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Old August 29th, 2010, 02:01 PM   #1
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Dealing with minster's who place you in bad spots.

What do you do?

Wedding yesterday and he put me to the side in the choir stand. I could only pick her up half-way down the aisle. Luckily i had a secondary camera filming it from above but i was unable to pick her up head-on as she entered the church. This is one of the most important moments and i feel i completely ballsed it up. I'm still fairly new to weddings, having only 5 under my belt to date. So how do you deal with these situations, how do you explain to the bride and groom? Do you ignore the minster's wishes and insist on a better spot and/or move right before the procession?
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Old August 29th, 2010, 03:08 PM   #2
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Hi Jordan,

I think part of dealing with an issue like this starts long before the ceremony and filming. I consult with the B&G in the weeks before the wedding and always remind them I have to follow whatever rules the officiant lays out. I let them know I am going to do the best possible job of capturing all the key moments in a nicely filmed way, but I may have some difficulties if I am required to stay in one spot (or a bad one). You have to word all this in a way that doesn't scare them, but which lets them know there may be things beyond your control.

Depending on your relationship with the B&G, you may even want to mention your issue to them right then and there. You don't want to bring them down (so maybe say it with a roll of the eyes and a laugh), but you also don't want them to wait for their video and then see something that may upset them.

In all, when a situation like this occurs, I can refer back to that previous conversation.
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Old August 29th, 2010, 05:29 PM   #3
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Many times a visit to the church and a meeting with the minister a week or two ahead of time can reveal potential problems and give you an oportunity to try and reason with the minister. I have found that clergy will respect this act of professionalism and more often than not be willing to compromise. Especially if you preface the meeting with a statement expressing your desire not to do anything that will upset anyone at the church. I can remember only one time when a priest said "you will set up here, and not move until the ceremony is over." In the final analysis you have to repect the directions of the minister. After all, you are a professional, aren't you?
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Old August 29th, 2010, 06:59 PM   #4
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That's why I always go to the rehearsal...it's a chance to meet the priest and find out where his "no-go" zones are. You can always discuss this at the same time with the bride and groom.

However remember that it's HIS Church and you have to abide by his rules and if he will only allow a camera in a certain spot then you have to respect his wishes...just make sure the bride is aware of the limitations and then do your best!!

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Old August 29th, 2010, 08:41 PM   #5
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His house, his rules. there is nothing you can do except abide and explain to the couple either WELL in advance of the event and I don't mean hours I mean a week or more OR after at the reception as you are saying goodbye for the evening or not saying anything at all. If the B&G don't know the rules of the church and officiant they can't complain. I for one do not guarentee what shot I will get in the church because of the rules of the church and officiant. Sometimes you just can't get the shot you want. Nothing you can do about it.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 12:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
However remember that it's HIS Church and you have to abide by his rules and if he will only allow a camera in a certain spot then you have to respect his wishes...just make sure the bride is aware of the limitations and then do your best!!
Chris, you used capital 'HIS' so I thought you were referring to the G-O-D.. Although same rule still applies, you wouldn't wanna mess with the big man for sure! heheh..
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Old August 30th, 2010, 01:21 AM   #7
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Jordan, my first point is that if you've only got one or two cameras on a job it's not always enough. All three of ours can also be mounted on a radio-controlled hothead for extreme cases and if nbecessary we can bring in a fourth.

This isn't excessive; your local news programme isn't even shot with one camera these days - they'll have at least three. If you're doing the job professionally get kitted professionally.

But, like most people here I do share your frustration at the attitude of some churches and indeed I'm the co-author of a piece of editorial coming out in one of the bridal magazines this autumn which suggests that brides should choose their church on whether they can have the level of video and photography they want.

I don't mean cameramen running around and climbing all over the pews throughout the service, indeed any disruption would be an insult to the dignity of the ceremony the client has chosen. On the other hand the clients have typically paid over 1000 for the service and deserve some say on how it's recorded.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 08:21 AM   #8
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Reminds me of a wedding I shot last year at a strict church here in Montreal. We had to sign a contract before the event agreeing on what we could and could not do, and where we could stand in the church. I never saw anything like it.

So I arrive, plant myself in my (bad) spot and start shooting. Ten minutes into the ceremony, the priest starts yelling at me in Italian. I think, "Oh crap, I screwed up somehow."

Turns out he's telling me to come closer, and asking what the heck I'm doing so far away. Don't I know I can't get anything good from there?

Too funny...
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Old August 30th, 2010, 10:38 AM   #9
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Often, ministers have had past experiences of what I think most here would call unprofessional. The story of the "videographer" camped out in the pulpit for example (a story I got from a few weeks ago).

IMHO: if the owner of the house says you are over there... and you have made your case clearly... then that's where you go. Grumbling to the B&G is not on, all you can do is shoot what you can and do your job.

@Philip

Nice marketing to exclude others that haven't got 4 camera rigs, although I wonder how you go on when faced with a church policy that says one camera and one official video camera only - back to basics eh? And besides I think people are looking for value (not cheap) and we charge much less than most as we have very low overheads and a very good workflow - so for us it's a two camera shoot.

Yes, attend rehearsals as this is your opportunity to assure the minister that you are not going to mess "his" day up by climbing into "his" pulpit". Difficult as it might be sometimes, but using your experience and anticipation helps to make things much easier. But you can't legislate for the idiots before you, nor can you get the light to bend around corners when stuck behind a chair.

