10 Valuable lessons on “Making It”

I just got an epiphany today. After having my java bean, mocha iced coffee (during the ice storm!) I realized that making movies and wedding videography is all about telling compelling stories. If you know how to tell good stories, then you can make videos that can have an emotional impact on your customers.

I thought it’d be cool to share what I learned from my mentor in college, who was a prominent Hollywood producer. Here are ten valuable lessons on storytelling in movies:

  1. Take classes on storytelling. Whether it is for screenplays or writing novels, it’s good to actually have the technical know-how on how to construct a cohesive story. Learn how to construct a great opening, a compelling middle and a kick-in-the behind ending that will make the viewer remember your video for a long time.
  2. Be prepared for failure and rejection. Trying to make it into Hollywood or for any entertainment niche, it’s hard. It’s probably the hardest thing anyone can try to attempt. There are many competitors and there are many obstacles in the way. It’s good to know before you begin that it’s going to be a long, hard process and to never give up on your hopes and dreams!
  3. Give yourself an hour of self-pity. Building upon point #2, we’re not man (or girl) of steel. We are human. We must take time to cry it out or as Julia Roberts say in “Pretty Woman” veg it out in front of a TV. It’s a form of letting your frustrations and fear out of you. Get your mind straight so you’re ready to get back in the game.
  4. Experiment with different things. We all get stuck on page 45 every now and then. Instead of plowing through with mediocre writing, put the screenplay down. Try something else like painting or joining a Meetup group on screenwriting. Heck, make Youtube videos about screenwriting or making films. Do something different. This broadens your perspective in life and exposes you to different things that you can write about in your screenplay.
  5. Network and develop relationships. In Hollywood and life in general, it’s about who you know and not what you know in most cases. Especially in Hollywood, even if you write the next “War and Peace”, no one will care if no one is willing to fund your movie or documentary. You need powerful friends in Hollywood because as I stated before it’s a competitive industry and everyone’s building a network of contacts to get their ideas funded and backed. So you should too.
  6. Learn to laugh and have a good sense of humor. This will help you deal with #2. You will have many rejections and naysayers. It will be easy to give up and put the keyboard down (or smash it through a window), but it’s important to keep going. Having a good sense of humor will help you deal with hard times.
  7. Key to cinematography is to have fun. We’re all into making videos or making art because we love it. Don’t forget the number one rule is to always have fun doing what you’re doing. If you’re not enjoying it, then why bother continuing. Life is too short.
  8. Don’t neglect life over business. Yes, it’s tempting to take that writing job to write about “Porn Stars and Aliens from Neptune” but really is it worth it? Unless you love porn and have a weird affinity with A.L.F. from Neptune, it’s not worth degrading yourself to write or make videos about stuff you care nothing about. Think about what inspired you to write in the first place. Is it because of a lost loved one? Is it because you have cool friends and think you can create the next great sitcom? Remember the things in life that inspired you and let that be the main driver for your art. Never let your choices be dictated by how much money you can make by writing “Porn Stars and Aliens from Neptune.”
  9. Spend money on film festivals. This goes with #5 very well. Again, the filmmaking business is all about who you know. Getting into festivals or even just starting a Youtube channel is worth your time. It’s important to get your stuff out there. Get it critique. Build a following. Gain followers. In time, people will come seeking for you because they will love the stuff you are writing and producing.
  10. Always have passion. This goes again with many points in this David Letterman-esque Top 10 list. Don’t ever succumb to the lure of money in Hollywood. Do it because you love it. If you do this, you will succeed in making movies, writing screenplays or making a living off cinematography.

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It’s been frustrating trying to make it as a cinematographer in New York. This is what inspired me to remember and record what my college mentor taught me. I thought this would be useful for all my fellow NYC videographers, filmmakers, screenwriters and artists out there.

Making Money as NYC Cinematographer

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I was at my favorite coffee shop the other day, and I came across this other guy who wanted to become a full-time cinematographer like me. We’re both recent film grads and really hit it off because we both agreed how hard it is to make money as a filmmaker in NYC. What he did tell me was try to make money off weddings. Check out their awesome content here:

2Bridges Productions

Here’s a recent wedding they shot at the Botanical Gardens in Bronx, New York City:

I think I’m going to give this wedding thing a shot. I do have fancy cameras just sitting around in my living room. Although Daddy was nice enough to buy all this stuff for me, I still gotta learn how to use it and make cinematic videos:

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So for anyone looking to hire a wedding cinematographer – think of me! So that was my disclosure of who I am, and now I’m going to give free advice to my potential customers.

