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Old June 9th, 2005, 10:36 PM   #1
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Insanely restrictive Church- any ideas?

I just got back from a rehearsal for a wedding this Saturday and am trying to remain as professional as possible, despite the restrictions I was given- and the stubbornness in which the priest gave them to me. The funny thing is that I took the time to introduce myself (quite courteously) to the officiate- only to have him pretty much disrespect me and wave me off in ten seconds. Seriously, it was about ten seconds of his precious time. I think they must really dislike videographers at this church. Mercerville, NJ... (no names shall be mentioned)

Rule one- I cannot move around (at all) from my corner- which is not a very favorable spot at all. My position will only provide back-shots as the action all faces forward and I am behind everything. I will be lucky to catch any face shots at all. I won't even go into detail about the procession- that'll be blocked by standing congregation.

Rule two- The priest WILL NOT wear a lav. mic. Rudely denied that request by talking about it interrupting the PA system in the church. He would not listen to the option of using the Iriver (self contained recorder) brushed that off- walking away before I could finish.

Rule three- I cannot place anything up on the podium- (My Iriver). Nothing is allowed up on the altar area.

This whole event will rely on one lav. mic on the groom (probably will not reveal this fact) -- an Iriver placed on the best man (hoping to catch SOMETHING thru it) and the rest is all on-camera microphones. I am doomed- anyone ever hear of anything this strict- any diplomatic resolutions to handling the bride and groom? I really am dreading this coming event!!!
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Old June 9th, 2005, 11:18 PM   #2
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Often I find that the officiant in these situations has had bad experiences in the past.They also like to have complete control so that .....nothing goes wrong.Can't blame them for there attitude.So , how to resolve ?
One thing is time , you need to take time to court them.Show them your work proving you respect the sanctity of marriage and in fact want to portrait the religious aspect of the marriage ceremony.
Letters of recommendation from other officiants stating that you act very professional and have always respected their requests will go a long way.
Try to impress how important accurately recording the ceremony is to your client and that just like the officiant you need everything to be perfect with no disruptions.Just like the officiant you want your production to reflect the moments of the ceremony not only to the B&G but anyone else who views it.
To do all this the audio is crucial... people should hear the B&G and officiant as if they where there.
You get the idea.Sell the professional approach as to how it benefits the officiant,church,B&G, and any who view the final product.
Regardless of your success in getting what you need send the officiant a copy of the ceremony to show the good or the bad.This will set things up for the next time.
Some officiants will then suggest you in the future as they are so pleased.
The best to you.
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Old June 9th, 2005, 11:52 PM   #3
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Saturday doesn't give you much time. Talk to the B&G, explain the problem, and it is their problem. They can talk to the officiant if they choose, or run the risk of crappy coverage. Hopefully your contract covers you, I have a "location" clause in mine that covers me against all uncooperative people. The mic on the groom might work out fine, lots of people use only this for coverage anyway. You may want to double mic him, wireless plus iriver, with one on his left lapel near the bride & preacher. Not much to do about camera angles, unless you can add a third camera on the other side in the wings.

It is the B&G problem though, not yours. Tell them ahead of time (Friday, not Saturday), give them some ammo to use if they want to talk to minister (Like some possible compromises, you will be respectful, even stay put once ceremony starts, etc.) Do the best you can within the rules they get and don't stress. Make up for it with excellent coverage of evertything else.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 12:03 AM   #4
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I've had a similar situation. I would suggest talking to the couple, and seeing if they suggest that you bend the rules a bit. When this has happened to us and we discuss it with the couple, they often say they would like us to move more than the minister would like, but it is in the couple's best interest and we have had no problems as of yet.

Just an idea.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 02:15 AM   #5
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Don't forget it's a church, a place of worship first of all.
We are guests there and have to follow the rules, not agree and then do what we want. That really will be unprofessional and confirm the priest's opinion.
I have had 1 wedding, where I wasn't allowed in the church at all! At another, I had to hide behind a pillar and just have the lens clear and I couldn't move.
The couple chose the church so they and you have to accept the limits and make do. You will just have to adapt and expand other sections. If the worst happens, you will just have to re-enact parts elsewhere.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 07:51 AM   #6
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I have it written in my contract that it is couple's responsibility to work out these details with the priest ahead of time. I give them short list of questions about the very restrictions you describe.

There are quite a few clergy who get annoyed with Videographers, Photographers, Wedding Planners, etc. The more heads-up warning for everyone, the better. The officaiant runs the ceremony. Period.

I've had situations where I have to stay in the corner, but the couple knew it before I did, and they still ended up happy (even though I didn't get a good demo out of it).
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Old June 10th, 2005, 08:21 AM   #7
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SOME WILL DISSAGREE and I suppose that is what this forum is for. I can tell you this though - my opinion is based upon similar experiences at Catholic churches.

