Wedding Cinema: Insights for Couples Considering Film
by Colleen Bianco Bezich of Be Films
I'm so excited to be guest-blogging for Tami! Since I know many couples ask Tami and others for wedding videography recommendations, I thought it would be worthwhile to share with you what goes into a wedding film, and how wedding films have evolved over the past 10-15 years.
Let’s start by being honest. Many engaged couples (and wedding vendors) will chuckle when they read the phrases "wedding cinema” or "wedding film." Why? Probably because of the antiquated notion of wedding videos that unfortunately for professionals like me, is still very much alive…
It goes something like this: the wedding video was a task you assigned to your uncle or a family friend, because (a) people associated little to no real value with it; (b) it simply involved positioning a handheld camcorder in the back of the ceremony site, and then later, invading people’s space (and privacy) by bombarding guests with table side questions about knowledge of or advice for the couple; and (c) it was never viewed as artistic, but instead valued simply for the ability to “playback” the important events of the big day.
Welcome to 2015, a year when I hope this antiquated notion finally disappears (or at least dissipates somewhat)!
While I don’t ever take offense to being referred to as a “videographer,” I do like to educate our couples & their parents, as well as other wedding professionals, about our craft, which is filmmaking. My goal in doing this is twofold: (1) to improve relationships across the wedding industry; and (2) to enable couples to connect with a wedding cinema studio they love and embrace the creative process from start to finish.
So what goes into the production of a wedding film, and why do costs mirror that of photographers now? Here’s a quick and dirty synopsis of our workflow and creative process:
The Planning, aka: Preproduction
This is where your cinematographer gets personal. We ask about your love story and your wedding plans. We want rough details and timelines so that we can best approach your day and begin storyboarding in advance of your actual wedding...
Are there people that make you uncomfortable? How large is the room where you’ll be getting ready and who will be in there with you? Who will be speaking at the wedding, and what kinds of stories might they share? How long will your ceremony be, and what are some of the most important moments or events of your ceremony aside from vows/ring exchange? What type of vibe are you going for at your reception? What is your color scheme? What musical artists or genres do you connect with.
In addition to filming very candid moments shared by you and your family & friends, we also need to anticipate technical issues and/or address realities and restrictions such as low lighting, limited space, wind, and/or limited camera placement per venue restrictions, etc. Why? Well in the case of wind, while it may enable your veil to flow gracefully and create a gorgeous shot for us and your photographers, it also makes for a very tricky audio capture if your ceremony is outdoors. Similarly, low lighting may seem romantic when touring your venue, but when you want to capture details and a first dance without on-camera lighting (and remember, we don’t use flash), low light is not so flattering.
Stephanie + Danny's Highlight, showcases the beauty of that wind I mentioned above and the use of inconspicuous lighting at a reception:
Downtown Club Philadelphia Wedding - Stephanie and Danny's Wedding Highlight Film from Be Films on Vimeo.
We take great pride in our professionalism and ability to get the job done regardless of these restrictions, but a heads up is always helpful - it goes a long way to prevent day-of problems, as well as to enable more creativity. If we can anticipate the above scenarios, we can work with you and your other vendors in advance of the wedding to address and improve upon them.
Hence, we also like to know who else we’ll be working with to make your wedding dreams a reality, including photographers, musicians, dj’s, hair stylists, makeup artists, venue coordinators, event planners, florists, etc. If we’ve worked with them before, we know they don’t have that antiquated notion I mentioned above, and that working with them will not only be possible, but also enjoyable and mutually beneficial. It we haven’t worked with them yet, we like to reach out to them in advance of your wedding date and explain our collaborative nature, unobtrusive style, and our goal to put you, our mutual clients, first.
The Wedding Day, aka: Production
Just like Tami, we are with you for the duration of your wedding day. Our studio typically lets photographers take the lead, as we prefer to capture the intimate, “in-between” moments as opposed to posed portraits. That being said, we will speak up when necessary. We love collaborating with photographers like Tami & Ryan as it can really increase our collective creativity (and productivity) during the course of the day.
We “shoot to edit,” meaning that we are envisioning your film as your day unfolds…each bit of audio, every scene and the many sequences involving you, your family & friends is being mentally catalogued and referenced by us as we continue filming throughout the day. Often, by the time we arrive at the reception venue, we have an idea of how we will craft your love story, and we continue build from there as we complete production.
