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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 09.56.11

‘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. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 09.59.59

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. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 10.00.53

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.

The Myths of Being Self-Employed


“Oh you work for yourself? That must be so great! I’d love to work for myself…”

You would, huh? And why is that? Love figuring out your own taxes? Like going entire days without human contact?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job, and I haven’t looked back once since graduating from law school and deciding to forego the solicitor route to become a filmmaker, but it absolutely is not what it’s made out to be. The following statements are all things that have actually been said to me by real people….

But you get to do whatever you want! Your hobby is your career!

Yes, okay. I’ll give you that one. I am very fortunate in being able to pay my rent by doing exactly what I used to do in my spare time. That being said, I don’t actually spend my days doing what I want. It’s less doing what I want, and more doing all the things that nobody else is doing for me. For example, not only do I shoot and edit, but I also do the marketing, the accounting, the web design, the sales. I have to meet people, email people, send contracts, send invoices, post to social media, write blog posts, keep educating myself and improving my craft, and only then do I get to sit down and edit. When I started this company, I imagined my day going something like this: I’d get up, edit all day, make people cry happy tears, sleep, and repeat! What I didn’t factor in was all the hours of admin that running a business requires, all the stuff that just gets in the way of doing the thing I love. So yes, I do do what I want to do, but I also have to do a heck of a lot of stuff that I don’t.

Top view of notebook, camera, glasses and coffee. Business still life on old wooden table

 

Okay, sure, but you’re at least doing it on your terms!

Touché. I can market when I want, I can do the accounting when I want, I can edit when I want. And in-between it all, I can go to a café, or I can go for a walk, and I have nobody to answer to. I am the master of my own schedule… to a certain extent. And that extent may be greater for people in certain professions, but in this line of work, I’m much more restricted in terms of my schedule. For example, I have to work most weekends, because that’s when the majority of people get married. Additionally, I like to meet with couples beforehand, and they usually work Monday-Friday so can only meet on weekends, meaning that I have to work on those weekends too (although I use the term ‘work’ loosely: sitting down for a coffee and hearing people’s proposal stories almost never feels like work). 

Moreover, everyone else in my life is on a Monday-Friday 9-5 schedule, so it makes sense for me to be, too. For example, I get up with my girlfriend to go to the gym at 6am, and I’m usually at my desk working (re: answering emails) by 9am. Then I’ll finish at around 6pm so that I can enjoy my evenings with everyone else who finishes around then. Why would I want to work outside of those hours when that’s the only time everyone else is available?

But still, they’re right – it is all up to me – nobody is holding a gun (or the threat of redundancy) to my head, and I absolutely do value that freedom. There’s nothing like being able to go and meet a friend for a coffee in the middle of the day on a whim, and knowing that you can make up that time whenever you want.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 22.33.43

Look at all that money you’re getting, instead of making rich people richer!

Sorry? Money? What’s that?

I joke, I joke. But honestly, there are a lot of costs I didn’t factor in with becoming self-employed. There’s liability insurance, indemnity insurance, there’s the taxes (oh, you would not believe the taxes…). There are equipment costs, equipment insurance costs, editing software costs, client management software costs, music licensing costs, PayPal fees, card fees, drone license fees.

If I’m ill, or get injured, I’m not making any money. I recently saw a Facebook post by a photographer who had broken her wrist, and was therefore unable to use a camera. She had to hire people to cover her weddings for the entirety of June and July – the two most important months for any wedding vendor!

All that being said, it is fantastic knowing that every penny I earn (minus taxes), is going to me, instead of to some fat cat in a suit. 

pexels-photo-877694.jpeg

Dress down day is every day!

My flatmate recently responded to my making fun of his clothes by saying ‘you don’t even wear trousers!’.

It’s true, I spend most of my time sat editing in tracksuit bottoms or shorts, making sure I’m as comfy as I can possibly be – and that’s definitely a massive perk of working from home. Nevertheless, working from home also means a very lonely life, sitting in front of a computer day in, day out, with very little contact with other people. It’s unsociable – there are no after-work drinks, no Christmas parties, no sweepstakes or fundraisers. It’s just me and my computer, occasionally asking Google Home how the weather’s looking (P.S. you should DEFINITELY get a Google Home – it will change your life). I’m fortunate enough to have a flatmate that also works from home a couple of days a week, which keeps things fun, and having friends that are also available during the day is great for those spontaneous coffee breaks and lunches out. But ultimately, it can be alienating to go solo and work for yourself.

