When writing about a phenomenon like Re:Frame, the lines between fact and legend quickly blur. After selling out the 50 available slots at their first boutique event, Re:Frame 08, in a 10-day sprint in March, the Re:Frame Collective wasted little time in plotting their next move. Rather than waiting for the chance to prove they could deliver the goods—a chance that will come in New Orleans this October—they put the power of positive buzz to the test again last week by announcing that Re:Frame is moving west for its first 2009 event: Re:Frame Austin, scheduled for April 27-29, 2009 in the Omni hotel in downtown Austin, Texas.
Just to re:view a bit, the Re:Frame Collective is a group of six wedding video studios, all 2007 EventDV 25 honorees—Julie and Alex Hill of Elysium Productions; Terry and Joe Taravella and Julian St. Pierre of Studio Vieux Carre; Don Pham of Take 1 Productions; Kristen* of Bliss* Productions; Chris P. Jones of Mason Jar Films; and Bruce Patterson of Cloud Nine Creative—who joined forces in 2007 to bring a fresh and different take on wedding video education. Three hallmarks of their approach, according to Pham, would be "more hands-on, more aggressive, more cool factor." They announced Re:Frame 08 on February 25, promising a boutique mentoring experience in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter (with the wonders of the French Quarter itself playing a central role in the Re:Frame experience) to the first 50 registrants. Ten days later—legend becoming fact—ReFrame 08 was sold out.
With demand so far exceeding supply, the wedding video industry waited with bated breath to see what would come next. The announcement arrived last week: Re:Frame Austin. Re:Frame Austin will resemble Re:Frame 08 in several respects: 50 attendees only; five-star hotel; VIP treatment for all; upscale, all-inclusive price (this time it’s $1,500, compared to New Orleans’ $1,299); exclusive focus on wedding video business, craft, and technique; seven presenters doing 2-3 hour workshop-style sessions with plenty of one-on-one interaction with the speakers in between; a focus on the overall attendee experience; and a strong sense of place.
Which brings us to the question: Why Austin? The self-described "Live Music Capital of the World," Austin also has an international reputation as an indie film hotbed, and the kind of vibe that supports the full experience Re:Frame aims to provide. "Beyond being centrally located between the coasts," says the Waco, Texas-based Jones, "filmmaking is always happening there. Being in a town that’s inspiring adds so much to the experience of learning what we do."
As the filmmaking base of Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise) and Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, From Dusk Till Dawn), who were as responsible as anyone for the independent film renaissance of the 1990s, Austin teems with indie chic. All of which is not to say that Re:Frame’s goal is to turn wedding videographers into indie feature filmmakers; on the contrary, Re:Frame is emphatically wedding-focused and intends to remain so, but is also attuned to the importance of bringing in inspiring outside influences. While the Re:Frame Collective will all be presenters at Re:Frame Austin, two featured presenters will add key ingredients to the Austin mix: StillMotion’s Patrick Moreau, the Canadian wedding filmmaker whose stunning Steadicam work and unique approach have caught Canon’s eye, earned him a spot in the 2007 EventDV 25, and made him one of the hottest things going in wedding video worldwide; and British DOP, editor, and cinematographer Philip Bloom, who was recently tapped by Sony to introduce its forthcoming PMW-EX3 to the video and filmmaking world.
Bloom’s involvement with the Austin event represents a departure of sorts from the template set in New Orleans, where the presenter roster includes the collective plus two trailblazing wedding filmmakers, the Philippines’ Jason Magbanua and Ireland’s Maurice O’Carroll. Bloom, who runs production company Some Like it Shot, has been shooting, directing, and editing documentaries and short films around the world for 20 years. Jones is quick to acknowledge that the Austin location was a key factor in Re:Frame’s ability to attract a speaker of his caliber, and says he’ll bring much more to the event than his name and reputation. "He’s got the mind and heart of an educator," says Jones. "He’s very recognizable, and very patient and skilled in what he does." Independent filmmakers like Bloom, Jones says, "have a lot to offer our industry from the technical side and with storytelling. They can help us develop a signature look, and save us time and money in getting the right tools in hand." Part of Re:Frame’s purpose, Jones adds, is to interest young, aspiring filmmakers—such as those currently in film schools—in wedding filmmaking as a viable and profitable career track with plenty of room for creativity, and Bloom’s presence at Re:Frame Austin will underscore the point. "Having someone like Philip Bloom gives us immense credibility with the film school crowd."
St. Pierre says Bloom’s session will focus on "framing, and what happens inside the lens." Bloom’s message to attendees will be to "separate yourselves from what’s out there, and see things differently. Philip is going to add a lot to our industry by coming on board with us, and open our eyes to a different approach to what we do." St. Pierre is also quick to point out the exclusivity of these speakers: "Re:Frame is the only place they’ll speak in the U.S. next year."
Moreau says his presentation will focus on "tips for destination weddings, Steadicam, 35mm adapters, and color grading—as well as how these things fit into our marketing plan."
But as with Re:Frame 08, it’s not just the presentations that will define the event; it’s what happens in between the seminars, with the up-close-and-personal exposure to the speakers that the small group of attendees will enjoy throughout the three-day event. "They get much more than the seven presentations," says Jones. "They get to pick the minds of the presenters. As a presenter, I’m jealous of the participants."
One issue with Re:Frame going forward is varying and expanding the circle of presenters who will speak at the events to keep the content fresh. "Right now, we’re all speaking," says Pham, referring to the six studios that comprise the Collective. "But the vision going forward is that three or four of us speak each time."
But just because six Collective members are presenting at both the New Orleans and Austin events doesn’t mean attendees will be getting the same presentations both times. Pham says he and Julie Hill will focus on the editing process when they present together in New Orleans, discussing how to do "short-form, coloring, the whole process." Pham says they might even provide video clips and other media assets to Re:Frame registrants ahead of time to keep session attendees involved at every step, working out the same color-grading issues as the presenters as the workshop unfolds. Meanwhile, Pham has something much different in mind for Re:Frame Austin: "I’ll go through the whole process of the event day—what I bring, what I do, where I position myself."
Even with two upcoming events spaced a scant six months apart—not to mention their own burgeoning individual businesses to run—the Re:Frame Collective is doing more than just promoting and planning events. Part of the Re:Frame mission is to maintain an active blog that champions innovative approaches to wedding video and educates videographers in how to develop their work and their businesses along similar lines. "One of my jobs," says Pham, "is to scour the planet for talent and feature them on the blog if they have something to share."
The overarching goal of the blog, Pham says, is to "expand the event filmmaker’s vision." Which sounds like a pretty good description of what Re:Frame Austin aims to do as well.
For more information on Re:Frame and Re:Frame Austin, click here.
Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV and EMedialive.com and runs FirstLookBooks, a book review blog.