5 secrets to finding a great wedding filmmaker

What are some of the best secrets to finding the best filmmaker for your wedding?

So much of the choice is a matter of your personal taste and the studio’s production style. Once you’ve viewed their work — and of course met them to make sure your personalities fit — here are five tips — or secrets, if you will — to figure out if they’re the right team to capture what is undoubtedly one of the busiest and exhilarating  moments of your married lives together.

I’m also including at least one question or more from each tip to ask any wedding videographer.

As a bonus, we’re highlighting one of our favorite Sneak Peeks from this year as an inspiration that will show how these secrets play out in real work! (Thanks to Alyssa and Joe for taking the journey with us!)

Secret No. 1: They Must Be Professional

Why is it so important to hire a team with experience in weddings? As someone who has filmed more live events than I can count, I can tell you that no matter what plans you’ve made, many things will conspire to get in your way.

A qualified and experienced wedding videographer will be able to handle whatever happens whether the bus carrying the wedding party breaks down or a groomsman is chewing gum or if a key piece of equipment fails. We’re used to rolling with the punches, and having backups so that we can persevere to get the shots and audio that will be cherished forever.

Questions to ask: Is this your primary job or something you do as a hobby on the weekends to make extra money? How many weddings have you filmed? Have you ever not finished a project?

Secret No. 2: They Have Proper Gear

A great videographer that is committed to getting full coverage will have at least three cameras for the ceremony. At a minimum they should capture high definition video and can record in 4K, should the need arise. A competent filmmaker will have an array of lenses that will allow them to get wide, medium and tight shots without being intrusive to the action. If you ever see a videographer three feet from the couple at the alter, I’d venture to say they have not been trained properly and don’t have the right gear.

It’s critical for reception toasts and first dances, and a solid video team will have a mini spotlight for both uses. Lastly, audio. It’s one of the trickiest components of a wedding videographer’s skills, and your videographer should have enough mics and recorders to cover the groom, bride, officiant and toast-givers.

Trust me, it’s a lot of gear, and we haven’t even addressed supports and gimbals and drones. But gear is what allows wedding videographer to get footage that can rival what you see on a movie screen. And it’s also why a quality wedding videographer charges a significant price. But we’ll explore that in another post.

Questions to ask: How many cameras do you operate? What happens if you break one of your lenses or cameras? What steps do you take to get great audio capture?

Secret No. 3: They Are Not a Movie-Mill

What’s a movie mill? It’s a studio that will book as many — sometimes hundreds — of weddings per year, sending out several crews of freelancers to cover them. Often with that kind of studio, you become a name and number.

A high-quality video studio will take only as many weddings as they can comfortably film and produce, without outsourcing, and you’ll notice it in the quality of the film you receive. They will comb through the moments of your day and create a piece that flows, has highs and quiet moments, that will make you laugh and cry. I venture to say that the best videographers want to get to know their couples, so that they truly understand what their priorities are and what the possibilities for filming are on their beautiful, but always busy, day.

Questions to ask: How many weddings do you film every year? Will I get to meet the videographers who are filming my wedding? How do you make sure that you’re capturing what’s important to me?

Secret No. 4: They Run a Legitimate Business

Thankfully, more videography studios are operating as businesses. And that means they have insurance, which is a big deal if an accident occurs on your wedding day. They also pay sales tax (if their state requires it), and payroll taxes if they have employees. Why is it important that they have these? Because it’s another gauge on their ethics and potential longevity. If they’ve taken these steps, it shows they are serious about their business and are more likely to perform as promised.

Do they have you sign a contract? That’s another huge safeguard for you and the studio, and outlines what you can expect and remedies should they not perform to your satisfaction.

Questions to ask: Do you have insurance that should cover an accident that you caused? Will I be signing a contract?

Secret No. 5: They License Music

So you’ve been watching wedding videos and you loved a film you saw that incorporated “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. Well guess what? The videographer who created the film with that song is violating the copyright (at least if they are in the U.S.).

As artists ourselves, we want to make sure the musicians and singers who contribute to our works get paid as well, which is why we license every piece of music. Every single piece. Yes, that means we can’t get many pop tunes on the radio right now, but what we always promise our couples is to find music that fits their taste as well as the action and mood of the day. It’s simply the right thing to do! And if the music is legally licensed in your film, you should never get a “take down” message if you share it on social media.

Questions to ask: Do you pay to license music in your videos? How will you determine what kind of music I want to hear in my film?

Whew! That’s a lot of information. And I could probably give you another 10 more secrets to finding a great videographer.

I hope these “secrets” help you as you start your search. And I’d love to hear from you if they do!