I used to attend rehearsals and introduce myself - that changed a long time ago. Now, if it's a Catholic ceremony I never do. I just show up and do my job.

My experience has been that introducing yourself opens the doors to restrictions. You can be the most professional videographer in the history of videographers and you will still get "oh by the way, we don't allow the camera over here during..." "oh by the way, you have to be over there" "oh by the you can't be here during the walk down the isle." WHAT? I can't get the bride coming down the isle????? B.S.!!! I had one officient tell me that! I could not believe what I was hearing, I said "So Rob & Chris are going to get a wedding video without the walk down the isle? The videos I make are FOREVER - and forever she will NEVER get to see her walk down the isle???" The only reaction I got was a shrug of the shoulders. They couldn't have cared less. I thought to myself... hmm for people of God it seems they really don't care about other people. I got the walk down the isle. And wouldn't you know it, after the ceremony I was asked with a big jovial smile "did you get everything?" You jerk - had I listen to you I wouldn't have. You obviously didn't care enough either way so why was I told I couldn't be there??? THE ANSWER - because I was way too polite to an authoritarian.

Forget introducing yourself. Don't even talk to them. By introducing yourself it's perceived as you saying "hey everyone, I'm a significant part of this ceremony." You're NOT - and you re-enforce the perception that you're not a significant part of the ceremony by NOT INTRODUCING YOURSELF! Just show up and do your job. It's not disrespectful - it's professional. Am I jaded? Yeha, a little. If Prince Charles can get married twice with over 25 cameras - I think my customers should be able to get married with just two. There's nothing sac-religious about a camera - videographers are not evil.

I'm not a cowboy with the camera. I don't try to attract attention. I never go on the alter (Catholic church). I always get the procession and then I move out of the way as best I can. I've been complimented over and over and over about how professional I was - so I must be doing something right.

btw- If the officient is using a PA why do you need a mic on him anyway?

Last edited by Craig Terott; June 10th, 2005 at 12:22 PM.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 10:09 AM   #8
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I was shooting a TV show in an Episcopal Cathedral, on film not video. Lot of lights and other equipment, including a crane. I asked the Rector about what was off limits (had a bad experience in another church). I thought his reply was great. He said that nothing was off limits, it is the people that make this place sacred not the building or anything in it.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 11:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Terott
SOME WILL DISSAGREE and I suppose that is what this forum is for. I can tell you this though - my opinion is based upon similar experiences at Catholic churches.

I used to attend rehearsals and introduce myself - that has changed. Now, if it's a Catholic ceremony I never do. I just show up and do my job.

My experience has been that introducing yourself opens the doors to restrictions. You can the most professional videographer in the history of videographers and you will still get "oh by the way, we don't allow the camera over here during..." "oh by the way, you have to be over there" "oh by the you can't be here during the walk down the isle." WHAT? I can't get the bride coming down the isle????? B.S.!!! I had one officient tell me that! I could not believe what I was hearing, I said "So Rob & Chris are going to get wedding video without the walk down the isle? The videos I make are FOREVER - and forever she will NEVER get to see her walk down the isle???" The only reaction I got was a shrug of the shoulders. They couldn't have cared less. I thought to myself... hmm for people of God it seems they really don't care about other people. I got the walk down the isle. And wouldn't you know it, after the ceremony I was asked with a big jovial smile "did you get everything?" You jerk - had I listen to you I wouldn't have. You obviously didn't care enough either way so why was I told I couldn't be there??? THE ANSWER - because I was way too polite to an authoritarian.

Forget introducing yourself. Don't even talk to them. By introducing yourself it's perceived as you saying "hey everyone, I'm a significant part of this ceremony." You're NOT - and you re-enforce the perception that you're not a significant part of the ceremony by NOT INTRODUCING YOURSELF! Just show up and do your job. It's not disrespectful - it's professional. Am I jaded? Yeha, a little. If Prince Charles can get married twice with over 25 cameras - I think my customers should be able to get married with just two. There's nothing sac-religious about a camera - videographers are not evil.

I'm not a cowboy with the camera. I don't try to attract attention. I never go on the alter (Catholic church). I always get the procession and then I move out of the way as best I can. I've been complimented over and over and over about how professional I was - so I must be doing something right.
This sounds 100% right to me. I have been introducing myself and such but you are correct and I will follow this advice wholeheartedly from now on, thank you
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Old June 10th, 2005, 01:33 PM   #10
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Luck of the draw

I have only been recording weddings for two years, but I've never had a Catholic Priest tell me I absolutely cannot shoot the procession. When shooting with two or more cameras, I always run the front camera, which for the procession is handheld while I'm kneeling in front of the first row of pews, almost always directly in front of the groom and best man. After the bride and her father arrive, I keep low and slowly scoot away without drawing attention to myself. (All eyes are on the couple at this point anyway.) Then I lock the camera on its tripod positioned off to the side or in the rear of the church, letting the zoomed-in B camera cover the "hand-off."

