At the age of 16, being a crappy high school student meant that I often found myself daydreaming during class. So whenever the opportunity arose to skip school I always took it.
One time my sister asked me to tag along for a 3-day videography workshop in New York City. At the time she had been a wedding photographer for over a decade and wanted to offer video services to clients. So she purchased two tickets to the workshop and since her husband couldn’t go, I did.
To be honest, I had absolutely no interest in photography and didn’t even know what videography was. But I jumped at the opportunity after finding out that I would be able to skip 3 days of high school to hang out in New York City. I could see it then, my school mates sitting at the cafeteria eating bland food, and me? Eating roasted peanuts and coconuts from a street vendor while standing on a busy New York street corner, people watching and enjoying the beautiful NYC scenery.
On the first day of the class, I remember feeling super uncomfortable. I was still a young introvert and unlike everyone else attending, I had no professional experience and had no interest in the field of photo or video.
On the first day, the teachers got so technical that they actually put me to sleep. After receiving a sharp elbow to my side, by my sister my head sprung forward as I almost leaped out of my seat. Everyone’s eyes staring at me, and the laughter of the instructor, Patrick as I was awoken halfway through a very loud snore. “Sorry, am I boring you?” he asked. After apologizing, he continued with his lesson.
After our lunch break, we all settled in for the second part of the first day. The instructors turned off the lights and with a full stomach I remember thinking, “perfect time to fall back asleep.” So I got comfortable in my seat while the instructors took out a projector and started a video they had put together.
I slouched comfortably in my seat and began to watch my first wedding video. The way the visuals, audio, and music all came together I felt chills as I perked up in the chair. As tears clouded my vision I watched in awe an orchestra of beautiful imagery, music, and audio unravel a love story before me.
When the film finished and the lights came on, I found myself at the edge of my seat overwhelmed with emotions of happiness and love. That single film changed me forever.
At the end of the first day, the instructors put the students into different groups. Our assignment was to use the remainder of our time together to create a film. Not knowing anything about film, I watched as the students in my group fought over the position of director, cinematographer, or editor. The only position that remained was “Audio Engineer”. As you probably guessed, I was the group’s audio-guy.
Each group had an instructor that would teach, and give us pointers during the making of our film.
There was this one scene where we needed a heartbeat sound. So I ran around the room a couple of times, turned on the audio recording device, and pressed it firmly against my throat, you know. the part of your neck that you press to feel your heart beats per minute.
My group won every award from the best cinematography to the best story. The only thing we didn’t win was “best audio”. Honestly, I think it was because we had won in every single category and the judges wanted to give another group a prize. Or maybe another audio guy (or gal) truly did do a better job than I did.
After watching our film on the big screen I was able to see all of our hard work come to life. It inspired me to create a film like that wedding film I had watched on the first day. I knew that it would be possible, but I had no idea how difficult, and how many obstacles I’d have to overcome to be able to create beautiful films. Through many, many years of practice and mistakes, and lessons I have a great understanding when it comes to filmmaking.
Everything from capturing visuals using different cameras, lenses, lights, angles, and, camera movements can enhance a film’s look. Different camera settings can give your video different looks from documentary to a cinematic look. Different lenses can give your viewer a different feel, or invoke a different emotion. A wider angle lens is great for putting the viewer into the scene, whether it’s in a castle for a wedding reception or an abandoned warehouse for a horror flic. The right zoom lens can really capture reactions like a groom seeing his bride for the first time during their ceremony, to a girlfriend’s reaction when her boyfriend asks her to spend the rest of her life with him. Knowledge in lighting a subject can create different moods in any film.
After constant trial and error, a bunch of workshops, and through having different mentors like Rob Adams, With Rob Adams Films, Ray Roman with Ray Roman Films, Glen Eliot with Cord3Films (Ps. Sorry for when I was 18, and I dropped your 70-200mm lens during a wedding.)
A wedding film is what sparked my passion for this industry. However, I enjoy storytelling in general. Even when it comes to making an advertisement, they say “STORY IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE MEANS OF HUMAN COMMUNICATION.” –Still Motion
What this means to me is that whether you’re selling shoes, appliances, Realestate, or own an ice-cream shop, customers like to know the story. Some stories resonate with different viewers and a great video should evoke emotion or a call to action whether that’s checking out a company’s website, purchasing a product, or booking the company for a service. The right video will have people sharing it, and talking about it.