The best compliment we can receive from your guests is actually one of surprise. Because we strive to be unobtrusive, we hope they exclaim, “We didn’t even know you had videographers!” upon seeing your wedding film weeks later.
The Honeymoon, aka: Postproduction
We, and your photographer, are likely the only vendors that continue working for you well after the wedding ends (to the tune of anywhere between 15-40 hours). There is no greater feeling for us than to get home from a fantastic wedding and immediately start discussing the edit we’ve outlined in our minds, proud of what we’ve captured and excited to share it with our couples.
This part of the process is absolutely a labor of love, from choosing (and licensing) the audio tracks we will use to score your film, to painstakingly arranging the clips in the timeline, to selecting which live audio feed offers the best quality. Finally, we work on perfecting the edit with color grading, effects and titles.
And, to demonstrate just how powerful live audio can be, check out Sarah + Ben's summer wedding (we had to address audio interference from wind and water in this film):
Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve Wedding Film - Sarah + Ben from Be Films on Vimeo.
Costs aka: Production Budget
Some couples suffer sticker shock when they see our pricing, and many times it’s because they don’t initially anticipate all that goes into preproduction, production or postproduction until we explain it to them. For this reason we discuss with them the extensive amount of time and technical skill, as well as artistic ability that is put into the film. The costs of doing business as a professional in 2015 are also relevant. Aside from camera, audio and lighting equipment costs, we invest in editing software, music licensing, professional liability insurance, and continuing education. It’s so important, regardless of which vendor you’re on the hunt for, to distinguish between wedding vendor hobbyists and wedding vendor business owners. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for." Cinematic wedding films in the Philadelphia area, shot by industry pros with DSLR or cinema cameras, typically cost between $3,500 and $6,000. Costs for luxury wedding films, destination weddings and multi-day affairs can easily exceed $10,000. There are some smaller studios (such as our second studio, Pair of Hearts: www.pairofheartsfilms.com
) and studios that do not shoot with DSLR or cinema cameras, that offer productions in the $2000 range.
Is a Wedding Film for You?
Each of our projects is designed to capture, preserve and celebrate the joyous occasion that is a wedding. No two of our films are identical because no two of our couples are the same. While they say a picture is worth a thousand words, our films are overflowing with countless detailed sequences and heartwarming scenes; and for this reason many filmmakers will say that a wedding film is invaluable. There is something immensely intimate and meaningful in pairing the visual image with the spoken vows, the sounds of laughter, sighs & whispers, and a beautiful musical score.
We are honored to give couples the ability to relive some of the most intimate and cherished moments from what is one of the happiest days of their lives. Weeks, months, and years after your wedding day, your film will remain a testament to your love, and hopefully it will make you laugh and cry (tears of joy) all over again.
If you're on the fence about wedding films, I encourage you to conduct a search just as you would for your wedding photographer - find an artist(s) that you feel a connection to, and work that resonates with you. If and when you do find the "one," I can guarantee that your wedding film will be one of the best wedding gifts you can give yourselves.
We are so excited to be guest blogging to all of Tami's wonderful fans!
We would love to take this time to give future brides some inside scoops on how to make the most of your wedding day flowers and decor - something your photographer may thank you for, because it makes their job easier and let's them focus more on you! We are always willing to try new things and work with many different trends, but over the years we've learned a few staples that will never go out of style.
Many brides with budgets tend to overlook linen rentals, and settle with the standard white or ivory that is provided by most venues. Renting a quality linen - whether it's a bold color, patterned, or neutral -makes ALL the difference in making your centerpieces really stand out and pop. Many brides want to play it safe and think that white or ivory will match anything - but think of your color scheme and the colors of your venue and see what will flow best with the rest of the design.
2. Ombre Color Schemes
Ombre has become a very popular trend lately, and for good reason. When choosing your color scheme, it's important to think of all of the "in between" shades of your colors. For example, if you love hot pink and want pink and white to be your wedding colors, try to include different shades of pink that will make the contrast a little less harsh in your flower arrangements. This is true for any combination of colors - purple and pink, blue and yellow, orange and blue, etc. This will help you avoid the polka dot look and create a more sophisticated wedding theme.
3. Floral Jewelry
This is one of our favorites. Instead of the traditional corsages for Mothers and Grandmothers, brides have been ordering floral jewelry instead. Cuffs, necklaces, even rings can be made out of succulents and flowers. The feedback? More comfortable, convenient, and custom!
Hope some of these tips can give you some new inspiration for wedding planning! Though we know anyone booking with Tami already has great style :)