Why Wedding Filmmakers have to kill their darlings


Filming weddings is a strange art. Art because we’re making films. Strange because we’re not making a film for the sake of art – we’re making a film for you, the client, to tell the story of the most special day of your life.

The result is this strange conflict between art and purpose. Let me explain: sometimes, as filmmakers wanting to produce beautiful work, we may want to include shots in your film that are artfully framed, exposed perfectly, and are visually interesting. However, a well-composed shot of evening guest #44 may be less important to you, the client, than a shot of your great aunt that we deem to be ‘worse’, purely because it’s not as ‘artistic’, for want of a better word. Nevertheless, we can’t include every shot that we get in your final film, and so we must sometimes make a decision.

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‘Killing your darlings’ is a term used mainly by writers to refer to deleting parts of a story that the writer loves but which, objectively, don’t really advance the story. This can be anything from a particular scene, to a certain character trait. The same applies to  filmmaking and, in particular (I would argue), to wedding filmmaking. 

Sometimes, as creators, we may think a film we have made is perfect. However, we’re looking at it from a cinematography point of view. Maybe the story progresses well, the pace is nice, the visuals interesting and pleasing. But what does that matter to you when you get your film back and it’s missing a shot of your first dance? Maybe the filmmaker left out shots of your first dance because the lighting of the dance floor was purple and so you looked like an alien on the video. Maybe he instead opted to include a staged shot of you twirling around each other outside at sunset. The problem is, that moment where you danced together in front of your friends and family for the first time as husband and wife may well have been the highlight of the day for you, and so you may quite rightly want it included in your film. Maybe looking like an alien doesn’t matter to you. Equally, you may hate the staged shot for its inauthenticity. 

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This is what I mean by killing your darlings. Ideally, we would have been able to manage the dance floor lighting and neutralise your skin tones. But that’s not always possible, so sometimes it’s necessary to kill our darlings and, in this example, remove the shot from outside in order to include the shot that will be more important to you, regardless of how we feel it impacts the film from a creative perspective. As filmmakers hired by you to capture your day, sometimes we have to bite the bullet and make our art ‘worse’, in our opinion, in order to make you, the client, happier. 

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Ultimately, this is all about balance. If we killed all of our darlings, then the film might be rubbish. There is, of course, a spectrum here. While both aesthetics and purpose are not and should not be exclusive, sometimes, inevitably, there is conflict. Different filmmakers deal with this in different ways. Some filmmakers may lean more towards favouring the aesthetic shots, and some may lean more towards favouring the shot that satisfy the film’s purpose. This is what determines their style. Your preference, as a client, of one videographer over another may be a result of where their work lies on this spectrum. You may want a more artistic film with more considered, visually pleasing shots, or you may want a more run-and-gun, true-to-the-wedding kind of film. The only way of determining your preference is by watching the work of different videographers and getting a feel for the different styles and what feels right for you. Once you know what you like, you’ll be much better placed to pick your ideal wedding videographer who’ll produce a film you love. Either way, make sure you liaise with the videographer. Communicate what is important to you prior to the wedding. And If something happened on the day that you particularly want (or don’t want) including in your film, let them know! When all is said and done, and you watch back your film, ask yourself how many darlings the videographer killed for those shots of Uncle Bob’s breakdancing that you said were essential.

To see for yourself what kind of approach we take to wedding films, please have a look at our Films.