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


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Old January 2nd, 2013, 09:05 AM   #16
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

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You guys seem to be very convinced of your limitations. I'm not so sure. If your work is compelling enough I don't think there's as much limitation as you think.
Bill
Hi Bill,

The limitations are more in what people are willing and able to pay within your market region. There are several higher priced video companies just not getting the work right now, and looking at the inquiries I'm seeing through a planner, average wedding budgets are down to around 30%-40% of what they were a couple of years ago.

There are some venues that were doing 100+ weddings a year really struggling and one admitted to me they only had 15 weddings booked so far this year.

With this in mind, we can all tell ourselves how wonderful we are & how much our work is worth etc until we are blue in the face. We can watch Rob strut his stuff for three days of workshop and come away feeling refreshed and empowered. But, if there is a general lack of clients willing to spend the money we're all just kidding ourselves.

Now, if the area you are in still has plenty of brides willing to pay higher prices, then I feel happy for you, but it's just not like that everywhere. :(
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 10:53 AM   #17
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

Ok. Well. Alright. Like I said. Very convinced.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 11:37 AM   #18
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

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Ok. Well. Alright. Like I said. Very convinced.
Forgive me but that seems really condescending. You're making out you know better, half way around the world. Please, feel free, put us right with specifics, please, I'm looking forward to it!
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 11:45 AM   #19
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

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Ok. Well. Alright. Like I said. Very convinced.
Please tell us your secret to 30 annual $10,000 weddings booked and signed good sir! :)
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 01:12 PM   #20
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

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Please tell us your secret to 30 annual $10,000 weddings booked and signed good sir! :)
And that's the point, Bill isn't getting 30x$10K weddings and according to his site his 'average' total spend is less than 30% of that (pretty 'rounded' numbers there Bill), though it's not clear on how many weddings.

Also note Bill's wife is a photographer (just like Rob & Vanessa) which itself gives ideal opportunities for Bill to piggy back on to for lead generation, so every inquiry she gets is an opportunity for introducing the concept of video. Since photography is near the top of most Bride's 'essentials' it's a step in the door fairly early on in the planning.

We've done the Photo & Video combined packages here too, and yes it generated more work, but again, it's generally people looking for a combined packages that were 'cheaper' than the two halves put together, rather than a higher quality product overall.

It's interesting that I just watched a BBC short on why 2013 is going to be a 'bad year' for weddings (people think '13' is unlucky) and that so many venues / suppliers are having to discount significantly to keep business flowing. Any of this sounding familiar?

So against this backdrop, is this really the right time to be putting prices "up" ?
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 02:11 PM   #21
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

I don't think I ever indicated that I was making anywhere near 10k but I certainly have gone farther than I ever thought I could in my market. I was basing my statements on Chris Harding's number of $1500. As long as I was blaming my issues on my market, I got nowhere. As soon as I changed my self I'm headed where I want to go. You guys are awefully sensitive. And btw I get very few referrals from my wife. She's not working much while our daughter is young. Focus on the things you can change, not intangible things you can't affect. That's all. Not meant to be insulting.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 02:20 PM   #22
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

Thanks for the reply Bill. Much appreciated.

Believe it or not, most of us really are trying to be positive, change what can and needs to be changed.

However, the current financial climate is not helping, and as I mentioned earlier, the '13' in 2013 is putting a lot of people off too.

I have LOTS of inquiries for 2014 though!
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 02:27 PM   #23
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

Dave. 2012.was my best year by far to the point that my wife could draw back on working as much
. My market is under 200k people in the American south. Not your normally progressive area. I figure if I can do it in a small way here it can be done anywhere. Check out Natalie Bradley at Bride Attraction | Market to Highend Brides | Wedding Industry Marketing | Niche Bridal Marketing | Bridal Advertising miracle working marketing. Best of luck.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 02:52 PM   #24
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

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As long as I was blaming my issues on my market, I got nowhere. As soon as I changed my self I'm headed where I want to go.
You are lucky you don't live and work in Belgium, here you can't sell a wedding over 2000 euro, Belgians are just not that videominded. It doesn't matter how good you are, the market in this country will not allow you to do high end stuff and changing your own attitude won't help a bit. Brides don't pay for what you are worth, they just look for the cheapest available and there are plenty.

There is also a reason why the best known weddingvideographers don't live here, there are very good ones but they all are into small business and corporate videos because that is where the money is at.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 04:56 PM   #25
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

If I remember properly, I think during the audio section Rob says something like, "I don't normally use live music in the edit, but if the bride has spent 15 or 20,000 on a live band, there's no way I'm not recording some of that for the video."

