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

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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:15 AM   #1
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Recent Wedding Film Horror Story

I've seen before that this site is also a great way of sharing horror stories and getting things off your chest so here goes...

A couple of days ago I filmed a wedding for a gorgeous couple on a sunny day, at a lovely little church.
(horror stories always start with a good beginning!)

The priest pulled me to one side when guests were arriving (invaluable shots were missed), and TOLD me not to put my camera ANYWHERE ELSE but where he told me... this was to be behind a church pew at the back of the church, where I could ONLY see the bride, groom and priest (the guests were hidden behind a wall and flowers!). I was basically in a small, segmented hallway next to the church organ player. Believe me, the priest WOULD NOT accept the fact I couldn't use this space to even stand in , let alone put a camera on tripod too. He even suggested I leave my camera there and I sit at the back of the guests during the ceremony!! (and yes, this was just a one-camera wedding due to the smallness of the church)

ok, so i started filming the ceremony (unable to use the camera properly in the tight gap), and then the church organ started playing. It was then that I was VERY QUICK to realise, I was positioned IN THE ORGAN SPEAKER!!

On the subject of bad audio, the groom had (for some unknown reason) moved his giant squid lapel microphone around so much, all you can hear is russling on the audio capture.

When the ceremony FINALLY finished I decided to squeeze past the organ player to follow the couple to the registry signing. NO CAN DO, coz the priest had locked me in, in an interlocking-door scenario!

Outside we eventually go, and the photographer (his first time) literally got in my way EVERY SINGLE time, even after we had chatted about how photographers/videographers should work well together!

We got to the dinner/speeches venue, and let me tell you, it was SO SMALL, the 50 guests were all squeezed into their tables like sardines in a tin! The only possible place I could get to to film the speeches was the tiniest of gaps in the middle of three tables. During filming, 4+ children and 3 waiters each jogged the camera, picked up the tripod, shook the tripod, and held the camera lens to move past. I felt like walking out, especially when the mother of two of the children was laughing at them 'playing', and let them carry on. And yes, I had politely told the children (and their parents) they were disrupting the filming (and 'this camcorder is an expensive one'), but there is only so many times you can do this, before you realise they don't actually care.

Luckily I was filming this wedding as a favour, and in exchange for advertising. I'm EXTREMELY tempted to tell the couple about the lack of co-operativeness from the priest and children/parents in particular, and the fact I am unable to work with my film as a result. I don't want to ruin their day, so I'll word it in a professional way.
What do you all think I should do??

n.b. Don't think i'm giving up....this was obviously just one very unlucky day for me!...other weddings i've filmed have been major successes, thank god.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 04:10 AM   #2
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I have not started doing weddings yet but anyone who appreicates the art of the videographer can appreciate what a frustrating and awkward day that must have been.

Personally I would make the best edit you can, after all, it was a bad gig for you but it was their wedding day. However, I would present your product with the inclusion of a letter \ verbally of how it was made practically impossible to obtain decent footage and list every single example. Camera jogged by waiters x 3 etc etc.

I have been reading this forum for a while now and it seems the videographer sometimes can be the most unappreciated worker \ artist of them all.

Better gigs in the future!
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Old May 7th, 2006, 06:23 AM   #3
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I have your exact same setup, Richard, with the exception of mine being the NTSC version. But, I also have a little handheld Sony Mini-DV camera I use for "B-roll". Well, that little camera has saved me more times than I'd be willing to admit (to the customer). One wedding, I forgot to turn on the Rode Videomic, so the audio to the FX1 was completely dead. I had a little shotgun on the handheld Sony and that's what picked up all the audio. Worked pretty well. Nobody seemed to notice. Now that I have the iRiver/Squid setup, everything's golden.

I feel your pain about the bad wedding day, though. I've had bad run-ins with still photographers, kids, drunken guests, cramped areas, acoustics, many variables. See what you can do to offset the bad audio with just good background music. Even if you just have to do a "highlights" music-type video, that should come across fine.

