Have you ever wondered how all those clowns fit in that tiny little clown car? I have often wondered this myself, is it just an illusion or are all those clowns really in there? I think it’s that kind mystery and magic that drew me into film making? One of my favourite parts of film making is figuring out HOW DID THEY DO THAT? I have spent countless hours watching behind the scenes documentaries on some of my favourite movies, this makes me a bit of a nerd I know, but I sometimes find the bonus features are better than the movie. When I started making my own films and telling my own stories I started to realize that I too have some secrets to tell. I might not be important enough to have a large film crew follow me around and make a documentary but I can do the next best thing….. Write a blog post about it!
We take every shoot very seriously, when we get a chance to film something we fully understand that the people who hired us are trusting us with a huge responsibility. No shoot has more pressure and more responsibility than a wedding. When we plan our wedding shoots we think about every detail and we always make sure to ask ourselves WHY? Why use a slider? Why use a steady cam? Why use a monopod? These questions are asked before every shoot we go on. A few other important “W” words that we ask ourselves are WHO and WHERE? This brings us to Karen and Tony. Karen and Tony were getting married on Christmas Eve and they were eloping. They were going to get married at one of our favourite venues in the whole world “The Rockwater Secret Cove”. I have shot there before and this is one of the most intimate and romantic venues on earth. So after few conversations on the phone with Karen I learned that they planned on getting married in their room on the balcony over looking over the ocean. They also were not going to have any family there, it was just going to be the two of them, talk about a intimate day, WOW! I was so down for this one!
So after a few more chats with Karen I took all the info and started to think about how to approach this wedding shoot. The whole thing seemed super private, and super intimate so lets start with the most obvious question, how many people should shoot this wedding? Well, every shoot starts with a crew, not every shoot is the same, it all depends on the situation and how to best tell the story. So what is the best way to tell this story? Since the whole thing is happening in their room and since it’s going to be very private I thought having multiple cinematographers in the room could really take away from the intimacy of this elopement. Also after having several conversations with them and getting to know the kind of people they are I figured that this shoot was going to be very personal and all about the subtle moments they will share together. There was no reason why I couldn’t shoot this on my own. So I guess this is going to be a SOLO shoot, LET”S DO THIS!
With all that being said there are a few questions to ask yourself… 1. How am I going to get all the angles I need? 2: How ill I be able to film and deal with the sound? 3. How can I get maximum coverage with just one of me? Well it all comes back to the clown car and the magic of film making! Since it was just going to be me I needed to come up with an approach that would work well for the story, I needed to be cleaver and most importantly I needed to make sure that I had a plan. To sum it up, the plan needed to involve myself doing everything, sound, lighting, camera, second camera and third camera. I needed to be a film making Ninja!
When I arrived the first thing I did was shoot some B Roll. I got to the venue nice and early which gave me the extra time I needed to shoot some really helpful sync shots. After that I headed up to the room to plan exactly where I would be shooting the Ceremony. I decided that I would have 3 camera’s 2 on tripods and 1 on a monopod. These 3 angles would provide me with a ton of coverage and since I was also on a monopod it also provided me with the flexibility to move around and be prepared if something in the moment happened that I was not expecting.
I placed one tripod on our Bride, Karen, in a very tight close up. The reason for this is that I had read her vows ahead of time and knew that she would be saying some really personal things. I wanted to be tight on her to bring the audience in to the story. I also knew that Karen was not going to move around a lot, however, Tony might. I had spent most of the morning with them and filmed her helping him put on his tie. I learned a lot about the way they both interact here and from this I realized Tony was the emotional one which made me aware that he will probably get emotional reading his vows during the Ceremony. Sure enough Tony did get very emotional and I was happy I made the decision to be manning the monopod on his side of the lens. For the third shot I had a camera facing them in a wide shot which helped proved more coverage and since it was wide there was no chance they would fall out of frame. Once the ceremony begin I quickly turned on the camera’s and we were good to go! It was like I had 3 Cinematographers but it was just me! Maybe the clown car thing was an illusion after all…..
When it came to capturing the sound I needed to be a one man wrecking crew! I needed to plan in advance who was going to talk and when should I mic them up. During the prep I put a mic on Karen, then when Tony left to go get a drink while she got ready, I put a mic on him. This way when he came back for the first look and the ceremony I did not need to fumble around and put a mic on him, it was already done. Basically when they had there first look, he just walked up to her and I very cleverly had them both mic’d up. They never had to stop or do anything for me, everything just happened naturally. Taking care of these things in advance allowed the story to just unfold and they were both very natural and real throughout!
The reason I shot this film solo was not because my other cinematographer slept in, or because I wanted a challenge. The reason I did it was because having too many people there would have not worked for the story, and it would have made them feel like they were being filmed. The reason for just myself was the same reason for everything, it was the best decision for the story and at the end of the day that is all that matters!
Music: Luca Fogale – The Way We Are – Licensed through www.communitytreemusic.com