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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old June 17th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #1
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Afghan Wedding Client - ???'s

I have a potential wedding client and the couple is from Afghanistan and are having that type of wedding. I've never shot an Afghan wedding, so I'm concerned with knowing how to shoot and what to shoot. I'm also concerned with how to edit, especially since I will likely not understand most of what is going on. The couple doesn't speak very good English either, so I'm worried about us being on the same page both in terms of shooting and editing ... and for that matter, the contract. I've also been informed that their budget is on the low end of my packages. However, the groom has expressed a lot of interest in HD and they both say they want something very professional.

So I have two questions.

First, what should I know about Afghan weddings and the culture before I decide to pursue this job or not?

Second, what would you do with a potential client that is for a date you probably woudn't book at this point, but that also could turn out to be problematic due to language and cultural differences?
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Old June 17th, 2008, 05:38 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
I've never shot an Afghan wedding, so I'm concerned with knowing how to shoot and what to shoot.
Tip #1
NEVER use the word "shoot" when talking about an Afghan wedding.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 05:46 PM   #3
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Hi Travis............

Seems to be NZ hour on DVinfo!

You could do worse than type "Afghan Wedding" into Google.

I just did and got some pretty interesting stuff on just that.


CS


PS: I second the "shoot" recommendation.

PPS: Afghanis are NICE people.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 05:46 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dennis Murphy View Post
Tip #1
NEVER use the word "shoot" when talking about an Afghan wedding.
I want to believe that was a joke, but am I correct or not?
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Old June 17th, 2008, 05:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Seems to be NZ hour on DVinfo!

You could do worse than type "Afghan Wedding" into Google.

I just did and got some pretty interesting stuff on just that.


CS


PS: I second the "shoot" recommendation.

PPS: Afghanis are NICE people.
I was planning to research the traditions, and the couple gave me a copy of a wedding video of a friend of theirs, but my question I guess was more aimed at the professionals on here in terms of how to approach the shooting and editing of a cultural event you don't really understand. Also, I would like to know of any pitfalls to watch out for or things I could do that would be offensive to the guests.

And as for the "shoot" thing, I guess you guys are being serious? I can't tell at this point.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 06:18 PM   #6
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let me join the NZ tour~~~

if I edit a wedding which i am not familiar with, I will ask the couple to come back and watch the ceremony rough cut together. In this way, you can sure a did everything right and know more about their wedding ceremony.

here is my 2c.... from New Zealand~~
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Old June 17th, 2008, 06:31 PM   #7
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let me join the NZ tour~~~

if I edit a wedding which i am not familiar with, I will ask the couple to come back and watch the ceremony rough cut together. In this way, you can sure a did everything right and know more about their wedding ceremony.

here is my 2c.... from New Zealand~~
Here's the only problem I see with that. It takes time to sit down with the couple and preview the video, and more time to go over changes (which always come up any time you do a preview), and even more time to make those changes to the edit. This couple is already looking to book one of my bottom packages, and they aren't going to be willing to pay for the extra time for a viewing, discussion and edit changes. I also am not willing to work for free, which is what I'd be doing if I did a preview and edit session with the couple without charging for it.

So although I'd like to be nice about it and just do a preview and re-edit for them, from a business perspective it's a really bad idea because I'd be giving away my time for free.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 06:40 PM   #8
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Here's the only problem I see with that. It takes time to sit down with the couple and preview the video, and more time to go over changes (which always come up any time you do a preview), and even more time to make those changes to the edit. This couple is already looking to book one of my bottom packages, and they aren't going to be willing to pay for the extra time for a viewing, discussion and edit changes. I also am not willing to work for free, which is what I'd be doing if I did a preview and edit session with the couple without charging for it.

So although I'd like to be nice about it and just do a preview and re-edit for them, from a business perspective it's a really bad idea because I'd be giving away my time for free.
My company always allow client to preview the rough cut to ensure everything A-OK, plus try to get some more add-on service. 70% of client will come and check out the rough cut and, lucky, 10% of them require some minor changes. Review rough cut with client is part of my job here~
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Old June 17th, 2008, 07:06 PM   #9
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Travis, you are going to end up working for free no matter what you do....I quit "shooting" cultural weddings for many other reasons as well....they pick the bottom package, and over time, will want everything for peanuts. Raw footage, 2 - 3 hour wedding coverage, pre ceremony coverage at the grooms and brides home, special events filmed in thier entirety, special editing after the DVD is delivered....none of which they are going to ask you about until they get the first round of DVD's. When you think you're done with the project, it only has just begun. They will call you at all hours of the day, wanting more....more....more....more...Then, at that point, you blow your brains out.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 07:49 PM   #10
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Also, Afghan ceremonies usually start at 7:00pm and finish with the reception ending about 4:00am. They get a little sleep and begin opening thier gifts in front of all of the guests. You might get asked to film this as well,(You just won't know it until you start packing up to leave).

