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Keeping Up With Jones: Buying Time
Posted Dec 6, 2010 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Chris P. JonesMy main man Matt Mitchell once told me that there’ve only been about five songs written after 1970 worth a listen, and two of them are by the same singer—John Mellencamp. In the first, “Play Guitar,” Mellencamp exhorts his male listenership to forgo their pursuits of machismo for a more simplified approach to attracting women. Mellencamp knew that having talent on the six-string was the great equalizer for men of any stature.

In the same way, when it comes to pleasing our clients, many times we mistakenly believe that it is all about producing the most technically and artistically perfect film, regardless of delivery time. Could it be that there is a more simple solution? If John Mellencamp were a veteran wedding filmmaker encouraging us to success, how would he complete his own lyric, to “forget all about that __________, you better learn to _______”? I’ll take a stab at it.

Last month, I described how delivering at 3 months will benefit you quite a bit more than delivering at 6 months, both mathematically and emotionally. Because you are delivering the experience of their wedding while the couple is still high on the emotion of their recent nuptials, they’ll promote your services more enthusiastically and will be less likely to want changes. Your film is a catalyst in enhancing these emotions, but the window of opportunity to act as an effective catalyst closes slightly day by day.

Even more, those who present same-day-edits (SDEs) understand the power of early gratification. Because they present their product to a captive target audience, many of those who perform SDEs (such as Loyd Calomay of Loyd Calomay Films) receive enough leads from those presentations to eliminate any need for paid advertising.

The sooner you put something before the client, the happier she will be and the more it will benefit you. If you’re working hard to deliver at 3 months but cannot imagine executing SDEs, then you aren’t fully capitalizing upon the power of your work. The law of diminishing returns applies.

Even if you perform an SDE, and even if your backlog is too weighty to deliver a final product within a few weeks, you still have the chance to strike while the emotional iron is hot.

Last month, I suggested sorting out your best shots of your most recent wedding by the Monday or Tuesday after the wedding, regardless of the size of your backlog. By taking this one day to act upon your clips while they are fresh in your mind, you’ll shave a few hours off the total edit time when this edit comes up in the queue at a later date.

Next, take no more than 3 hours to create a 1–2 minute highlight of the event and post it to your blog, publicly or privately, by Tuesday or Wednesday. Do not spend a lot of time on this edit. The power of this video is not so much about your editing or color grading skills—save that for later. It’s about hitting at the emotional height, and then moving on to tackle another project in your queue.

It’s also not about scrutinizing your footage and picking out the shots that please you the most. It’s about having a list of high-impact shots that you can easily access and weave together. Keep it simple, and use the same shots in every highlight. Include moments of the bride and groom donning their attire, the bride coming down the aisle, the first kiss, the pronouncement, and the first dance. Do not show all of the highlights. Leave them hungry for more.

When you present this so soon after the wedding, the couple watches it and has an explosion of positive emotions. They forward the clip to all of their family and friends and begin to tell everyone how awesome you are less than a week after their wedding. Instead of getting attention 3–12 weeks later, when you make the final delivery (and things have cooled considerably), you get instant referrals at the pinnacle of their enthusiasm and during the apex of their celebrity!

Secondly, you’re buying yourself time with the couple. You’re tiding them over emotionally until you can fully satisfy them with their final film. In so doing, you will reduce the likelihood that they will pester you in the weeks and months before you have agreed to complete their edit.

And finally, you are providing a small, practical deliverable for all of the money that they’ve paid you thus far. While they have experienced a return on the money spent on every other vendor, the videographer remains the only one to be paid without producing a result (SDE and slideshow producers aside). Creating a small clip in the first week after the wedding provides a value on the money they’ve invested in you and communicates that you’re hard at work for them.

In addition to gaining hotter referrals, you’re also establishing who is in charge of defining the memory of this wedding. If you trump the photographer’s slideshow and if you outpace Uncle Charlie, then you will attain the status as the one preserving the emotional experience. Never discount the significance of being first!

Therefore, if John Mellencamp were to sing about the one thing that could level the playing field of wedding filmmakers as playing guitar does for a man’s attractiveness, I believe that he would champion the imperfect, immediate delivery. Mellencamp should know. While his 1982 single “Jack and Diane” (Matt Mitchell’s other favorite) is the most underproduced track on his American Fool album, at 4 weeks atop the Billboard charts, it remains his biggest hit release to date.

Chris P. Jones (jones at masonjarfilms.com), an Austin, Texas-based EventDV 25 All-Star, has been shooting weddings for nearly a decade and is a co-founder of the wedding filmmaking educational gathering IN[FOCUS].

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