The videographer’s role has grown beyond the simple point and film.
Moments can change everything—even someone else's moment. For Lee Morton, it was watching a wedding video (not his own) with his then-fiancée during what was an otherwise normal vendor-client meeting with a prospective videographer. Morton, who came from a graphic-design background, remembers feeling instantly connected to the onscreen story and oddly nostalgic for a couple he had never met. After booking the company for his own wedding, and feeling a need to unpack this enigmatic pull to the screen, Morton offered his expertise to help the business rebrand in exchange for answers to all the questions he was dying to know. Mainly, how did they do that? After two days of intense technical conversations and a myriad of days spent shadowing on set, Morton was convinced—he wanted to be the man behind the lens, making art that "mattered to people.."
He experimented with different techniques until he found something worthy of The Story. Fast forward six months and Morton found himself sitting in a Starbucks in a mix of panic, peace, and caffeinated buzz. He had quit his day job to pursue his own major moment.
Morton's adventerous spirit is shared by all the team members of Clickspark, which Morton founded, and now encompasses a handful of dedicated artists including a full-time editor and a full-time second shooter/editor/storyteller, plus other regular subcontractors. He prides himself and his team on their relentless desire to tell stories better, to go back and rethink their approach. Morton attributes the elevated quality of wedding videos to a shift toward more cinematic features in the industry. "Wedding videos are moving in a different direction, for the good," he says. "They're more valuable because more journalistic-type filmmakers are taking on your big day and capturing so many natural unfolding moments that you most likely miss. It's cinematography. You're filming like a movie, so camera placement, depth of field, and audio could never be more relevant." Says Morton, "It's not your mama's wedding VHS anymore."
Q: What do you feel is your role on a couple's wedding day?
A: Our role is to capture the emotion of the day, and there are many mini-stories of the day that help fulfill that. Together, we see that as story. It's our role to capture the moments you missed or can't remember. It's our role to have fun with the photographer to document this day. It's our role to film your day in certain ways so you can feel it all over again, for decades.
Q: What should be number one on a good videographer's agenda?
A: The number one agenda item is the relationship with the couple: knowing what they're really stoked about, what's unique about the day, and how we can tell that story creatively. A few more elements that are right up there are logistics, audio engineering, and having fun with the photographer.
Q: How many videographers are usually on-site to film a wedding?
A: Typically two or three. Having a team capturing different angles is wedding cinema and basic storytelling—we need the action and the reaction. Achieving both is what makes great wedding films.
Q: About how long is a completed wedding film?
A: We offer a raw documentary of the day that's between one and two hours long with a hand-crafted, creative film ranging from seven minutes to 20 minutes. What's important for brides to know with length is that quantity of minutes doesn't equal value—sometimes the best stories are told in less time.
Q: Why should someone hire a videographer?
A: What will film capture that photographs cannot? Let's face it: Great, creative, photojournalistic photography is so precious. To us, cinema offers another way to feel the day, to hear the day. Cinema allows you to relive amazing stories from your maid of honor, your officiant, the best man who has had one too many, watching your mom zip you up, then turn and see you for the first time. What about when your dad sees you? He will forget his words when he sees his little girl, but we won't.
Q: How many hours does a typical videographer contract cover?
A: We offer eight, 10, and 12. We want to be there for most of the day to tell a great story. I love the prep when folks prepare with their best friends—all the way to the fist-pumpin' reception dancing. The whole day is the story, and those unscripted moments—besides the first kiss, cake-cutting, and your first dance—are ones that we think folks cherish because of cinematography.
Q: How long does the editing process take?
A: It depends on your backlog and the length of the creative film. For us, it's typically six to 12 weeks. Sometimes it takes longer because we fail. Weird to say, right? With our creative films, we take risks in telling the story creatively, like a puzzle, and sometimes it doesn't pan out. But we're committed to not settling for the same template as the last. How can we make this film different while staying true to the story of the couple? We ask that question weekly and challenge ourselves in finding the answer.
Q: For a couple that isn't well-versed in film techniques, how would you describe the different styles of filming? What is your particular style?
A: There are different types to fit everyone's needs. There are vintage-y (hand-held, organic movements, not directed), old school (shoulder cam, interviews guests, no depth of field), cinematic (shots are smooth, movie-like, dialog interwoven), and beauty-films (focus on creative/glamor shots, smooth, directed). Our style is translucent. Our style is collaborative. We're photojournalistic in the sense that we always try to position ourselves ahead of pivotal moments. We're cinematic in our imagery, movement, and angles.
Q: From your perspective behind the lens, what are the most special moments to capture on film?
A: We love when great audio and imagery intersect—creating moments like when dad sees his little girl for the first time. Or when the groom whispers to his new wife in the chapel sitting down during mass, 'You're beautiful.'
Q: What kind of equipment do you usually bring to a wedding?
A: For us, it's camera, audio, and light that we're focused on. We also need to have backups of everyting. At any given wedding, we can have four to six cameras, a dozen or so lenses, etc., but everyting we bring is mobile, small, and unobtrusive.
Q: Do you typically scout out a venue beforehand?
A: We have—it depends on the complexity of the event. We're trained to adapt really well, quickly determine architectural factors, and collaborate on strategy . . . so we include a little time the day of to scout. Taking advantage of your environment is huge. Having said that, we've encountered complex high-profile events where you need advance notice, and we enjoy the preparation.
Q: You refer to yourself and your team as "storytellers." How important is it for you to get to know your clients before their wedding day?
A: So important. A really engaging, authentic film is achieved by being friends with the couple, knowing what means a lot to them and who they are beyond the tux and white dress.
Q: Is it true that you get what you pay for with a wedding film?
A: When making a decision about investing in a wedding film, you will notice the strength of storytelling, the quality of audio, the production value with newest technologies, the natural flow of the film, and the imagery through lenses. Most of all, you pay for the experience of someone who can catch the moments you didn't notice or won't remember. There are different ways to invest in a wedding day: choosing a live band that will rock your party, investing in floral arrangements that complete your vision, maybe treating your guests to a fancier meal than they thought . . . but to us (we're a bit biased!), a wedding film is investing in how you will remember it all and relive it with family for decades. It's said a bajillion times, chances are you won't remember much of your day. Why would you? You're having the time of your life, and time flies when you're having fun.