On a rainy November 16 in Fairfield, New Jersey, 30 members of the event filmmaking industry gathered at Unique University to learn about the newest way of shooting weddings. Equipped with external audio recorders, iPhones, and traditional pens and paper, attendees were ready to absorb as much information as we could from Adam Forgione of Pennylane Productions, an EventDV 25 all-star and winner of 9 Creative Excellence Awards at WEVA Expo 2010. Forgione held this 16-hour workshop in order to help filmmakers of all ages and levels of expertise to make their businesses flourish, their products more creative, and their services more marketable. Forgione's enthusiasm for what he does and his love of teaching made the Short Form Wedding Seminar a great opportunity for all who attended to improve what they do.
Although Unique University marked Forgione's first foray into back-to-back all-day marathon workshops, it was also something of a warmup gig for Pennylane Productions, who will be taking Forgione's show on the road in early 2011, with workshops in 12 cities planned (www.pennylaneprod.com/workshops). So this article should give you a good idea of what you can expect to see, hear, and learn if the Pennylane EDU 2011 tour rolls through your town.
Day 1: Shooting
Day 1 of Forgione's 2-day seminar focused on shooting. Shooting weddings can be stressful for all of us, no matter how ambitious our approach. But Forgione takes it to a whole new level. With a three-man crew, loads of equipment-including lights, recording devices, and stabilizers-Forgione brings a huge dose of professionalism to wedding video, and an inspiring model for wedding filmmaking in the DSLR era.
The majority of the day we focused on learning exactly what this new wave of wedding filmmaking is and how to master it. Forgione focused on the ins and outs of cameras and lenses, external audio recorders, mics, stabilizers, and more. He taught us that details were key. What he called "eye candy" was the most important thing-other than the ceremony and first dance-that must be captured during the shoot. Without the beauty shots of the dress, shoes, bouquet, the couple, the venues, and so on, making a short form film would not be possible. He emphasized to control the situation is paramount while shooting a short form film. As a filmmaker, you know what you need to capture; it's your level of confidence that can make or break you. If you get to know your client and learn to trust yourself, Forgione said, then your product will only get better. Control the situation, shoot what you need of each location and segment of the event, and move on to the next big part of the day.
Educating your clients on short form and letting them know what they are getting is imperative to the success of your business, according to Forgione. You have to let them know that "short form is what they want, even if they don't know it yet." Sit the client down and show them what they will be getting so they know what to expect in their final product, he explained.
Toward the end of the first night, Forgione began transitioning into the second day's topics. Natural audio had been a huge issue for most of the day but now we were diving into one of the most important aspects of short form filmmaking: music, which helps determine the pace, tone, and style of Forgione's films. In order to be able to edit to music properly, first we need to understand music and how it's constructed. We listened to various genres and time measures to learn the impact music can have. Forgione's enthusiasm and love for music kept us listening and awake for the last hour.
Day 2: Editing
When cutting a short form film, where do you start? Step one: bins and organization. Forgione's explanation of how to organize your edit was definitely the highlight of the day. Understanding what footage you have and knowing where to find it makes the editing process more efficient. Forgione taught us to begin by cutting the main sections (ceremony, toasts) in their entirety; this gives a foundation to work off of and can keep your client happy by giving them all the main points on a bonus track.
Most of us know editing is not just cutting up footage-it takes a sharp eye for color. Using filters like NewBlueFX's Color Fixer Plus and Final Cut Pro's Three-Way Color Corrector, Forgione showed us not only how to make the right colors pop, but how to fix any mistakes from the shoot.
Day 2 completely destroyed all the anxiety that comes with editing short-form weddings. We watched one of Adam's most recent 25-minute short-form films and dissected it section by section, cut by cut. We tore apart every editing decision made by the Pennylane crew. We began to understand why they do what they do and how editing style can make each studio's short-form weddings unique. Forgione emphasized the importance of timeshifting and creating sequences to keep a film exciting and entertaining. From repeated exposure to Forgione's film it became clear how pacing, color, and timeshifting make such a huge difference to your final product.
Ultimately, Adam Forgione's Short Form seminar was a great success. He achieved his goal of having everyone leave that 16-hour workshop feeling confident and knowledgeable enough to tackle short-form weddings. Forgione's desire to teach and provide thorough explanations helped attendees grasp all aspects of short form filmmaking. His workshop provided wonderful advice and education in a fun, relaxed environment, completely capturing the art of short form.
Kara Stellner (kara at lifestagefilms.com) is film editor for Matt Davis' EventDV 25 studio Life Stage Films. She has been editing professionally for 3 years. Before coming to Life Stage she worked on the Military Channel production Modern Sniper.