With little confidence in my videotaping abilities, I brought most of my video studio into the reception hall. First I annoyed the photographer with my Lowel 1000 W light, which was a necessary evil given the low-light deficiencies of the camera I was using. Then I upset the band with the 19" monitor that I set up on the dance floor. The caterer could not have been happy that I duct-taped the undersides of six tables to get my power strip from the wall to my equipment. And I'm sure the bride was none too thrilled with my Panasonic 8410 VHS deck, which kept swinging into her while I stood just two feet away from the wedding couple because my JVC Saticon tube camera did not have a zoom lens.
As my first year in the video profession progressed, I got used to the habitual warm welcome from every banquet manager, which usually went something like this: "You the video guy? You aren't going to use those bright lights, are you?"
At every job I noticed the florist would get a kiss from the mother of the bride for decorating the room. The band leader would get a hug from the bride's dad at the end of the wedding for entertaining the guests. The caterer would get new business from satisfied guests who enjoyed his food. The only comment I got at the end of the evening was, "It's about time you unplugged those lights."
My compliments would not come until months later when the bride saw the finished product. Meanwhile, all that her guests remembered about me was that I was the guy schlepping around half of the Best Buy electronics store on the dance floor. Even if I made one good impression, I could forget about drumming up any additional business on site.
Fast-forward to 1995, when a bride asked me to create something different for her wedding. Our most creative product up to that point had been to show a photo montage while the bride and groom enjoyed their first dance. This bride and I came up with the idea of showing footage from the church service at the wedding reception. Her church was near my house, and I had just enough time to edit her service at my studio and rush to the hotel and tack the footage onto her photo montage. This was our first same-day edit, which we branded the "Wedding at the Wedding."
After the video was shown and the applause quieted down, the bride thanked me, by name, in front of all her guests, for creating such a beautiful video for her wedding. No one had seen such a concept before and guests started to come over to me to ask if I could produce something for their upcoming weddings.
Producing a same-day edit for that bride made for a great evening, yet what made it better was the fact that now the photographer, bandleader, banquet manager, and other wedding vendors started to see the beauty and meaning of producing a video.
A successful video evening for me is when I can show a video during the event. It may be a Legacy Biography for a 50th anniversary party, or a funny concept video for a bar mitzvah, or a same-day edit where the bride and groom talk about their history and we show footage from the wedding.
Many of my videos have the bride talking about the preparations for her wedding. I'll have the bride talk about how thrilled she is to have her wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel, with Double Vision as her band, and Mark Karlsberg as her photographer. It may be just an added line to her Biography Legacy, yet when we show her Wedding at the Wedding we will have footage at the Four Seasons, a shot of the band, and a closeup of the photographer shooting photos of the bride getting ready.
When you produce such a video, the audience will get a deeper appreciation of how this bride planned her wedding, which is an important goal to achieve. But you'll also cement relationships with other key local wedding vendors by promoting their businesses free of charge, and they, in turn, will start to send business your way. It's a win-win situation.
Showing a same-day edit at a wedding, bar mitzvah, or other milestone event is now becoming an accepted part of the event video business. Videography organizations such as the 4EVER Group, WEVA, and local associations like the NPVA and others are now focusing more attention on educating videographers on the wealth of opportunities in family documentaries and same-day edits. Take advantage of these workshops and become more than a videographer. Become a Video Historian!
Twenty-five years ago the banquet manager at the Four Seasons Hotel would demand that I turn off my harsh video lights during an event. Now the banquet manager will ask me when I would like to show my video, and if I have I brought enough Kleenex for all the guest tables. Well, maybe I did not bring the Kleenex—but I did bring enough business cards!
Streaming video examples of Hal Slifer's Legacy Biographies and same-day edits can be viewed on the EventDV page at www.thevideohistory.com.