So to wrap up, those are my thoughts on the myths of being self-employed. If you’re thinking of quitting your job and jumping head-first into the self-employed life, I would say absolutely do it. I love it, I really do. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that it won’t feel like work. Forcing yourself to do something, even something you love, will always feel like work at some stage. Add into the equation the fact that all the stuff that goes along with being self-employed is time-consuming and stressful from the get-go, and you end up with a combination of factors that you should definitely consider before making the jump!

The Cost of Drone Cinematography


Drones. They’re everywhere today. The kid next door has one. Your dad has one. Amazon are even trying to deliver your parcels with them. But what about your wedding videographer? Does he have one?

Drones are quickly becoming the norm amongst wedding videographers – every wedding film features a drone shot. Sometimes they’re used tastefully to set the scene, sometimes they’re overused to the point of looking ridiculous (nobody needs to see your drinks reception from above – it actually just looks like a load of people holding glasses of prosecco and pointing at the sky). Either way, the chances are that drone cinematography has been a factor in deciding which studio to hire to film your wedding.

But do you know the cost of using a drone in your wedding film?

wedding videographer drone

Firstly, they’re expensive. Your average drone costs around £1000. That being said, they’re definitely worth it; the technology they pack into those little things is phenomenal for the price you pay.

Secondly, they’re dangerous. They can fly FAST, they weigh a fair bit, and their propellors are enough to take your finger off (maybe, I haven’t actually tested that one out, although I have cut myself pretty badly). Back in 2013, before drones were even that commonplace, one photographer went viral after his drone hit a groom in the head. Just a couple of years ago, a groom in America was sued by his own wedding guests after his drone spiralled out of control and hit them in the face.

wedding videographer drone

As a result of being dangerous, they’re now becoming more and more regulated, meaning that you now need what’s commonly referred to as a license to use drones for your wedding films. It’s not really a ‘license’ as such, but more permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (the same body that regulates airplanes!) to use a drone for ‘commercial operations’. In other words, if you’re making money out of using your drone, you need permission.

So how do you get Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO)?

Firstly, you need to attend ground school: a course about everything from ‘how drones work’, to safety practices and privacy concerns. The course runs at anywhere from £700-£2000 and tends to last from two-four days. It’s pretty exhausting, to be honest. The one I attended was a two day intensive course running from 8:00-18:30. At the end of it, you’re given an exam made up of both multiple choice and written questions. Once you pass this, you have to undertake a flight assessment which is, in all honesty, quite easy if you’ve ever flown a drone before.

Okay, so now you’ve spent all that money on your drone, you’ve attended ground school, and passed your exam and assessment. Hooray! You’re done… right? Wrong. Now you have to put together what’s called an ‘Operations Manual’ – basically a book about how you’re going to fly your drone, what you’re going to use it for, and the measures you’re going to take to ensure it’s done safely. And when I say ‘book’, I mean it – mine is 40 pages long. Luckily, the company you do your ground school with will likely help you with this, so it’s not too difficult!

wedding videographer dronePhoto by Taylor Made Videography – www.taylormadevideography.com

So one you’ve got your drone, been to ground school, passed your exam and assessment, and done your ops manual, you can fly your drone… right? Wrong. Now you actually need to apply for your PfCO from the Civil Aviation Authority, which costs another £173 and can take over 28 days to come through.

But once that PfCO comes through, you’re all set… right? Wrong again! You need to make sure you have the necessary insurance, and before each flight you need to conduct a risk assessment, and then you have to keep track of every flight in a flight log. Oh, and next year you’ll need to renew your PfCO, which costs another £130. And EVEN THEN, there are still rules you have to follow. For example, you can’t fly higher than 400ft, and you can’t go within 50m of people, cars or buildings that aren’t ‘under your control’ – in other words, you can’t fly close to people/buildings and cars of people who haven’t consented to it. In wedding terms, this is problematic because, believe it or not, vicars aren’t actually that keen on having what is essentially a speeding, flying destruction machine  anywhere near their steeples, let alone inside (so no, we can’t get an aerial shot of your first kiss, I’m afraid – besides, nobody wants what sounds like a billion bees buzzing through their ceremony).

To conclude, the reality is that drones are expensive, dangerous and, to be frank, a paperwork nightmare. But are they worth it? Hell yes.