If your still looking for word-of-mouth advertising, then I wouldn't go too far pointing fingers. Yeah, explain but don't blame. There's not a whole lot that can be done about it now; that's the caveat of event photography. Salvage what you can with the video you've got and let your talent shine. If they squawk, point out the conditions you had to work with, even show them some of the raw footage and what you did with it. I'm sure they'll understand.

Good luck!

Edward Slonaker
El Pilon Productions
San Patricio, Texas
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Old May 7th, 2006, 07:23 AM   #4
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Horror for sure.

I can't believe this is what the priest came up with. Good idea on the music video. Is any of the footage usable for a music video? What is an iRiver/squid, I know of the mp3 player, is the sguid a mic. and how does this set up work.

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Old May 7th, 2006, 07:25 AM   #5
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I feel your pain. Last week, I had a similar situation. Both the church and reception were really tiny venues. I spoke to the priest before filming and he too, told me exactly where to stand. Between the multiple columns in the church, the congregation standing up, and the tiny altar, I knew the priest would pray for me to go to hell! I put my tripod on the altar, a few feet next to him. Then I wheeled my dolly tripod over to the side of the altar for another POV. I figured what could he do if he was in the middle of a sermon?

As for the reception, I had the same exact problem as you. There was no room to get a great view of the speeches. The tables were so packed together. The best place I could have set up, was in front of the kitchen door. But I couldn't. The dancefloor was literally 30 sq feet, and I had to squeeze between dancers at times to get shaky air-shots of the bride with my monopod. I would do it all differently next time.

Was your gig a city wedding? I find the spaces really tiny. When I view clips from other videographers, I'm shocked at how spacious everything is. The freedom to move around makes all the difference.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #6
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thanks everyone for taking time to read my nightmare story, and for easing the pain!!

Ed: haha, that made me laugh, because in the first few minutes, I too had forgotton to turn the Rode Mic on... v.easy to forget when you have priest's demands to deal with!

After playing the footage back today through the viewfinder, I have decided to salvage as best I can, but there will be alot of music overlay! I'm just glad the FX1 shoots so well, i'm impressed everytime I see footage from it!

I will write a letter/email to the couple only if they show signs of not being happy. The funny thing is, I bet they will be happy with anything I give back to them, but that's not the point...the videographer should be respected as after all, we work pretty damn hard and under pressure!
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Old May 7th, 2006, 07:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Richard Wakefield
the priest had locked me in, in an interlocking-door scenario!
That sounds like deprivation of liberty. I would call the police, thus making the priest realise he cannot do such dirty, illegal tricks.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 11:25 PM   #8
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I'm recalling several other thread ideas on the subject of "what to do" that I'll try to sum up (or at least the parts that I use):

(yes, I realize points 1 & 2 can only be accomplished in advance, but something to think about)

1.) If the priest/officiant is limiting your shots - take it to the bride and groom saying: look, this is what the guy is telling me I can and can't do.. Listen to what the priest is saying - and see if any negotiation is possible.. Telling him that a stationary, unmanned camera is unintrusive may go far.. Regardless, the B&G need to be made aware of the limitations that are being placed on you.. How can you expect to get the footage you want if your camera is 50 rows back behind a flower bouquet??

2.) Draft some language in your contract that outlines the difficulties in getting good quality shots..

3.) Since you already have the footage, see what you can recover from it.. As what has been mentioned so far: change the type of video you produce to accomodate the footage you have..

4.) See if the B&G are willing to re-do certain shots that could be used like a storybook-type setting (i.e. dressed up - walking hand in hand - kissing - outside - etc..) If the amount of usable footage is at a minimum - sometimes you can recreate the look using different styles, different sources, different concepts.. It makes the video more contemporary than traditional - but it's a better option than trying to force the footage into your routine and hope it comes out okay..

5.) See if the B&G would be agreeable to put pressure on the photographer to sign over a usage agreement to use the pictures he/she took during the ceremony.. Even if you give the photographer credit in the video - that's free publicity for him - and you have more media to utilize for your final product..

6.) If the photographer is stupid about it -- see if anyone else took pictures and would allow you to use them for the video.. For a family member to see their photographs woven into an impressive video - would be a huge thrill for some..

I hope some of this helps or at least it may lead to other ideas and solutions to your problem..

Best of luck!
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