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


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Old December 6th, 2010, 01:28 PM   #1
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Interviews at Weddings

I have just done my last wedding with guest interviews. Actually, I shouldn't say interviews; they are actually short clips where guests extend their best wishes to the newlyweds. There are two reasons that I made this decision. The first is the PITA factor. It's a serious distraction from the primary task of shooting the event. That's true even with two shooters. It's hopeless with one. If you are preoccupied with shooting interviews, the quality of your shooting otherwise will suffer because of the preoccupation and distraction with the interviews. If there is an event coordinator, they can be a HUGE pain with their constant interruptions with -"Film him, film her" throughout the event.

The second, and the straw that broke the camel's back, is the 'drunk' factor. It's a real problem shooting guests that have had too much to drink. They sometimes make a babbling fool of themselves. I am so tired of some slobbering drunk admonishing the couple about how their married life is going to be tough but to hang in there. I don't know why that's the drunk's favorite thing to say. There's no doubt that they won't want to be forever remember on the couple's wedding film that way. The drunk 'filter' in my NLE is called 'delete'. If someone is obviously in bad shape, I just don't use their clip.

But then there is this problem - I just finished editing a wedding video where the bride's father was three sheets to the wind and made a real fool of himself. That did it. I don't want to be put in that spot again. It can potentially be a problem either way you handle it. Which question do you want to answer. 1.) Why didn't you film my father. 2.) Why did you film my father drunk? I chose to not use the clip because "I had a camera problem." That way she was just upset. If I had included her father's drunken performance, she would have been outraged. I figured upset was better than outraged.

I would be interested in other opinions on this.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 01:37 PM   #2
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I'm not a big fan of interviews during the reception. I find that people are either 1) drunk like you said 2) don't know what to say and look like a fool.

Now if someone pulls me aside to say something, I'll film it, but in general I tell brides we don't do interviews.

In answer to your question. I would just not include the father. I don't think she would be too upset. If she asks specifically for the footage from her father...give it to her. I'm guessing though that there is so much going on she won't have a check list to see who did/didn't get interviewed.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 01:49 PM   #3
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I agree. NO WELL WISHES! (picture a big sign with a big red circle and a line thru the DRUNK holding a mic)

I too used to do them but only with the parents and maybe the bridal party but after too many people not only making complete asses out of themselves and not just being embarressing but downright insulting I stopped. Well that plus being away from the real purpose of my being there and having been called out by a few people I decided enough was enough.

Some people seem to think that a wedding is the time to make complete and total jerks out of themselves and try to make themselves feel good by belittling and in some cases threatening the vendors. Since I don't play that game with anyone I decided to take one area of abuse out of play. No more interviews/well wishes.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 03:48 PM   #4
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If you do interviews do them early on in the reception. For most people 1 or 2 drinks is fine - 3 or 4 drinks not so good. Its the same whether they are dancing, giving speeches or being interviewed.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 05:06 PM   #5
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Hi Guys

To be completely different my guest interviews are my package trademark..brides will often chose me simply because I do the interviews!!!

What I do is attend the first half of the photoshoot and then leave the couple with the photog and grab the guests during pre-dinner drinks. They are all usually on their first drink anyway so there is no chance of them being drunk and my comments and well wishes are always meaningful and the brides love 'em!!!!

I have never had any bad comments from guests as they have just been to the ceremony and are in a great mood. Some are tough to coax into saying something but I never force them to be on camera. If they don't want to do it then I just move on!!! Most are quick and the edit is more like a "vox pops" with the short clips all strung together so the bride basically gets a lot of greetings, happy thoughts and even marriage advice in a very short time.

Jim, you must have done yours well into the evening to have drunks staggering around ??? Doing them later also means very high ambient noise levels which isn't good...I normally grab the guests as soon as they are relaxed and as more and more arrive I wind up the comments when the room noise level becomes excessive.

