Meet a Wedding Videographer in Detroit, MI

Today’s videographer interview Brittany and Alex of Sculpted Films, based in Detroit, Michigan! Enjoy:

Tell us about your company, how did you get started?

Me (Brittany) and my fiancé (Alex) both went to different liberal arts colleges, Alex studied sculpture (hence the name), animation, and film editing, and I studied creative writing. For two years we lived in New York City primarily working jobs unrelated to our studies – I waited tables and was an urban farmer for an upscale restaurant on the East River while Alex worked at a frame shop in Brooklyn and performed freelance video work on the side. Our schedules were so opposite that we rarely got to see each other and we always talked about how great it would be if we were able to work together and we often spoke of one day owning our own business – an idea that seemed like something far in our future.

Then in December of 2013 we had friends visiting and these friends happen to make up the Michigan indie folk band, Less is More. They were telling us about the 3 ½ month long U.S. tour they were planning on embarking on in the fall of 2014 to promote their first album to which we of course said, “Wow, I wish we could do something like that,” to which they replied (probably jokingly,) “You should come with us!” The more we thought about it the less is seemed like a joke and it started to make a lot of sense – I would get to use my creative writing education for their PR and website copywriting, etc, and Alex would film our journey and make music videos, video blogs, and eventually a documentary of the tour. It seemed like the perfect launching pad into the next phase of our life even though we have no idea exactly what that phase was going to entail. On the road was where we realized how two creative minds are better than one while filming and editing and the prospect of working together as a videography team started to sound not so crazy.

Our chance to work together and work for ourselves came to us much earlier in life than we expected. On January 1, 2015 we officially became an LLC and we filmed our first wedding ten days later. We’ve hit the ground running working on filming more weddings, styled shoots, and promoting our business like crazy and though we are busier than we’ve ever been, it’s different when you are busy working for yourself and every hour that you put in is directly furthering your business and furthering the possibility of us continuing to do what we love.

Read the full interview after the cut!

Mariage de Rêve: Christian + Demi from Sculpted Films on Vimeo.

What are some things couples should look for when looking for a videographer?

Brittany: Look for someone that is not just compatible with your budget, but compatible with you and your fiancé. A wedding day is a strange thing where it is simultaneously so intimate but all eyes are on you and you don’t want any of those eyes (or lenses) to feel like a stranger. Make the time to meet with your videographers in person so you can feel whether the connection is right or not, and so they feel like just another couple guests attending your wedding who happen to have cameras.
Alex: Look at their portfolio and see what other types of work they do – do they film only weddings? have they been filming weddings for 10+ years? do their videos feel personal and unique or do they feel cold or formulaic? If your videographer has been in the business for a really long time, or if they just do wedding videography on the side to their more creative film endeavors, they can sometimes be jaded about wedding films or not be as invested in their wedding work as they are their other artistic work. You want to find a videographer who sees your wedding film as a creative and artistic opportunity, that takes all the personal and distinctive details and moments of your day then edits them in a way that tells your individual love story.

What is your favorite part of the day to capture?

B: The groom’s face when he sees his bride for the first time while she walks down the aisle or during the first look. I cry every time. A close second would be the mother-of-the-bride’s face when she is watching the father-daughter dance. I basically cry just as much, if not more than, your actual guests.

A: The first dance. Everyone always does it, but it’s always different and unique to that couple. It’s a situation that allows us to move around and with the couple without being planted to one spot. All the guests are out of our way for a moment and we can really focus on the bride and groom. It’s a great opportunity to capture some stunning movement and motion.

How do you feel videography has changed in the last few years?

B: I had a wedding planner we worked with in Houston put it like this: “When I was getting married I wanted to make it a priority to invest in quality wedding videography and my dad said, ‘Let me do you a favor and advise you not to get wedding videography. You’ll never watch it and it will just end up being a waste of money.” And I was like ‘No, Dad. Videographers these days seriously make you into a movie star for a day.” Is our goal to make people look like movie stars? Not really, but I imagine it comes across like that because people aren’t used to seeing themselves on camera in such a cinematic way, sometimes they aren’t used to being on camera at all. With the modern technology in the DSLR cameras we use, it’s possible to get footage that has that cinematic look (close up in focus with a blurred background) without big, bulky camera equipment. I think another thing that makes couples feel like they are “movie stars” for a day is that this is their real life and this is their real love. They aren’t used to seeing it portrayed on screen like the beautiful love story that it is. Wedding films are not the full-length-documentary-style-play-by-play of the past (at least ours aren’t.) These days wedding films are focused on not just portraying that day, but portraying the story of that couple, and accurately capturing the atmosphere of that evening and all the special guests that were in attendance celebrating the beautiful result of that story.
A: I think photography has long been the most popular avenue to capture and remember a wedding day and fortunately for us, we are entering this world at a pivotal moment where people are starting to see the value in videography in addition to photography. I know we are probably biased, but for our wedding coming up in September, we will only have videography, no photography. The greatest thing that video can offer that photos can’t, is the opportunity for your family in the future to be able to see and hear you and your guests and feel as if they were there that day.

Jason + Freda from Sculpted Films on Vimeo.

Do you have advice for wedding videographers just starting out?