Assuming he didn't mean 1,500 or 2,000, that kind of gave me pause. For what kind of wedding would someone spend 15,000-20,000 on a band?

Some random musings...

In Australia, the average spend on a wedding is something like 50,000-60,000, including engagement ring and honeymoon. Of that, about 10% gets spent on photo and video. I think those are the stats anyway.

In Sydney, it's not uncommon for photogs to charge 3,000-5,000. So, just going by pure averages, if the bride has a 5,000 or 6,000 budget for media, then 2,000 or 3,000 is about the sweet spot for video. And, in fact, almost all video packages in Sydney are around that point, which I think also happens to be about the price you need to charge anyway to make it viable if you're shooting with a two-person crew.

The Sydney market I think does support more costly video packages. Maybe up to 8,000. And given the choice between shooting half a dozen weddings a year at 8,000, or 30 or 40 at 2,000-3,000, the latter approach does make a lot more money, but you're working much harder for it; the former allows more time to make money from other sources (for instance, to teach cinematography courses and thereby further promote your brand), or just to take take life a little easier...

I'm skeptical that higher-end prices wil stay at this sort of point forever. Competition wil drive it down. Gear will get cheaper. Rob looks to have invested around 50,000-60,000 in his equipment. But maybe you could shoot most of his stuff running around with a $500 DSLR and a 50mm prime...

Last edited by Adrian Tan; January 2nd, 2013 at 07:32 PM.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 05:32 PM   #26
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

By the way, I'm struck that there are trade-offs to Rob's style of shooting, including:

-- staging shots = less natural reactions; also means that you are less invisible than some brides would like. There is a definite market for "natural, candid, unobtrusive", even among the wealthy. We've shot a wedding for an ex Prime Minister's child -- all they wanted was a natural, unstaged capture of their memories of the day.
-- prime lenses = missing many moments. When armed with a prime lens, you sort of learn the trick of positioning yourself in a good spot to capture things as they happen. Bride laughs -- you're already set up with a nice over the shoulder. But it also means that if you're armed with a 50, and something interesting happens on the other side of the room, like father of bride entering and kissing the mother, you've missed it. Or if you're armed with a 100 macro, and a group of people do something interesting close to you, like join hands in a circle and say a prayer, you've missed it. The overall result is a beautiful video, but lacking some of the heart and intimacy that a documentary style might have. That said, Rob does indeed catch many nice moments with his primes, and I do think that Rob's editing style, and the way he uses speeches, does put a lot of emotion into his videos that some other "cinematic" people might be missing.
-- beauty of image = cutting some of the ugly-but-interesting out of the day. Both in the sense of great moments that are flawed image-wise, perhaps because of focus or shake, and in the sense of human reactions, like drunk people doing crazy crap.

Maybe in future people will develop ways -- styles of editing, methods of shooting -- to bridge the documentary/cinematic divide...
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 05:49 PM   #27
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

I guess maybe in the USA brides are prepared to spend $20K on a band...over here she is stressed that the DJ is costing her $1K. I did do a wedding back in October than had a 6 piece band and I was shocked that they were paid a mere $1000 to play for 6 hours. Transport and setup time aside, that means each player made a miserable $166 !! I chatted to the band members and they said they have to compete with a DJ who works solo so that's all they get.

It obvious that different countries and even different states have different markets ..even Perth will attract a lower videography price than Sydney ... the median price here last year was $25K and that's for everything and I think the East Coast was $10K higher. Probably the biggest chunk of of that would be the reception venue and there isn't much left to pay for everything else.

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Old January 2nd, 2013, 07:05 PM   #28
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

Just for fun, here's a rough equipment breakdown for Rob's gear, based on B&H prices (obviously, eBay might be a lot cheaper, and you get things cheaper if you buy them bundled, etc, etc).

