Why Approach a Wedding Like a Documentary Filmmaker?
We made a decision a while back to start thinking of our selves as “Filmmakers” rather than “Videographers.” Is there something magic about that title that transformed our work into Cinema? No, but it served as a constant reminder to us about what we wanted to focus on. It set our creative souls at rest, and allowed us to stop always comparing our work to others and worrying about how it would fit into the market.
You see a documentary filmmaker, or at least a good one:), is not doing the same product over and over again. They take on subjects and try to display that particular subject matter in the best way they can to the world. Each documentary is unique because what it is about is unique and the filmmakers view of it is unique. Yet, it connects us all because it is about human themes and truth in our world.
So, how does this apply to a wedding?
It is very easy to forget that there is a wonderful thing going on in front of us as wedding videographers or photographers. There is a commitment being made between two people that is one of the biggest commitments that we as human beings can make! Young love is committing to become old love…together. That is amazing!
Think about the layers and complexity of this for a second. This story is about the couple to be sure, but it is also the most public thing the couple is likely to do. There friends and family are there to “witness” this promise. This is about some of the most base and common aspects of life (doing the dishes, maintaining a house, etc.) married to the most holy and sacred images we ever hold before our mind; this union is compared to the union that Christ has with the church! It is a celebration, a party that looks ahead to the fights and difficulties that lie ahead in the long life of the marriage and says remember this time, this commitment before your family, friends, and God and hold it as an anchor in the coming storms of life.
This activity is so rich with meaning!
The Problems We Were Fighting as Videographers
The problem we had before we decided to commit to being filmmakers is that it is very easy to start viewing what you do with weddings as the final product. What I mean is you look at that highlights video or that ceremony coverage and say ok that took me this long to do how much should I charge. Or worse how much does X company charge and what did they do. The pull is to make this an assembly line. I get ABC shots and I can make a video.
The problem is that every time that video comes off the assembly line it is a bit more lifeless. It is kind of like the image that you make a copy of a copy of a copy of. The video is about love and the wedding but it can feel disconnected to the real people that you are shooting.
We would end up losing a lot of the complexity of what is going on. If we only are able to talk about love and marriage in general terms but we do not make the connection to this particular love story, then the video feels flat to us. It will not bring to us a true feeling of young love committing to be old love unless it can connect these two real people to the general ideas.
How do we do this?
We have to pay attention. One of my favorite quotes is “the first act of love is the giving of attention” – Dallas Willard. When we capture a wedding we need to be willing to give our attention the the couple and their love story. It is important for us to tell it well so that when they, or anyone else, watches it the film can be true to the awesome and rich commitment it was.
There are enough poor love stories and cold analytical realities that lower our view of marriage. As wedding filmmakers we are given the privilege of documenting the rich and glorious nature of what is really going on, and hopefully elevating the feeling of marriage.
This is being real, this is paying attention, this is telling a good love story:)
Reminding ourselves to pay attention
This is why we are calling ourselves Filmmakers, why it is up on our website and why we are saying it to you. Because we want to hold ourselves accountable to take this seriously. We want to remember the responsibility we have capturing weddings. We want to be challenged by ourselves and everyone around us to create art from the weddings we cover.
We hope that the films we make will help the bride and groom through their married life. At least as much as it helps us in our married life to make them:) And we also hope that, in as much as the wedding itself is public, for the edification of the couple and the audience, we hope that the wedding films will be able to be more than home video. We hope that, as art, they can communicate the wonderful story of this commitment to whoever sees them.