B: I feel like we’re the wedding videographers just starting out, I don’t know if I have much wisdom to bestow at this point!
A: Getting started is the hardest part, so getting yourself out there should be top priority. Before you can invest in a good website or advertising you have to be able to show what you can do. We definitely did our fair share of free/pay-what-you-can weddings just to show people what we are made of so then we actually had something visual to sell rather than just an idea and some experience.

If you were to make a blooper reel, what moment that you’ve captured would make us laugh the most?

B: Most of the time what would be in a blooper reel still makes it’s way into the final cut because it was something special that happened that made that day unique. Will it make it into the highlight film that gets shared all over Facebook? Probably not, but it would be in the feature length edit for the couple to look back and laugh on. When we film weddings we attach a lavalier microphone to our groom’s lapel so we can clearly pick up audio of the officiant and the vows. Alex and I were listening to the audio we picked up from a wedding in Houston while our bride and groom were walking back down the aisle after just being married and we heard all the adorable whispering between the two of them about how they couldn’t believe they were finally married, etc.

Then suddenly, there were some expletives from our groom as he realized that soon to come during their reception was their highly choreographed first dance that they had been practicing for months. Our bride chastised him for cursing not only in a church, but on recorded audio, to which he said, “Don’t worry, they’re not going to use this audio anyway.” Next came some murmurs, giggles, and counting as they, just the two of them in the empty bride’s room of the church, practiced their first dance. And it was beautiful, so sorry, Pete, that’s making its way into the final cut! Probably sans expletives.

A: One time our groom and his groomsmen were accidentally given the ladies’ corsages to put on instead of their boutonnieres. They were huge and after 10 minutes of trying to figure it out, they successfully tied them through the hole in their lapel. “I think there’s usually some sort of needle involved in this right?” When the wedding planner came in with the actual boutonnieres it all made much more sense. “Oh this has to be in the video,” our groom said.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

B: Fear! When I am on the job filming a wedding, I am constantly in fear of some fluke that causes us to either miss something huge or lose footage of something important. Camera equipment can mess up or break every now and then or there can be traffic between the preparation and the ceremony, etc. To me it seems like there are so many things that could go wrong. When a couple has trusted the live memory of their day to us, I take that very seriously and am on the ball as much as I can to try and protect that day from any of those chances. Once we have successfully finished collecting all that footage I can breathe a sigh of relief, but then, hard drives are very fragile pieces of equipment and it is a real possibility that the one gets bumped or dropped and loses its contents. That’s why we back up all of our wedding footage. Twice.

A: Getting quality audio. There is often music, or background noise muddying up what’s being said and we can’t have a lavalier microphone sttached to everyone. Fortunately we have capturing quality audio for the major events down between lavalier mics, shotgun mics, or portable audio recorders. All the unscheduled little moments and interactions we just have to rely on our shotgun mic and accept that there will be some background noise.

Any advice for couples?

B: Just relax and enjoy your day! Just kidding, every bridal advice column is going to tell you that and whether or not “relaxing” on your wedding day is possible for you is largely up to your personality. I have two pieces of advice and I’m going to be real.

  1. Get wedding videography. I do not care if it is with Sculpted Films or any other quality wedding videographer, but just do not cheat yourself of that. For some reason I think wedding videography seems to be one of the most expendable of the multitude of wedding expenses and I can completely understand the urge to knock a few thousand dollars off your wedding bill, but do not cut out the one thing that is going to let you remember all the details you spent that money on and all the ways in which your guests experienced and enjoyed them. Cut out the personalized flip flops for people to dance in, cut out the photobooth (your professional photographer is fully capable of taking silly pictures too!) but please do not cut out what will let you relive it all over again, what will let your grandchildren experience it as if they were there. Just do a quick Google search and you will find the number one post-wedding regret is that they didn’t get videography. And take a quick look at our page of reviews to see couples attest to choosing to invest in videography was the best decision they could’ve made for their wedding. You put so much time into all the planning, the details, the experience, and (as I’m sure you’ve been told hundreds of times) it’s over in a flash – but it doesn’t have to be.
  2. You do not want raw footage. With digital cameras these days, footage is no longer one big strip of physical film, but rather hundreds of small digital video clips and that is why we have to edit them together. We collect anywhere from 5-10 hours of footage during your wedding day, but there are two of us with two cameras so that’s actually 10-20 hours of footage and it requires lots of back up hard drive space to store them and it requires special computer programs and capacity to even be able to read them. Often times raw footage will include a shot of the ground as we walked from one position to another, or five different angles of the cake as we try to get it just right. When we edit for a final feature length film, we are only cutting out what is absolutely not viable footage, and then we piece it together to make chronological sense. I think a lot of times people ask for raw footage because they think we are going to cut out things like Grandma dancing. We would never dream of cutting out Grandma dancing! But if you don’t trust that your wedding videographer will prioritize what’s important to you in your wedding film, then you might want to find another videographer with whom you have more confidence.

A: On that note, communicate with your videographers about anything and everything that is important to you to be in your film. Feel free to send us samples of wedding videos you’ve seen and loved. Feel free to send us a list of guests that are most important to be on film. Don’t be afraid to let us know if you have something in mind for your film that you’ve never seen before. We are always willing to try and work with you and your fiancé to give you the best result. The more information and communication, the better.

Great work, thanks for sharing! For more information about Sculpted Films, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to their website.

Do you have any questions for Brittany or Alex? Add them to the comments below!