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Old December 6th, 2010, 06:31 PM   #6
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I'm with Chris on doing these right after the ceremony while the post-ceremony photo sessions are going on. Except that I do not call these things "interviews." I tell the guests that I'm assembling a "video reception line." That seems to contain the chances that I'll get a rant or worse. In 16 years, I've never had a drunk and have had only 5 or 6 guests who were genuine jerks or idiots. Editing got rid of them.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 07:28 PM   #7
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No interviews.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 12:37 PM   #8
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We try to do interviews with as many close family members as possible, especially with Grandma and Grandpa. This section, according to my past brides, have been one of the most valuable pieces of video for obvious reasons.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 12:57 PM   #9
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Perhaps the way to do this is to do it without mentioning it beforehand. I agree that it can be nice to have interviews with close friends and family members. But when too much is made of it beforehand, that's when it can become problematic. At one wedding, the wedding event planner thought she was also the DP for the interviews. It was a major distraction all day and evening with constant interruptions - "interview him, interview her" with a strongly implied, "right now." I politely said something to her but it had no effect at all. Apparently she wanted to make it clear that she thought she was the big boss. She didn't hire me; the couple did but that didn't matter to her. Generally speaking, the well established event planners are a pleasure to work with and are very helpful. It's the upstarts that can sometimes be a problem. In their zeal to establish themselves, they can be really pushy. Since they are new, they are as nervous as the bride (or even more so) which can make them very testy.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 02:20 PM   #10
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Ideally I just set-up in an area where everyone can see what is going on. Invite over a couple of the more outgoing members of the wedding party. Everyone sees them having a relaxed fun time in front of the camera - and the main job is done.

As a couple of others have mentioned interviews done well can be the most valued part of the film, especially after a time has gone by. In five years time no-one is going to drool over slow pans of the flower beds.

The other big advantage is those intimate vignettes can be used to finesse the pacing of the finished piece.

True - they can be tricky to pull off, and sometimes (due to space/time/noise considerations) impossible. But it's worth spending the time creating something that no photographer can come close to emulating.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 11:02 PM   #11
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A few reason's why I don't do guest interviews.
1.Just think how many guests are there with boyfriends or girlfriends that might break up.
2. Now picture the couple watching the video a few years later and saying who was that guy/girl?
3. I've noticed that most guests don't like to be put on the spot to say something clever or heartwarming.
4. Pulls you away from the action or can potentially make you miss great moment.

The only interview I like do is with the couple that just got married.
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Old December 8th, 2010, 02:54 AM   #12
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On behalf of myself and those who also do thoughtful, intelligent, sober interviews I'm delighted that so many others think they're worthless or worse - because they leave the competitive field open for us. These interviews are, as Warren wrote, the most valued parts of the programme - if not at first (when other elements might compete for that description) then certainly in the long term.

In my view, the important elements are that the interviews are professional (ie not embarrassing), thoughtful (ie considered or structured so that they encourage the interviewee to think about their answer) and memory-jogging (ie so they have a secondary value also), and draw from the interviewee views and comment of worth (ie worth remembering and being remembered for). I've yet to meet any couple who don't think that drunken thank yous or vulgarity, innane "did you enjoy it?" type of questions and even worse are a waste of time and rightly condemned. If they didn't think so before the wedding when the video producer was proposing them, then certainly afterwards when the programme is finished.

Of course, such language and content isn't confined to interviews; I recently had a Best Man who wished the couple a wonderful honeymoon in North Wales. Now for the benefit of readers elsewhere, North Wales in late November is hardly an ideal honeymoon destination. The Best Man confessed that he too was puzzled by the choice but assured the audience that the groom had vowed that he was going to Bangor (a university town in N. Wales) for the whole week. For an adult audience it was a neat play on words and got a deserved laugh. But in 10 or 15 years time how will the couple handle the embarrassment of their son or daughter as they watch their parents' wedding video?

Maybe I'm over-sensitive but I always ask clients if they want such remarks to remain in their programmes. If I was younger I might not ask but view it as re-edit potential for the future!
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Old December 8th, 2010, 01:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian VanCattenburch View Post
A few reason's why I don't do guest interviews.
1.Just think how many guests are there with boyfriends or girlfriends that might break up.
2. Now picture the couple watching the video a few years later and saying who was that guy/girl?
3. I've noticed that most guests don't like to be put on the spot to say something clever or heartwarming.
4. Pulls you away from the action or can potentially make you miss great moment.

