Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Story About Love

In honor of Valentine's Day, I would like to post an article about the second great love of my life: wedding filmmaking. Laura Moses of Vantage Point Productions wrote this article for Event DV Magazine, and it perfectly conveys what we as filmmakers experience as we strive to create the perfect wedding video for our clients. I know it's a bit long for a blog post, but if you have the time I think it's worth the read.

Love, madness, obsession—this story has it all. It’s mostly about love. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ll never forget the day I was smacked in the head with the value of video. This epiphany didn’t come from something devastating, such as the loss of a loved one. It was rather an ordinary event, but the concussion from its blow was indelible.

I had been shooting video for a few years when I had the unique pleasure of actually being a guest at a wedding that my husband and business partner, Steve, was filming. I remember a huge ballroom, and all the guests at their tables framed the vast expanse of the dance floor for the couple’s first dance.

Viewed outside of a lens, the bride and groom appeared small and insignificant—tiny floating drops surrounded by a sea of noisy and distracting onlookers. Disconnected, I watched this miniature, cake-top couple, feeling like a block of ice as the wind of the air conditioner sent cold chills down the back of my neck.

After Steve edited the footage, my awakening was complete. Could this possibly be the same wedding I watched from the sidelines? It was an entirely different reality. It was an intimate reality of whispers and glances, soft touches and exhales of breath, laughter and warm tears.

This was the turning point—the precise moment that I knew I had to be an editor. The circle became complete and I joined the ranks of wedding and event filmmaker. Then the nightmares began—literally.

As a member of a small, isolated colony, it was inevitable that I would be exposed to certain communal maladies. Nightmares were the first symptom, and my condition became chronic. I routinely spend fretful nights, heart racing, dreaming that I am desperately trying to focus through a viewfinder the size of a pea or attempting to press the record button only to find it has moved to another place on the camera.

Then there’s the recurring nightmare that simmers in our collective subconscious from which there is no immunity: the dream in which we realize with gut-wrenching horror that we have not been recording at all … and the ceremony is almost over.

We videographers suffer from back pain and backlog; and befitting the afflicted, as editors, we live the bulk of our lives in pajamas. We have oversized hearts. Together we congregate sharing moments captured through that extension of ourselves we call a camera, and we weep. We weep for the beauty, the loss, and the sheer life we experience through the portal of our lens, which takes us deep into the lives of others.

Brawny men with bulging, Glidecam biceps, break down like little boys.


And we laugh. We laugh at the antics of the inebriated, the fad-fashion faux pas, the disasters, and all the drama; these are the ingredients that coalesce to create the deliciously, quirky gumbo of humanity known as a wedding.

The lack of a perfect wedding never stops us from pursuing the creation of a perfect film. Neurotically, we obsess over thrilling our clients. Our goal: to prove—once and for all—that a wedding film is priceless.

We will not rest until we enlighten the macrocosm to the magnificent glory of a great video. It’s a long road we tread on this mission, finding success one client and one gig at a time.

As unsung specialists in extreme guerilla filmmaking where each successful production can be compared to a minor miracle, we’re lucky to receive a fraction of the respect and earnings most photographers command. The mainstream has yet to get the memo that this vocation requires us to be expert cinematographers, documentarians, and storytellers, as well as gaffers and audio acquisition and engineering virtuosos.

Though sensitive to a fault, we’re tougher than nails. We have to be. We deliver—despite rain, sleet, snow, or suffocating sauna heat—and we do it while starving. Circumstances rarely allow us the time to eat our stale little “banquet-in-a-box.” Sometimes we’re lucky enough to be provided with an actual vendor’s buffet. But if the band gets there first—which it always does—we go back to work, starving.

Moreover, we work without the luxury of a script, our cast usually shows up late, and our shooting locations can change due to a drop of rain—or the drop of a hat. Under similar conditions, most cinematographers in the motion picture industry would never be able to accomplish what we pull off every weekend. Still, the public and more than a few relatives think our job is easy because we spend it at a party.

What madness has befallen us to choose this profession? Are we clinically insane? Perhaps we are because we’re in love, a separate madness unto itself. We are in love with the rush we get after playing back a sequence that clicks; with the joy of sculpting fractured images into a tangible, cohesive narrative that glows with beauty, life, and light; with delighting our clients; and with the deep-rooted conviction that we are creating something of value.

We work with music, hearts, and dreams. We’re the keepers of the flame for future generations. After we’re gone there will be pieces of us—little bits of our hearts—scattered across the globe, telling stories about love.

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1 comment:

Laura said...

Vanessa,

You are such a talented and dedicated wedding filmmaker, I am truly honored to have my article on your blog. May your career be blessed as you use your talent, love and passion to bring joy to the hearts of others!

Laura