It's in our best interest to err on the side of caution by introducing ourselves to the priest, especially if we want to ever shoot in that church again. The more we disrespect "house rules," the more unwelcome videography will become in churches for any event. I've had to shoot "back only" processions, and the B&G were comfortable with that because they knew the rules at their church. Lots of preceremony preparation can go a long way in compensating for a back-only procession. It's not ideal, but as long as the clients know it's the church's decision and not yours, you'll be okay. If the photographer's allowed to shoot the procession, it's worth apporaching him and asking to use a few of his or her shots in the video. That will probably cost a few dollars, but at least the coverage will be in the video. Better than back-only. I wish I thought about this last summer when I had to shoot several single-camera weddings from up in a choir/organ loft.

Good luck.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 03:59 PM   #11
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"Back only processions" !!! HELL NO. You may be o.k. with that but not me. No offense Tim but you invite this kind of stuff by sparking up a conversation with someone who really doesn't understand or care about what you are trying to accomplish.

I live in reality Tim... here's something I KNOW about "house rules" - they are different for different people. Take that photographer for instance that you said you would get photos from. So what's the deal on that? The photographer is privy and you're not? I'll also go out on a limb and suggest that there's a real good chance that there are other videographers who shot at that same church who got the procession head on! It wouldn't surprise me one bit. Let's put it this way... it would surprise me about as much as if I was sitting at a train station and trains arrived.

I've rarely been even talked to (face to face) about camera positions or house rules before or after a Catholic ceremony since I adopted the keep my mouth shut policy. As long as you're professional there's no need to occupy your mind with worries about being invited back. I stress - be professional.

Here's more reality... the turnover in Catholic churches is unbelievable. I've been to Catholic churches that cycle through priests just about every year. There's this one Catholic church about 30 minutes away I've shot 4 times in 3 years and every time I go there - there are different people who've never seen me before. Not that it's even an issue, but I'm certainly not fearful of not being invited back there.

Just be professional and keep your mouth shut. It works.

Last edited by Craig Terott; June 11th, 2005 at 01:59 PM.
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Old June 11th, 2005, 01:13 AM   #12
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I've gotta say, Craig.....that makes sense to me too. My first wedding (April 9th) was in a Catholic church, and they laid all kinna rules on me, and I had to remain in the loft the entire time while the (dual) photogs were both in front and behind the bridal march just snapping away, and I had not been given any rules until I introduced myself to the church dictator....I mean director. The priest was a real butt about granting me a moment to wire him too. The arrogance of these people was amazing, and I wonder if their mama's raised them that way, or if they are truly innovators.

BTW, What real part does the church play in whether or not you get invited back? I really dont think that the moment you walked in the doors the church would run up to the couple and say they can use you as a videographer, would they? I mean, as long as you do indeed obviously try to be out of the way and not draw attention to yourself, just do your job and be friendly, it wouldnt seem like a problem....and sense it is the client who does the inviting and money spending, I think their needs and wants come first, no?

As far as advice to the original poster (assuming you got up and checked this before heading out this morning), I would just accept it this go around as something you can do nothing about, and do the best you can within the restrictions.....once you've been given the rules, it's too late and you will indeed look like a punk (to the rule givers) if you go against them. But in the future, as long as a rule wasnt given, you cant follow it! This is a delicate balance to keep from heading into "maverick" territory, and I understand some will frown here...but it does make sense to me.

Last edited by Daniel Runyon; June 11th, 2005 at 01:28 AM.
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Old June 11th, 2005, 09:41 AM   #13
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Back to the "how do you handle it" aspect.

If you don't feel like getting confrontational start by explaining this to the couple. At that point, insist you get LOTS of pre and post ceremony shots. I mean lots.

Here is something I picked up from the "Breaking out of the Box" DVD. I like the double mic'ing the groom idea - do that and make sure one is an omni on the officiant side. Tap the PA if you can too. Make sure you get some good audio.

Now you time compress the ceremony by using what little good ceremony footage you have and combine it with the pre and post shots you got. Sort of create a montage of it all and lay the audio over it combined with some gentle music. Maybe start with the officiants intro and then intercut the vows. Cut the officiant out as much as you can (take that). Sounds wierd but I saw this done on the DVD and it really works nicely.

