Wedding Videography has improved considerably in the past 10 years and it needed to goodness when I look at my Wedding Video -which is not very often! – I cringe. The reason? Apart from the fact I look about 15 years old, it’s just how cheesy and predictable the wedding video is. That was 1991 ok what did I expect! But fast forward to early 2001-2005 and still, Wedding Films were very formulaic and predictable. Fast forward some more to 2010 and we see an evolution has taken place, Wedding Films have improved considerably! (not all of them ;). The Buzz word among Wedding Videographers is; ‘High Production Value’ – what is that I hear you ask? Well, many Wedding Film makers mistakenly think that the more Hollywood Film like their wedding video is the more interesting it will be to watch. They think by employing the use of hi-tech gadgetry like Gimbals- Drones- Sliders and Cranes that their wedding film will look like a ‘real movie’ but the question I think we as videographers should be asking ourselves is; ‘what type of movie do I want my films to look like? More importantly, what type of movie do the couples I am seeking to attract want their wedding film to look like?
While I see a huge improvement in the quality of wedding videos I can’t help notice a trend that can make many wedding videos look all alike. The trend I see is the over use of Gimbals, sliders and Drones. When used selectively and sparingly, yes they can add an element of movement and change of pace to a wedding film. However, when one shot follows the next with a slider movement or gimbal shot or repetitive shots of Birdseye like drone footage -it can take the viewer away away from what’s happening in the frame and more importantly the people in the frame- the couple. The result? We then inadvertantly draw attention to ourselves.
On the other hand static shots force the videographer to fill the frame a bit more creatively and cause the viewer to focus more on what is happening in the frame rather than the camera man that’s filming the scene. I think many videographers fall into the trap of trying to impress fellow videographers more than the couple, who let’s face it are the stars in their own film. Static shots also make the videographer think a little harder about the ‘story’ element in the film. Rather than relying on Blockbuster Movie techniques and movements the videographer has to think about what is happening in the frame. The question I often ask myself is; does this particular shot help me tell a story? When I say ‘story’ I don’t just mean the overall story of the wedding day but I am also talking about the ‘story’ within a story! For example the interaction between a Bride and her mother during Bride prep- it might be just a look, a touch or a tear. A few well chosen shots creatively edited together can tell the ‘story’ within a story. This is one reason that in my style of filming and editing I limit movement and keep the majority of my shots static I want my viewer to be full drawn into the frame. Wes Anderson is a master of this technique because the thing that characterises is his Films is his use of framing. An excellent example of this is his 2007 short film ‘Hotel Chevalier’- the opening scene of the Hotel reception which looks to me to have been shot on a 35mm lens is a perfect example of his use of static shots where the viewer can’t help but be drawn into the film. The result? You become intrigued by the character in the film rather than the film- does this make sense? I want my couples to be the characters in their own films that the viewer is drawn to- so it all about the couple and not the videographer.
Ok, I admit I am unlikely to become the next Wes Anderson, but I’d rather be taking my inspiration from someone like him than just other Wedding Films. I think by studying Directors like Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and other Film Makers that produce character focused films, we are far more like to produce something that is both creative and artistic. There are just a few Wedding Film makers that I do take inspiration from who in my opinion are not running with the herd and doing something a little bit differently, they are; Phillip White, Daniel Armitage and Alejandro Calore. Go check out their Films.
The more gear you take to a Wedding the more weighed down you will be and the net result will be that while you are faffing trying to get your Gimbal balanced or your Drone to take off you will have missed some golden moments never to be repeated but hey you can console yourself with the thought that your Wedding Film will have some cool Drone or Gimbal shots! :(
Here is a recent Film that is more about the couple and less about gadgets: https://vimeo.com/256972780