Help with startup at

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 22nd, 2008, 08:00 PM   #1
New Boot
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 7
Help with startup

As a film student Iíve been looking for a way to fund the completion of my education and get my own equipment to work on my projects not just those related to school assignments. I am looking into the possibility of working as a Wedding videographer. In the local area the preponderance of weddings during the April-September timeframe is jestingly known as ďThe Wedding SeasonĒ (approximately 1 wedding every 30 minutes.) I cannot deny the income potential that is available which has led me to investigate the cost of starting up and acquiring the materials that I need. The research that Iíve done leads me to believe that the EX1 is the best option for me because of the extended record times on the SxS cards, the amazing HD pictures, the accessible price point, etc. In addition to shooting weddings on my own, a camera of this quality will allow me to pick up local work for other projects and is good enough that I could list it as available for rentals.

Anyway, I have done a good amount of research and combined with my film school experiences I have put together the following list of the setup that I am anticipating. My question for those that have far more experience is this a good setup? Am I missing anything that I should have or have I included anything that I donít need? Any kind of guidance that you can give me would be of great help. I am hoping to complete my business plan in the next 2-3 weeks and start meeting with banks to get the funding I need.

Is this a good setup? Are the price points roughly accurate? Do I really need a Mattebox (at least 80% of my work will be outside)? What is a good tripod that I could get for roughly the price Iím looking at (or cheaper)?

Item Est. Price
Sony PMW-EX1 $ 6,500.00
2 SxS 16gb $ 1,800.00
Spare Battery $ 250.00
Mattebox Kit $ 1,800.00
Glidecam 4000 Pro $ 450.00
Tripod $ 700.00
Lavalier Mic $ 700.00
Mac Pro incl. FCP 6 $ 5,000.00
Blu-Ray Burner $ 800.00

Startup Costs
(Advertising Etc.) $ 2,500.00

Total $ 20,500.00
Jacob Eichert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2008, 09:53 PM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Couple of things. Both questions and remarks.

1 camera? While I know a few experienced guys today that shoot with 1 camera and I myself learned how to shoot 25+ years ago with 1 camera (and frankly always shoot like I only HAVE 1 camera running) most folks today do use 2 at ceremonies, plus cameras always seem to go dead on you at the wrong time.
Secondly, I don't know about your area but here in the greater Chicagoland area a $2500 ad budget will get you maybe 3 show booth rentals with no other materials or ads. The budget you picked for advertising just seems really low to me. Years ago when I WAS doing the bridal shows and advertising fairly heavy and regularly my monthly ad budget was almost that. Shows around here are 800 to 1000 to get a booth so you can figure it from there.
There are many other aspects to starting a wedding/event business as I'm sure you're well aware of but let me touch on 2 more just to remind you. First of all the wedding/event business is one of the hardest most cutthroat businesses there is. "Everyone is a videographer" and there is always someone "cheaper" than you. Fact of business. Secondly until you have put together some sort of demo and start to develope some sort of good reputation brides are somewhat reticent to hire a new budding business and trust THEIR most important day to, UNLESS they are very inexpensive. So it['s kind of a catch 22 for a couple of years. The point is you need money to live on and pay your bills and pay back the bank loan thats running your business and I think you've underestimated the number you need and perhaps overestimated the money that can be made in the industry in the first year or 2.
I know, I'm throwing a negative whammy on your idea and I do apologize as I do not mean to be negative but from an experience standpoint I want to be as realistic as I can be so you won't get hit with any surprises as you go forward in your new venture. Things can be very slow in the beginning and some times they don't get any better but sometimes they do. I know guys in the business that have been around as long as I have and barely make enough to pay the rent and I know guys in the business for 5 years that make a very substansial living (at least that's what they tell me)
Again, I'm not trying to rain on anyones parade just want you to see both sides.
If I were you I would up the ante for advertising about $3 to $5000 and don't forget incidentals. Things like cases and lighting and audio and anothe card or 2 and stationary and business cards and DVD cases and photopaper if you print your own and...well the list goes on. You might also want to converse with an attorney and CPA to figure out the best way to set up your business and draw up a legal agrrement between you and your clients. Don't forget insurance to cover the gear and liability in case someone "trips" over your tripod at the reception.
Just a few things to think about. Best to you in your new venture and above all else, HAVE FUN!
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2008, 11:54 PM   #3
Major Player
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Columbia,SC
Posts: 806
I would say no mattebox I guess, I can't imagine what a matte box would be for at a wedding. I would also take $20 of your budget and buy "Guerilla Marketing". Don't spend your money until you have to. Film school or not, this is not a business you can just jump into because you have the equipment. You should find a local competitor. Someone who has been doing it for a long time, and work for them for a while. Learn the ropes. See the pitfalls firsthand. See what you like, what you don't like. Find out what brides really want in a video. Do it right. If it was me, I would buy used. The EX1 is a great looking camera, but probably won't make you any more money than a couple of used FX1s. Double up on cameras and audio, because nothing will ruin your business faster than missing something because of a broken piece of equipment. And from one new business man (in business for 3 years) to another; no matter what anyone tells you - NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER go into debt to start a business. You will be much better off delivering pizzas than killing yourself with an ill conceived business. I started with 1 used Canon Gl1 and a consumer Panasonic GS120, 1 tripod and a wireless mic. And now I feed my family from our video business. Weddings are not a film set. Make it guerilla from the start and you will do much better. Think about what is the minimum I need to shoot this. I know a guy that brings a crane jib out to weddings, because that's what he knows. It's all too much. Even today, I bring 3 cameras, 3 tripods, a monopod, 1 on camera light and a backup light, 1 wireless setup, 3 irivers and a Zoom H2. I have enough tapes, batteries and other backups to last me for weeks, and I carry everything in 1 load. You will end up shedding everything that you can't carry anyway, so don't waste your money. And I hope I didn't stress this enough PLEASE don't go into debt to start a business. PLEASE. Best of luck. This is a very cool and rewarding business if you do it right, and a horrible and terrifyingly soul draining business if you do it wrong. I have found it to be both in relatively equal doses.
Bill Grant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 23rd, 2008, 12:29 AM   #4
Major Player
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 857
Spare Battery $ 250.00
Mattebox Kit $ 1,800.00
Glidecam 4000 Pro $ 450.00

