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Old March 31st, 2004, 12:23 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: New Jersey
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Funeral Video, HELP!

Hello all.
Today, well Tuesday I was asked to shoot a video of a funeral. They bury the decesed on Friday.
I have my own ideas as to what to capture.
Is there any advice thay some of you pros have for me?
This will actually be my 1st paid gig, although I am shooting a wedding in may.
Have any of you done such work. Even if you haven't, I'm sure that you can steer me in the right direction.

More info.
I do not have a contract. I used to work witht the daughter in law of the deceased. Should I put something in writing (what) or should we move forward without one? Dumb question?
My friend and I will be using 2 XL1s'.
1 Xl1s is standard and the other XL1S has
Wide angle lens
Shootgun mic and good windscreen.
2 decent tripods
1 Sennheizer Evolution 100 series (wireless system)
1 video light
I'm reluctant to use a video light in the church, but I don't know how dark the church may be.

I thought about getting to the church and getting as much B Roll as posible.
I thought of the use of timelapse while people start to arrive and sit down until right before the service. (thoughts)
I thought of shooting the hurst, limo driving off and arriving at the cemetary.
And finally I thought about a photo montage with the audio from the organ played at the church (client request)

The agreed upon price was $500 and the client was told that it would take approx one month to edit. Is this too long?
Bernard Diaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 31st, 2004, 01:23 AM   #2
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vallejo, California
Posts: 4,049
You will really earn your $ on this one.

I've only done one and it was a 3 day affair. 2 hours each day. I had 1.5 hours notice before the start of the first ceremony.

They wanted to see all the attendees, speakers and reasonable shots of the casket, flowers and deceased. This was at the Funeral Home.

Next day at the church, I did not use lights as my PD150's are good enough. Captured speakers, attendees, casket, special occurences like the family around the casket.

Next day started at the church and moved to the cemetery. Captured the speakers and the procession into the hearse.

Then captured the arrival of the funeral party and the movement of the casket to the gravesite. Captured attendees, family, speeches, family reaction (Mother tried to throw herself into the grave, women all screaming) and lowering of the casket into the ground.

I was uncomfortable capturing some of the footage but afterward, the daughter came up to me and made certain that I got all of the anguish.

I made a single VHS copy of 12 hours of taping and gave that and the DV originals to the family. I wonder if they ever watched the tape.
Mike Rehmus
Hey, I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel!
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Old March 31st, 2004, 01:54 PM   #3
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We are going thu this now. My Grandpa dies yesterday and will be buried on Friday. It has been a surreal experience. I have mixed emotions about shooting a funeral. Now that I am going to be part of one I think I am not one to shoot at someone's.

I have seen way to much death in my 24 years. Capturing the final resting place can be ok if done tastefully. It could be relaxing. I don't want final memories of my Grandpa to be him laying in a box.

I also understand you have to pay the bills. Im just not sure this kinda gig is for me.

Your setup sounds good for the shoot. Try to see if you can get the light streaming into the dark church for some good effect. That and the time lapse would be great.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old March 31st, 2004, 09:15 PM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Osaka, Japan
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sorry to hear about your loss, but I know what you are going through. My father died 9 years ago and my brother and I filmed the funeral, it was the hardest filming I ever had to do, but also the most rewarding.

His grandkids were too young to really know what was going on so pretty soon I'll show them the footage. Also we had a friend of my dad's who is a sculptor make a deathmask of him and so I filmed that as well.

I would suggest maybe having one done for your grandfather. Just contact a local college art department to find some art students who know how to make them. Years from now it will be nice to have the deathmask, you can see and feel how his face actually was. I guess most people don't think of a deathmask but we are really glad we had one made.

Bernard, you might also in the future include having a deathmask made for an extra charge, or include it in part of the package. I'm surprised funeral homes don't offer that service, maybe some do but the one we took our dad to didn't and they seemed confused when we mentioned we were going to make one.

Good luck shooting the funeral.
ChorizoSmells Video
Barrio Tamatsukuri, Osaka, JAPAN
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Old March 31st, 2004, 10:54 PM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions fellas.
You all shed some light on the subject. You really made me think of things I hadn't concidered.
Mike, I see that you captured some powerfull footage at the cementary. Using a PD 150 is not as intrusive as an XL1S.
How close were you to the casket?
Concidering the size of my XL!s', is it wrong for me to want to give the family and relatives some space and shoot from a distance? or should I get right up there when they lower the casket? The later concerns me as I don't want the friends and relatives to think that I'm encroaching.
I'm thinking about having a photo montage at the end of the video. This way the last image that they will see wil not be the lowering of the casket, but a photo of the person in health.
Aron, sorry for your loss. I'm not really doing this for the money but for the exprerience. Great idea about the light streaming into the dark church! Lets see if the weather cooperates.
Rik, Thanks for such innovative idea. Who knows what the future holds.
Additional commets or suggestions technical/nontechnical are sincerely appreciated.
Help me give this family the best posible remembrance.
Thank you.
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Old April 1st, 2004, 12:34 AM   #6
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Bernard: I did not think you were doing this just for money. A job is a job some might say. I figure this is a real hot button when mentioned to people. I have talked to a few people I know today since reading this post and have had mixed reactions accross the board.

Most people I talked to were repulsed by the idea. The others were ok with it. It's a good thing to talk about. For some it makes sence.

I asked my Mom today if she wanted the biography interview I filmed of him 3 months ago shown at the reception after the funeral. She wasnt sure. In fact I had probally asked at a bad time. She needed to pullover and stop driving. The thought of seeing her father alive and happy again really slammed home. Then it hit me too.

The time I had him on film I will never forget. Just he and I alone for a few hours talking about things no one had heard.

If they had the forethought to shoot a bio, a bio played at the funeral might be good too.
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Old April 1st, 2004, 11:18 AM   #7
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vallejo, California
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At the grave-site we shot from about 20 feet away with one camera, sort of in the corner of the rectangle of people/flowers that surrounded the grave-site. That way we weren't in anyone's way and we had enough distance for the WA adapter to get the main group in its entirety.

A second camera was set high to look through a 'V' made from where two bouquet's came together at the back of the wall of flowers.

We really did not get in anyone's field of view and were not at all obtrusive with the cameras. Sound was limited to on-camera shotguns with wind covers.

I must say that I didn't like doing this but I understood that the deceased was an important church official both here and in his native land. The video was going to be sent 'back home' for those who could not attend.

Each society has differing attitudes towards death and the ceremonies that attend these occasions. In this case, the attitude of the family and, indeed, that entire ethnic society is different from my middle-of-the-road, Nebraska WASP upbringing in the 40's and 50's. Videotaping or even taking pictures of a funeral would be a major upset to my relatives.

Just let the family members guide your activities and ask questions if you are uncertain. I was able to find a church official or a son- or daughter-in-law to answer questions. They were not so emotionally involved and knew the direct family well enough to guide me although the main organizer, the Daughter, gave me directions both before and after each segment of the event.
Mike Rehmus
Hey, I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel!
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