How to Make a Cinematic Wedding Video

Conversing with your wedding videographer is extremely important to get the video recording that you would like. Discuss the theme of your wedding and what occasions are important for you. If you’re buying a cinematic or movie like effect, make sure to avoid any talk about plain camera placement – you will need those cameras in real time for shooting your entire day as it naturally unfolds. Ensure that your wedding videographer can attend your rehearsal or at least he knows its location, and the positioning of your reception, well beforehand – it’s essential for planning the shooting of event. Here in this article you will find valuable information about How to Make a Cinematic Wedding Video.

It is not just the video but the Movie

Typically, the most popular kind of wedding videography is the cinematic wedding video, which eventually ends up looking similar to a brief film or movie. It is sometimes taken with only 1 camera but often with two or more. While one cameraman targets filming the marriage from start till end, the other wedding videographer is capturing different footage including interviews and other shots that are later found in the production for making of a far more artistic finished product. They are more costly and could involve many editing to be able to create the required effects of a far more cinematic or movie style creation.

The wedding industry has evolved completely. Several trends have been introduced in the marriage video industry during the last ten years. It has witnessed Great deal of changes and advancements. From many documentary videos of long duration to a brief cinematic film. I believe the DSLR trend  has played a significant role in for this revolution.

What you should think about to make your video stand out:

  • Content is king: Videographers must work on the content of wedding videos. What content should be there in the finished product becomes important. If it’s a candid picture taking, we can continue capturing it during special occasions. However when it comes to film, you must have an outline prior to wedding starts.
  • Strategy:  This is one of the most important stages for Cinematic Wedding Video as well as wedding itself. Whether you just need photographs or regular videos or creative wedding film – we have to plan beforehand about how we are going to shoot and what exactly are the events that will be covered. It certainly is better to talk to the wedding organizers or you can talk to your friends about the most important events directly, including their timings and just how they carry out.
  • Tools: This determines how your cinematic wedding video is going to appear. We didn’t want to skip the content we wanted for the film. You’re gonna want cool cameras like this.
  • Post edit magic: This is when you’ll need Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or other high end editing tools. You can have amazing footage but it’s in the edit where the magic happens. This is where you can turn ordinary home videos into cinematic films that people pay top dollars for.

Shots that should be included in a wedding video:

Shot 1: Bride-to-be and Bridesmaids getting ready

What’s the feeling of the dressing room? Is everyone tense? Anxious? What they are wearing? So how exactly does it have an impact on the ambiance of the area?

Shot 2: Bridegroom and Groomsmen getting ready

Is the style of location is Stoic? Funny? What’s the feeling between son and his parents? It will be an enjoyable experience to catch an alternative side of Father. Check out what my friendly cinematographer shot:

Shot 3: Excitement about Pre-Ceremony 

Many times this occurs whilst getting ready, it comes right before the wedding ceremony, but there’s always a point where in fact the day truly becomes crucial to the groom and bride, and you may feel it in the air. You cannot predict what will happen any time, but it’s much easier to capture if you are keeping an eye out for the right moment. Talk about it to your wedding videographer.

Shot 4: Marriage ceremony and the Reception

These brief occasions are the most unique to you and your wedding. This is an enjoyable experience to go over particular events, personal touches, and the theme of your wedding.

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Here’s a comprehensive list of must shots for a wedding:

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That’s a lot of shots, but then again that’s why you pay top dollar for your wedding guy (or gal!) to shoot your wedding.

Why Choose Me as Your Wedding Videographer!

First, its important to have open communication with your camera person. That person has to be truthful and have full disclosure about their services. I’ve shown you above that I do care about your wedding and I am always available to chat!

I charge a base $800 for just the raw footage and the other cool cinematic stuff we can negotiate. No wedding is too big or too small. Even if you have 1,000 guests I can get others to help me out, like my buddies here.

I’m still working on my website, but I do have a blog (follow me!). I’m not just anyone with a camera. I’m actually someone who wants to shoot a kick-ass cinematic wedding video that you can cherish for a lifetime.