So next time you’re wondering why the wedding videographer you’re looking at is charging extra to include drone cinematography, you’d better tell him that you understand completely, and that, actually, you’d like to pay him even more just for the trouble he’s had to go through! No? Oh well, it was worth a try!

5 Reasons why you should invest in a Wedding Videographer


Is a wedding videographer worth it? A few weeks ago, I saw a post by a bride-to-be in a popular wedding planning group on Facebook. Her post was all about videographers and why she thought a videographer was an essential purchase for any couple planning their big day, despite the sometimes hefty price tag. The post received hundreds of comments and likes from videographers and brides who agreed with what she was saying. But there were also quite a lot of comments from people who disagreed and thought that videographers charge way too much for the services they offer. Her post inspired me to write this blog post: here are 5 reasons why every couple should invest in a videographer to capture their day…

1) A Wedding Film is an Investment 

A lot of people think of their videographer and their photographer as necessary evils – expenses that must be paid in order to have something to look back on after their day. Personally, I don’t think this is the right perspective; try not to think of your videographer and your photographer as paying for a service, but rather as investing in preserving your memories.

After all, what price can you put on your memories?

wedding videographer worth it

2) If your videographer doesn’t value their own work, how can you trust them?

‘Videographers cost so much! Why would I pay over £1000 for a 6 minute film?!’

Thousands of pounds on cameras, thousands of pounds on lenses, hundreds of pounds on tripods and stabilisers, a thousand pounds on a drone, insurance costs, travel costs, drone license costs, 12 hours filming, lugging cameras and lenses and tripods around, making sure there’s backup equipment, making sure we don’t miss anything, getting home at 11pm/12am/1am, backing up footage until the early hours to make sure your memories are safe, 30 hours editing, a USB drive for your film, delivery costs to send it to you. Oh, and then there’s tax, too. At the end of the day, we work hard. We pour our heart and soul into making a bespoke Wedding Film that will stand the test of time and let you always relive your big day. If we didn’t value our time and our skills accordingly, then how could you possibly be sure that we’d put in the effort and time it takes to make your film perfect?

AdobeStock_71567526.jpeg

3) See the parts you missed

Weddings are an absolute blur. I realise you’ve probably never done this before, so you’re having to trust what I say, but I have it on pretty good authority: at the end of the wedding day, when I talk to the bride and groom whilst taking some night-time shots, they usually express amazement at how quickly their day has gone. Months, sometimes years, of planning has flown by in a heartbeat. Having a videographer there to capture your day will make sure you don’t miss anything; whether it’s your uncle’s shocked expression as he’s wowed by your magician, or your dad blubbering into his pocket square as you say your vows, we will endeavour to get it on film… can you really afford to miss that?

4) Your only souvenirs

At the end of the day, when the cake is gone, the favours have been taken, the DJ has gone home and your Love Letters have been packed up, all you’re left with are photos and videos. Otherwise, how will you prove to your grandkids that you weren’t always so wrinkled? If you and your partner are going through a rough patch, how else will you be reminded of how happy you make each other? How will you answer your children when they ask you what your wedding was like? Sure, you may have your dress stashed away in the loft, but you’re not really going to go and slip that on when you’re seventy years old, are you?! Isn’t that enough to make investing in a wedding videographer worth it?

wedding videographer worth it

5) But we already have a photographer… surely we don’t need both?!

Throughout this post, I’ve referred to both photos and video as being an essential part of anybody’s wedding, and I truly believe that: both are essential, and you should have both. That being said, there seems to be some feeling by a few people in wedding planning groups on Facebook that videographers shouldn’t charge as much as photographers, and to be quite honest I’m perplexed as to why they feel this way. Videographers are there just as long as, if not longer than, photographers, and we have a lot more editing to do after the fact to make your perfect Wedding Film (so maybe we should even charge MORE than your photographer). What’s more, it could be argued that a Wedding Film is even more important than wedding photos. This is, of course, a highly controversial topic, and I wouldn’t like to offend any photographers, but I do genuinely feel that, while photos will freeze your happy moments in time, a film will allow you to relive them. That’s all I’ll say on the matter.

So what do you think: is a wedding videographer worth it?. Maybe I’ve helped you be sure that you do want one, or maybe I’ve completely put you off. Whatever you decide, make sure you aren’t disappointed with the only souvenirs you have from the happiest day of your life.