I'd hold out on these three. I'm not sure what battery you're talking about. If it's batteries that makes more sense.

Ditto on the camera. You need two. We use three.

I'd also skip the Blu-Ray for another few months. You need that money for advertizing. More than anything you need a killer demo. Don't do a bridal show until you have it, then go for it.

It is cutthroat. You'll make it if you have extra cash + an extra job + talent + time. This is the most important: Have a threshold to identify if the business has failed. If you pass that threshold and still sink money into advertising and gear, it can hurt you for many years instead of one or two. (I don't say this with pessimism, but as a result of a previous failed business.) Sometimes it seems that the wisest business decision is to step on the gas, but know where the brake is and when to use it.

This will definately sound pessimistic, but we are in the early stages of a recession, and the first thing to go for a bride is her videographer. Banks may be equally as pessimistic. As a business decision, the smartest thing for you may be to wait, watch the economy, contact S.C.O.R.E. (, save your money and keep your day job (depending on where you live). You'll have time to produce great demo material. It might even make sense to buy the camera stuff now, film some weddings, master your camera, and get the computer stuff when you're ready to launch.

While in film school, use their equipment all you can, as gear both breaks and depreciates. Remember the Princess Bride, when the Man in Black considered his resources before storming the castle. The bank may give you money, but they'll want more money back, so only get what you need and let your profits lead you into more gear.

You're going to need to do freebies at first, so see what you can do with the school's gear. Your portfolio is more valuable than your resume at this point.