-- 3 x MkII bodies @ $2,149 each = $6,447 (can be had used for around $1,500; when first released, I think it was more like $3,500-$4,000). 1 x 7D body = $1,399. Total: $7,846.
-- Memory cards... I actually find I shoot about 200-200GB per wedding on four cameras, going up to 300GB+ if there's some entertainer the couple wants me to record or it's a long Indian ceremony or whatever. And then you have to have enough cards for shooting two weddings in a row. And some spare, just in case, which also allows you to change out cards before important events. I think 20 x 32GB Sandisk Extreme Pro is about right = $2,939 at $149.95 each. (Note: in Australia, these cards are ridiculously expensive in photo stores -- $349.95 each... unbelievable... Do they not realise there's a thing called the internet?)
-- Batteries. I find I go through 25 batteries on an average wedding, but maybe I overshoot and should also turn the cameras off more between events. Anyways... 25 x $57.95 = $1448.75.
-- 3 x Manfrotto BHDV-1 = $749.85.
-- Tripods. I actually have a feeling Rob's skimped on these. Doesn't look like his tripods have level adjustment -- you have to fiddle with the legs instead, which is freaking annoying! But maybe also he uses such tripods because they're much lighter and easier to pack. But let's say they're $500 each = $1,500.
-- Glidecam 4,000 with vest --$2,491.
-- Kessler crane: $500 for a basic one.
-- Cinevate FLT 26" DSLR slider = $579.
-- Lenses. I'm not sure exactly what his lens configuration is, whether each shooter has a set of primes or not. I think it's at least: 24mm (which he also uses on steadicam; $1,699), 35mm ($1,379), 50 f/1.2 ($1,479), 85 f/1.2 ($1,999), two x 135 ($999 each), two x 70-200 f/2.8 version II ($2,399 each), 100mm macro IS ($1,049). Total cost: $14,401. (Maybe more, maybe less; depends on which version of the lenses he's got and how many.)
-- Audio. Roland R-44: $1095. Roland R-05 x 3 = $597. Tram TR-50 x 3 = $689.85. Shure SM57 = $99. Shure SM58 = $99. Auxiliary gear (cables, XLR splitter, adapters, deadcats, boom poles, batteries, memory cards) = $400. Videomic Pro x 3 = $687. Quality headphones: $100. Total = $3,766.85, which really isn't bad at all.
-- Two x Arri 650 fresnels ($379 each) + stands (let's say $100 each) = $958. Add another $200 for bulbs and spare bulbs and fuses = $1,200.
-- Carrying bags = depending on how budget he's gone... If you start to buy $350 Lowepro rolling cases and tripod cases, the costs just add up. To carry his gear, he'd need at least one rolling case, one audio backpack, two big tripod cases, one of which has the lights. So he could easily have spent $1,400. Let's say it's $1,000.
-- Other random bits and pieces, including lens cleaning stuff, quick release plates, spare lens caps: $200.

TOTAL: $38621.45, which isn't that bad at all! If you wanted an equivalent kit, and you were starting from nothing, I think it would take you 2 or 3 years to get to Rob's level and start making a decent profit.

I'm sure I've left out different things... Maybe he has a timelapse device, for instance; and he said he uses ND filters. And excluding cost of computers and software. And no doubt you could save a fair bit if you wait for free shipping and shop around for used equipment...

By the way, with the sort of money he's charging, I really wonder how long he's going to resist the pull of the Mk3 -- with it's better low light ability, longer recording times, dual card slots, headphone jack, and quickly declining price tag...

Last edited by Adrian Tan; January 2nd, 2013 at 09:57 PM.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 07:27 PM   #29
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

I imagine whether you are in Belgium or Sydney or Perth, a market for what you do and what you want to make can be created. It's about distinguishing yourself from the pack and clearly articulating your value. Sounds easy when you say it like that... :-) but Rob could do what he does with video camera or a much more modest kit. The brides that hire him aren't necessarily looking for long form coverage and he says that from the outset. He spends a lot on audio because thats what is critical. I haven't necessarily drank the koolaid but I thought the info was valuable. I remember Adam Forgione talking about the market in New York and how it was just aweful and he had to jump in and create a demand for what he does. I think he has. Rob's training was definately worth $99 :-)
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 08:13 PM   #30
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Re: CreativeLive Wedding Cinematography Course

My God is it worth $99. I'd be willing to pay $1,000 or $2,000. Though I also think that almost every suggestion he makes -- of gear, of shooting method, etc -- is to be found somewhere in this forum if you read long enough.

One thing that impressed me, by the way, about Rob's 20-minute films (for instance, Wesleyan Social) is that they are solid "storytelling", solid craftsmanship, and not reliant on flashiness.

I've seen dress shots in videos where the videographer has put the dress on a mannequin next to a pond, and, using a remote rotating head on a jib, cranes up from the reflection and rotates at the same time to reveal the dress -- that's arguably a bit ostentatious. A bride said to me recently she doesn't want any "fake, sweeping shots" in her video.

Rob's stuff, in comparison -- the overall tone fits the day, and, to use the Rob term, it's sequence, sequence, sequence, with each shot of the sequence well composed. It's a repeatable method. Even if you're having an off day, you're not just hunting around looking for random interesting shots (which has often been my tendency in the past).

Last edited by Adrian Tan; January 2nd, 2013 at 09:55 PM.
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