Mike
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Old June 11th, 2005, 10:11 AM   #14
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you know what, the concern with what a priests wants is NOT my concern..
Like him, i am there to do a job, if he stops me from doing that i will do what i can to DO the job, if it means pissing him off, he can take that up with the couple and the couple can discuss it with me after the event.

This is not negotiable. Hes not paying me, they are. They are my boss for teh day, not him.
Typically on a shoot, i suss out the area and i say to the priest, "Hi Im Pete, Ill be setting up here, here and here, If they try to tell me to move or go someplace else, i tell them, "Im sorry, but the design of this church dictates that i must be here for optimal coverage"
If they want to argue or touch my gear, i tell them to take it up with the couple as they are the ones who have given me the freedom to shoot at my own discretion.
This is a reason why i do not attend rehearsals.

I can be a real wanker when i need to be and when im working, i will do what i can to make sure i have the material i need for the type of presentation im creating for the client.

Ive had priests tell me where to set up, ive had others tell me to not to do certain things before ive even done them (assuming i would do something hes prolly seen done before) Ive even had priests tell me that i couldnt mic the groom because "our church has just invested in a $30k sound system so you wont need that" My response to that was "well if you can dampen that hideous reverb, i wont need mic him, but until then, hes wearing the mic because he has already paid to wear it. You can give him the refund."
Mind you this was an extreme cicumstance, but I needed to be a prick to do my job. Other times, ive been able to stash the mic under the grooms coat, so its not all conflict as this whole thread seems to make out. There are ways around this..
Hell ive even had grooms tell me they dont want to wear a mic and im like.. "ok, we'll plant it" and the Priests have been fine with that too..
so theres a mixture of responses..

Hell, i think its funny when a priests says "no flash photography" lol
Weddings are the most photographed event in a personas history and the nerve to say that is appalling.. but this is the mentality of some of these priests..

Other times, ive come in to save the day, where an Orthodox church had NO WINDOWS... and the main light (single 1500w floodspotlight from the ceiling) was out and no shit, it was so dark in there you could barely see..
Its funny as i asked the priest that "it would be beneficial for all if we had some light in here.. may I? "
He said to me that he didnt want to get distracted.. i mean seriously.. cmon.. whats more important?? that people can see or that HE's inconvenienced??
I pulled out my 10ft light stands and ran my lowel totas with brellas.. not only did it fix the problem, but people started clapping when they were turned on..
Even the photographer was grateful..
Even running their own ceiling light would have sucked as it would have created that black bags under the eyes look..

So priests and churches are not perfect, and usually theyre wrong when it comes to WHAT WE HAVE TO DO, but being professionals, we must do our best to make do with the environments given to us, just dont be afraid to be pushy, and dont take what they say about where you should be as gospel (pardon the pun)
Allowing someone to dictate to you what and how you should shoot something has the potential to ruin your business...
Believe me, im listened to priests in the past and theyre "rules" are purely based on their own experiences and opinions, which mean NOTHING.
You are there to do a job ot the best of your ability, if you are hindered, you are not doing your job properly.
Respect or not, the fact that $$ have exchanged hands dictates otherwise..

People, dont forget.. youre running a business.. Video has copped such a hammering, its not funny.. why do u think photographers can get away with anything?? Be it shooting style, freedom to move, COSTS... etc etc..
We need to take up that attitude if we want to change the way people see "wedding videos"
I dont offer "wedding videos" I never have..
My shit is different and if they want a "video" that looks generic and uses generic effects, generic edits, deliveries in 6 weeks, big arsed cameras which have no place when shooting a wedding, or a pushy salesman like the guy down the road, they can go down elsewhere...

If they want a classy looking Presentation of their day, I can do that.
And if they take the chance to go with me, i will give them what they pay for.. if not more

How much conviction do you have to your business?? How serious do u take it?? How much more work do you wish to get by referals from this one particular job? How much have you invested in yoru business so far??
Sometimes we all have to come to reality and realise that sometimes we have to do things that wont please everyone..
But also realsie that if you do something (fr eg, walk in front of uncle bob to get a shot), THAT SHOT is worth far more than uncle bobs 30 seconds of discomfort.. Uncle bob can always say hi later, but you CANT GET THAT SHOT LATER... By the end of the night, he'll get over it anyway....

The priest and everyone else is of no consequence (to a point)
The Bride, the Groom and YOUR WORK is however...
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Old June 11th, 2005, 08:37 PM   #15
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Peter: you've made your point abundantly clear, and much of what you say makes sense, but it's still the case that when you're in a house of worship they do have a right to try to dictate what goes on in there...and then it's up to us to decide how to respond to that. I agree with your main point that we need to do our jobs to the best of our ability, and that may include having to break some rules, but the way you describe that seems a bit over the top.

I prefer the more simple sentiment, "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission." On that basis I can understand why you don't go to rehearsals.
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