Finally, and you're going to kill me for this too, I wouldn't get an EX1 for weddings -- at least not as a starter camera -- especially when you will need two. You'll need to be able to afford the second camera quickly, and brides do not care about gear; they want coverage. Plus, if your second camera sucks, the footage will look funny. For color's sake alone, go with two of the same camera. One can be static, or:

Use the pickup line: "Hey, I need a second shooter for this wedding for my business. I'll teach you how to run one of these things *and* take you out to dinner." She'll love that you're a business man and probably love to help. Dinner might be the toughest sale. ;o)
Weddings | Corporate | HMC150s | FCPX | Encore | Lion
Dana Salsbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 23rd, 2008, 12:40 AM   #5
Major Player
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 857
BTW, Don and Bill could not be more accurate. Keep in mind that many college profs don't have a clue about how to make it in the business world, although there are some good ones. Debt is a killer, and a stinky thing to bring into marriage (which I'm guessing you're at that age). If you're anything like me, you'll never have to worry about lacking passion. Wisdom is more important right now. If you ever get bored with it, *then* you might have to worry about passion. ;o)
Weddings | Corporate | HMC150s | FCPX | Encore | Lion
Dana Salsbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 23rd, 2008, 12:55 PM   #6
Major Player
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Thunder Bay, ON. Canada
Posts: 374
Hey Jacob,
I have to agree with everyone else, I would get 2 A1's for the price of the Sony. Also when I started up I figured around $15000 and I would be set, I now have $40,000 invested and still adding. This business is tough, In the last three years I have tripled my business, yet going into our fourth year we are at our first year bookings. Could be because of the recession, or just one of those things. It is kinda like a roller coaster ride. If your doing weddings for the money and film is your passion I can guarantee that you'll be out of it after one year. Once you have a couple brides from hell and we all do, you'll just say it aint worth it. I love filming weddings and the people we meet, however this is what I want to do, not corporate or filmmaking. Really ask yourself that question cause if you don't like it, it will definitely show in your work and brides will pair you with everyone else just doing it for the money. This is just my 2 cents though.
Jason Bowers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 23rd, 2008, 03:15 PM   #7
Major Player
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 857
J. Bowers,

You aren't the only one. I have a slew of couples who really, really want to hire us, but just can't. The more I think about it, the less I can encourage someone to enter this industry right now. The smarter business move is to work for an established company.

J. Eichert, wedding videography is seen by brides as a luxury. I don't agree, but perception is reality. Since 1944, the average length of a recession is 10 months, so I wouldn't anticipate any action for a year at least. In the meantime you can still make money, but I wouldn't plan on making it in weddings. ALTHOUGH, when you're starting out, you're probably going to be doing freebies, which are always recession proof.
Weddings | Corporate | HMC150s | FCPX | Encore | Lion
Dana Salsbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 23rd, 2008, 03:49 PM   #8
Major Player
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: MOSCOW
Posts: 860
Just one note, IMNO,
from my prospective buying a tape based camcorder is a better solution, although I plan to buy EX1, it's not going to be my main camera,
I happen to shoot weddings, corporate events, a two or three cameras shoots, having different formats, work flows may pose additional difficulties, time, etc, consider that you may be hired to film for someone else, to leave originals with the client...
Oleg Kalyan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 25th, 2008, 02:08 PM   #9
Major Player
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ogden, UT
Posts: 349

I can see that you are in Salt Lake, which makes several of your questions make much more sense. Let me offer you what advice I can from a fellow videographer here in Utah. I started up my company in Salt Lake and I've since moved to Ogden. Facing the unique challenges of the market here is fun in its own way. The advice you have received thus far is brilliant, but not all of it applies to the way most wedding videos are done here. With that in mind, let me give you my two cents on things.

First, the EX-1 is going to be overkill. It's a great camera and if you can get other paying work as well as rent it out then get it. Otherwise, it's total overkill for a standard LDS temple wedding. It's an excellent camera so if you can get other work with it then go for it. If I was starting out right now, I'd get a Canon XH-A1 for the price. If it were simply choice, I'd get the HVX200.

Second, you don't need Blu-Ray yet. I have yet to have a couple ask for HD, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Third, the mattebox could be nice if you are doing other work with this. If it's just for weddings, I'd say save your money (not to mention the weight when you fly this on the Glidecam).

Fourth, advertising. How are you advertising and where are you spending $2,500 to do it? If you're listing yourself on or then that's great. Otherwise, you're throwing it away around here. My best leads have come from networking with local vendors. Keep in mind that this is a sidejob for me and not my main source of income. I'd recommend those two websites before anything else if you have the money to do so. As others have said, it's a bad idea to go into large amounts of debt to startup. Many clients in the area are looking for a good price, especially from someone starting up. Don't expect to be making $1,000 or more per wedding and getting a lot of bookings. It's not a very realistic goal in my experience.

