accessibility led to many unqualified wedding videographers making it into the market who produce poor quality wedding videos that further this bad stereotype I’ve had about wedding videos for most of my life.
But when I fell utterly in love with genuine, quality wedding films through Orange Wedding Films and the world of wedding filmmakers I discovered from there, I soon decided to build myself as a wedding filmmaker and to do so by quietly absorbing all the information I could get from the gurus and experts in the field. From it all, I developed a sort of personal philosophy of how to enter into the wedding film business, and I plan to share with you a glimpse of this philosophy…

    1. First and foremost, it is vital to note that wedding filmmaking is a genre in filmmaking unique to any other style. A TV/broadcast camera operator or a Hollywood cinematographer wouldn’t necessarily be a talented wedding filmmaker – in fact, chances are they’d squirm at the very idea of Same-Day Edits in the kind of environment and time-restrictions wedding filmmakers are expected to work under. Where a Hollywood production would have many individuals specializing in audio, cinematography, editing, etc. (do you remember the last time you watched a movie and sat through the credits? Yeah…), wedding filmmakers are often all of these a once. Shooting a wedding, I could easily find myself monitoring audio while pulling focus on a camera, and a few hours later editing the same footage and audio I was capturing earlier. Wedding filmmakers need to become a sort of jack-of-all-trades of video production, which is probably why the best of wedding filmmakers such as stillmotion often find themselves finding corporate works as well!
    2. Find the story, capture it, and share it. Sounds simple, but even professionals admit to finding and sticking to the set of shots that sell wedding films without having to tell a real story. But one thing I noticed personally is that the popular “set of shots” will always change, but a real story is timeless. A couple years back, wedding videos were expected to have glowy images and the oh-so-dreadful slo-motion shots. These are now perceived as dull, boring, and outdated. However, I am sure the day will come when the glidecam shot and the slider shot will be dull, boring, and outdated, and a whole new “set of shots” will be the trend and your glidecam and slider will become obsolete. BUT give me a wedding video from the 90’s that captures a genuine and compelling narrative, and I will watch it from beginning to end. And since the product would be expected to be viewed by the couple for years to come, isn’t “timeless” a characteristic you should be striving for in your wedding film? Twenty years later, they won’t care how “cool” their wedding film looks like, but they will care when they can relive that day through their wedding film. Tell the story – it’s timeless.
    3. The couple always comes first. After all, it is their day. This is not some sort of sucking-up byproduct of the recession or anything – because despite many pessimist comments, the market is always strong enough for those with the right skill set. Rather, reminding oneself that the couple comes first would prevent the wedding filmmaker to fall into a sort of creative ignorance. Of course, oftentimes couples have no idea what they want in their wedding films (and sometimes have quite unrealistic expectations), I get it. But if this were a Hollywood production, you’d be the director and the couple both the actors and the producers. In a Hollywood production, a director could not make a successful film without at leastmaking an effort to communicate with the actors/producers. Likewise, it is not then the role of the wedding filmmaker to make whatever he/she desires, but it is his/her role to educate the couple and to collaborate in the creative process. Clients will notice it and appreciate it when you’re careful not to tread on their wedding day. This also goes into making sure your rig isn’t overpowering, as a large rig could take the focus away from the couple on their own wedding day. Because of this, I feel, leaving the smallest footprint possible on a client’s wedding is crucial.

      If this is what you plan on bringing to to a wedding, you should consider a different profession...
      If this is what you plan on bringing to a wedding….umm, yeeah. (Rodriguez’s DSLR rig,

    4. This connects with #3: Always be humble and strict on yourself. Compare your work to the best examples you can find and make sure you measure up. If you don’t, seriously look into how to improve. Stay up-to-date in the latest equipment and technology, and objectively assess its potential necessity. Solicit feedback from your clients – and take suggestions and complaints seriously! Besides, regardless of how fancy your pamphlets or websites are, or how many followers you have on Twitter, the best promotional tool you have is the standard of your work. If you make good wedding films, people will seek you out.


So how do you enter into the Wedding Film Business?


– James