The only interview I like do is with the couple that just got married.
I do guest interviews/ (or whatever they want to call it) because :
1. It is a footage you can add to your final product. Specially for feature film or highlights.
2.It is valuable to the couple, most wedding couple I have asked about says that wedding is all about family.

Ian,
----interviews (or whatever it is called) doesn't have to be heartwarming or clever, it could be anything. It might not mean a thing to us, but for the couple, it does.
----we usually do interviews when everyone is dancing or while they are dancing, or most of the key events is over, that way you don't miss a great moment. by doing this, we are putting them into their comfort zones, not isolating them. I myself would not even put myself into a quite place and talk, a lot of people have the guts to do it but a lot of more people cant.

Again, guest interviews doesn't have to be heartwarming or something the will make everyone cry. That is actually what most people see, but hey you cant put a twist on these things and make it fun.

In this clip, there are couple of guest interviews but good enough to show my point. just my two cents.
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Old December 8th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #14
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It's a fine line. Either do them right away, before the couple is introduced, or at the end, when it's purely the dance floor going on. That elimates the fear of missing something much more important. However, I get what you're saying about later on, and them being drunk. I also find it tough not being sure who's truly important. It could be their Mom's coworker, who the bride hardly even knows, in there wishing her well.


Overall though, I do think couples enjoy it, and it's worth keeping in. I usually fade to black at the end, then fade up and add in the couple minutes of well wishes. So it's seems like a little something extra.
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Old December 8th, 2010, 07:51 PM   #15
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Hey, Jim, here are a few of my thoughts for you on this.

First, we used to offer 'interviews' but we called them 'personal messages'. We offered them as an add-on and it appealed to about 40-50% of our couples. The other couples would always sort of make a face at the idea of having personal messages. They were not at all 'down with it'.

Over time we sort of phased out our personal messages add-on. There were multiple reasons for this. The first stemmed from the timing for recording the messages. Between the ceremony and reception we were always in 4th gear with relocating our equipment, setting up for the reception, and getting reception beauty shots. Once the reception started, the only ideal time was during dinner, when the guests were all in one location and it was easy to track who you had gotten on camera, and the music was also generally a bit lower. Once the events started rolling and the open dancing started, it was generally impossible to get what we wanted (not to mention the drinking that had been going on). But the problem with doing them during dinner was it felt really intrusive to interrupt a table of guests during their meal. In addition, by the time dinner rolls around we generally haven't eaten anything for 6, 7 or 8 hours and missing dinner to record messages was killing us later in the evening.

Another big reason was getting put off by guests. Having guests ask you to come back later when they've had a bit of time to think .. or drink .. was making our job infinitely harder because we were having to then remember those guests and try and find sometime later in the action-packed evening to get back to them. This problem was even worse when close friends or family were asking us to do this, because then there was even more pressure to make sure we remembered. Given our intense cinematic shooting style the shooting of messages was just really starting to kill our creative flow for the events of the evening.

On top of that, you will always end up with messages that leave you wondering if they should be included or not. Whether it's someone who has had too much to drink, or someone who doesn't understand how to give a good message, or someone who just was nervous and messed up a lot, or someone who happened to be the bride's ex-boyfriend and you don't know it .. or .. whatever. The time we were spending in post-production on messages was frustrating and so we started jacking up the price for the add-on for the time and hassle on the wedding day and afterwards.

So at this point we don't offer personal messages, although we would probably do it if a client specifically requested it and was willing to pay us decently to do it. We've only done personal messages maybe 3 times in the past two years, and we're loving it. Best of all, our couples could care less because they are looking forward to their short form more than anything else.


Now, regarding your situation with the intoxicated father, I would simply tell the bride and let her decide. She may take your advice or you may need to put the segment online (password protected) so she can see for herself. The last thing I would do is lie and tell her you had a camera issue. Mostly because I'm just a really honest guy but also because I don't want to place blame on myself for something that wasn't my fault. Don't take the fall for dad being drunk. Let her decide if she wants it or not.

Good luck. And also, to those of you who love doing personal messages or interviews, more power to you!
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