Slap the damn thing into auto, cover your cutaways, make sure you get the vows and if you have been a broadcast trained VT editor :) then it's downhill from there.

But on no occasion, complain to the B&G on their day! You will be trying to recover any last vestige of "professional" from then on.
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Last edited by Claire Buckley; August 30th, 2010 at 10:39 AM. Reason: @philip
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Old August 30th, 2010, 10:38 AM   #10
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I have to agree with Philip. Brides should have a say when they are paying that amount of money. I remember some videographers saying that Jmags can do so much more inside the church than we do here in North America. I guess when a couple shells out a donation equivalent to the average man's annual salary, the church will turn a blind eye to that 12 foot crane in the altar.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 11:05 AM   #11
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I have to agree with Philip. Brides should have a say when they are paying that amount of money. I remember some videographers saying that Jmags can do so much more inside the church than we do here in North America. I guess when a couple shells out a donation equivalent to the average man's annual salary, the church will turn a blind eye to that 12 foot crane in the altar.
LOL, too true Noel!
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Old August 30th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jordan Brindle View Post
What do you do?

Wedding yesterday and he put me to the side in the choir stand. I could only pick her up half-way down the aisle. Luckily i had a secondary camera filming it from above but i was unable to pick her up head-on as she entered the church. This is one of the most important moments and i feel i completely ballsed it up. I'm still fairly new to weddings, having only 5 under my belt to date. So how do you deal with these situations, how do you explain to the bride and groom? Do you ignore the minster's wishes and insist on a better spot and/or move right before the procession?
Welcome to the world of shooting weddings .. in churches! d;-)

The first thing I would say is never .. NEVER .. break the rules of a venue. Even if the B&G ask you to, don't do it. If the B&G say they cleared it with the church, make sure they actually did. We nearly got blacklisted at a church once because the couple said they had cleared something and the church coordinator came up to us later and said no such thing had been cleared. Protect yourself first.

Second, be a professional when speaking to church officials. Calmly explain your situation and the shots that the B&G wanted/expected you to be able to get. Politely ask/suggest alternatives and ALWAYS be clear that you plan to follow all of the rules. Church officials are often very strict and unwilling to bend because they've dealt with rule-breakers in the past. Sometimes you might have to shoot somewhere a few times before they will warm up to you. Sometimes they never do and you may just have to refuse to work there (like we did with a venue here).

Third, get the B&G involved if you feel like you have no pull with the officials. Church officials often could care less about you (too bad, really), but if you get the B&G involved you can sometimes get them to compromise.

At the end of the day, just make sure the B&G understand that your footage is dependent on the rules you have to follow. Make sure you have a clause in your contract that protects you in the event you are placed in less than ideal filming locations.

Good luck!
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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:29 PM   #13
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I have to disagree with the statement that the B&G should have a say in the church as to the placement of video cameras and what the videographer can and can not do. I have in some churches for over 20 years in a few with the same officiant and I can tell you with certainty that if a B&G went to an officiant in his church and asked that he/she change the rules for them he would say "no". I know this for a fact as I've actually been involved in a few of these conversations. I tell the B&G that the church has these rules for a reason, whatever it is-good bad or indifferent and the chances of them changing for that particular couple is slim and none and slim is leaving town. Now should a new officiant come into the church there is a chance he might be more open minded and liberal.

When I first started most officiants would hardly let you set a camera in the church now I know some of the officiants so well they allow me to do pretty much anything I want as long as I don't disturb the ceremony but this is after years and many many weddings with these officiants and building a relationship with them. THEY might allow a few rules to be bent for a couple but thats only because of the relationship I've built with that officiant, get a new one in there and it starts over.

The point is, is that if a couple were to go to the officiant to change the rules for them the officiant might just tell them not only "no" but tell them if they don't like it, have the wedding somewhere else plus he might decide to make my life difficult for that wedding.

Talk to the officiant before the wedding and then stay within the lines because I might be the next one in and I'd hate to have the officiant take his anger at someone else out on me.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:54 PM   #14
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While I respect your opinion, Don, you and I will have to just disagree. I have brought the couple into a discussion with church officials on more than one occasion and it has worked in our favor some of those times. Some of those times nothing changed, but isn't it at least worth the shot to get better footage?

I should explain that we will go to the couple and relay the situation to them so that they are aware, and then let them know they are welcome to speak to the officials with us if they want. It's never a situation where we 'force' the couple to go talk to them, or where we encourage the couple to demand anything from them. We simply allow the couples an opportunity to convey to the church officials how important these things are to them, and sometimes it's works in our favor. In those case, I sure am glad we had the couple's support.
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Old August 31st, 2010, 12:07 AM   #15
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I've found that in all the catholic churches I've shot in, that being very respectful and proactive in finding out the limitations at the REHEARSAL gets very good results. With that said, like many here have found, they let you have creative space to do what you want as long as you abide by the guidelines (ie. don't set foot on the altar or don't move during the prayer). One minister allowed me to steadicam anywhere I pleased! I Didn't take him up on his altar though and refrained from doing any obnoxious steadicam moves during the sacred portions of the ceremony ;).

The only real push back I've had was one minister didn't prefer to wear a mic, but that instance was during the one time I forgot to ask during the rehearsal if he would be kind enough to do so for us.

A nice handshake and a smile can sometimes get you pretty far with most churches, but I recognize that not every church or minister is as willing to bend.
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