Fifth, Glidecam. I'd definitely recommend it. For these outdoor shoots it adds SO much more interest to the video. Instead of a mattebox I'd invest the money in some sort of vest/full body setup for the Glidecam or other steadicam system. You better have strong arms if you're flying an EX-1 with accessories. The forearm brace is a good addition. It's $250, but it definitely helps.

So, with all of this said, I wish you the best of luck. If you have any questions about the local market feel free to email or send me a message. I'm open to any questions and I'll help you in whatever way I can. I've met some incredible videographers here in Utah, some just by talking on this board. So best of luck and let us know how it goes. =)
Endless Images
Mike Oveson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 28th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #10
New Boot
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Lagos (Nigeria)
Posts: 6
That budget is a mouthful. For a startup? And from a bank?
That sounds Eldorado to me. My entire startup was about a third of that and I've managed four weddings so far in six months. My setup may sound awful by standards but it prevented me from getting my nose in the mud while the going was slow. I have found with experience how impracticable it is to work with a single cam so I'm working towards a second. Achieving that will definitely improve my work and leverage my charge fees. Mind you, three out of the four weddings I did were for free, but it is cheaper advertising while I build a demo reel. I believe having a demo reel and networking with related services can do the magic for me.
It is certain anyway that the environment differs, but the principles might not be that far apart.
I wish you all the best though.
Dotun Adesida is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 28th, 2008, 05:59 PM   #11
New Boot
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 7
Thanks for your responses all. In the course of a week all my plans have changed. I met with some of the professors in the business department on campus this past week and combined with what they said and what you and many others have said I'm going to put off starting up for a year. Basically it came down to three things;

1) Starting a business that deals with a luxury item when a recession is ramping up can be very risky.

2) The local market is saturated with weddings but also with videographers, most of them are crappy and without a solid demo reel there would be nothing to separate me from the crap.

3) The fed is going to keep dropping interest rates trying to control the recession and knowing that it would be wiser to wait until I can get a cheaper rate to start.

It took me a few days to accept it all but not doing it this year really is the right way to go. I can borrow a camera setup from my school a couple of times to do my own project but I will have to beg for the privilege. Usually we're only allowed to use the cameras for class assignments. They don't want students making money with their equipment.

Many of you commented about needing a second camera, the reason I was only planning on one is because in this area 90% of the weddings you shoot are LDS (mormon) weddings. In those ceremonies, the actual "I do" takes place in their temples where you're not allowed to film. So there is no requirement to have coverage shots. Basically what you film is the couple outside of the temple after the actual wedding. It's a very unique market. The films you can produce are still very good if you have any measure of talent and skill.

Those that are good at what they do film over 100 weddings a year in the area. Those that do it on the side don't do anywhere near that amount, I've spoken to some who do less than 5 a year. Here is a link to one of the guys who is working a lot 150+ weddings is what I was told he did in 2006. http://davidperryfilms.squarespace.c...urt-salt-lake/ his stuff is pretty good, some of his shots are not my style but people like the movies he makes for them.

So long story short I'm going to put it off for a year. I really wish I could start this year but I think it's for the best to wait. Try to borrow the schools equipment and shoot a couple of freebies. I had a bank willing to loan me the money but it will have to wait. In the meantime I'll keep working and develop the skills that I have right now. Thank you all for your feedback and input. When I get some shot this year I'll put them up here for show and tell. i show you tell what I can improve.
Jacob Eichert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 29th, 2008, 07:16 PM   #12
Major Player
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 857
Good call Jacob. Tough call too; I know. This doesn't mean you can't start sharpening your saw. It takes time to develop an awesome web site. You can also work on a quality logo, then animate it for a stunning intro to your videos and web site. You can also produce love stories without even leaving campus, and turn every assignment to make it relative to your business. I'd also get your website up now, even if you aren't advertizing, as I've heard that Google gives preference to those who have been around the longest. When you come on the scene it will be more like an invasion than a launch!
Weddings | Corporate | HMC150s | FCPX | Encore | Lion
Dana Salsbury is offline   Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:31 AM.

DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network