Additonally, expect to be asked to follow the couple around to every guest table for photo and video opportunities. They want all 400 - 650 guests to be photographed and video'ed with the couple. Most of the requests for video services occur at the reception. Mom's and Dad's are insisting you follow them around and shoot stuff. I ended up using 12 tapes by the time it was all over. I thought I had figured these people out and new what to expect the next time I booked one of these, but it never goes down the way you contract them. They are very clever about getting around the contract.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 08:09 PM   #11
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Sorry to keep adding onto the posts, but my memory banks keep remembering more stuff.

When shooting an Afghan wedding, be prepared to get right up into thier faces with the cameras. They love this! You will need at least 3 cameras covering every angle of the event, and when I say event, I mean these people really do it up. They want to see a steadicam running around the room getting guest shots, and you better have an operator standing right with the B&G getting close-ups of faces and ring shots and a host of other activities that occur at the alter.

When you think you've covered all your bases with the couple during cosultations, the parents are the ones that will blow everyting out of the water and demand you film what they want you to film.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 09:43 PM   #12
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I want to believe that was a joke, but am I correct or not?

Of course it's a joke silly.
But, yeah, I wouldn't recommend it anyway.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 11:57 PM   #13
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Tom, you have no idea how glad I am that you posted all of that. I've had this nagging feeling that this was going to be troublesome job, and everything you described sounds like this couple. They contacted me several months ago to shoot their engagement, and they wanted 3 cameras rolling continuously for 8 hours with all the raw footage on DVD as well as an edited version and a 2nd (different) edited version and I gave them an customized estimate that I felt was actually a bit low and they thought it was way too high.

They ended up hiring someone really cheap and got a really bad video, which is why they came back. But now they are right back to picking from my lowest packages, which really don't fit with the coverage that their event requires. For example, my packages have 3 cameras for the ceremony, which is typically 15-20 minutes here. They may consider that their "ceremony" is the whole night and are expecting 3 cameras rolling from 5pm to midnight.

I think at this point I'm going to turn them down simply based on style differences. My shooting and editing style is more cinematic, and they are looking for more of a straightforward documentary approach. I only wish they hadn't left these sample DVD's with me so I didn't have to meet with them again. Maybe I'll just spend $10 and mail them back, lol.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 12:02 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by SiuChung Leung View Post
My company always allow client to preview the rough cut to ensure everything A-OK, plus try to get some more add-on service. 70% of client will come and check out the rough cut and, lucky, 10% of them require some minor changes. Review rough cut with client is part of my job here~
I'm assuming you have the preview and re-edit time built into your pricing, so that makes sense, especially if you have "add ons" to upsell. I don't, so it just doesn't make sense for me.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 02:39 AM   #15
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Hi Travis -
Don't have experience with an Afghan wedding per se, but have had experience in other unrelated businesses with clients from that area of the world - very nice people, but they are raised to bargain...

Now keep this in mind, what I'm suggesting will sound a bit strange, but it might allow you to do the work at the level you know you need to retain your professional reputation and still come out OK financially.

First, you may have to be rather blunt, not the usual customer service oriented approach - if they've already gone cheap and paid the price, you may find it necessary to remind them of this, politely, but firmly. Say you want no part of that sort of thing, and then lay out in detail what it will REALLY take to give them what you feel they deserve, and how much it will really cost to do justice to their event (mark this up by 20-30%). emphasize how important it is (to YOU) to really do the best possible job (for THEM), and that they shouldn't shortchange themselves again. Point out how they clearly are discerning and recognize quality, and quality is not cheap... as discerning folks should recognize that. Let them know that you would refuse to give them less than top quality and leave them disappointed, you would like to do the best for them, but it won't come cheap.

Now here is the tricky part - remember the 20-30%? If they are still with you, you can now begin to bargain, this is the part they really love. My appologies if you hate this, I love to bargain TOO (when it's appropriate!!), so this is not hard for me... but it's not easy for a lot of people. You've sold them on your service and the quality, and they WANT to go with you, but they won't do it unless they feel they have gotten a big discount from you. You now have the option to "work with them", yet still get what you should from the job.

The big problem is we are used to "that's the price"... this is more like buying a car... old school style... I'm reminded of a scene from a movie that escapes me at the moment where a very theatrical presentation of Persian rugs is made to a (British?) visitor. Much artful bargaining occurs, and varying qualities of goods are rolled out until "the best" is finally presented and a "great deal" is offered... I'm going to be trying to pull that reference out of my trivia bucket the rest of the night now!!!

The short of it is to realize that the "art of the bargain" is about half your battle here. If that's not your style, you'd probably best pass up front, but IF it's up your alley, there's about .52 worth of advice (.02 adjusted to reflect gas prices) as to how you might find yourself with some wonderful new clients and both end up happy!

I actually LIKE demanding people, we have more in common if we both are after THE BEST, after all! Maybe this is a way to find a good basis on which to work with them, maybe not, but I'll offer it for what it's worth, let us know how it goes!
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