Mike Martin's Fast Forward Club (www.fastforwardclub.com) has provided one alternative resource, with a growing Web community with much valuable content and some seminars planned, although the recent cancellation of their first-ever Expo was a significant setback. More recently, the 4EVER (Event Videography Education and Resources) Group (www.4evergroup.org) has hit the scene, and, with the experience and expertise at its helm, it's well-equipped to make event videographers sit up and take notice.
The 4EVER Group was founded by two former WEVA insiders and longtime event videographers: Tim Ryan, founder of Treasured Memories Video, and Steve Wernick, founder of Videoccasion and founding member of the Greater Philadelphia Videographers Association. Both got into the videography game back in the mid-'80s, and became involved with WEVA in the mid-'90s, first as volunteers, then as contractors and key organizers of the WEVA Town Meetings and Expos. In summer 2004, internal disputes soured the relationship, and WEVA and Wernick parted ways. Ryan quickly followed him out the door. Although they left with no specific plans for future work in the larger videography community, the response they received from the industry suggested a new direction. "So many videographers called us and said that it doesn't matter what you do, we're going with you," says Ryan. "Then we heard from the manufacturers—these were key people—asking us what we were going to do next," says Ryan.
"We clearly still had great relationships with the overwhelming majority of people in the industry," Wernick says. "That was the evidence we needed that we should continue." But how? Neither Wernick nor Ryan had any desire to form a trade organization to compete with WEVA. "We even sat down and said, ‘What can we do that WEVA isn't already doing that there's a need for? Let's fill in the blanks,'" says Ryan. "We started to write a list of the types of things that we might be able to supply. That was the start."
The foremost goal of the 4EVER Group is to educate videographers. "Right now we're starting with educational programming, working together with Luisa Winters, who's an Adobe Certified Instructor," says Wernick. "We've set up a nine-city tour." Class attendees will benefit from Winters' experience as a Premiere Pro trainer and will be learning on how to take full advantage of Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5. But the 4EVER Group isn't just about educating, it's also about acknowledging high-quality work through Artistic Achievement Awards. These awards, announced in January 2005, will feature 14 categories, including seven for wedding videos and seven for other types of events. "The obvious reason for this is to reward the people in our industry, but that on its own is not that different from what WEVA's doing," says Ryan. "What's different is that we are going to do this because we want to uncover new and unique creative talent."
The 4EVER Group then hopes to translate this new talent as well as that of established experts into a network of presenters and educators. "The next set of events or programs is going to be what we're calling ‘regional summits,'" says Ryan. "They're going to be in-depth workshops. You're not going to just be introduced to a topic; you should leave as an expert in that topic." In some ways, these regional summits will mirror WEVA's Town Meetings, but there's a distinct difference in the way that Ryan approaches these as compared to the way he ran WEVA's Town Meetings. When he ran these Town Meetings, Ryan says, his typical approach was to show a video and then encourage people to attend WEVA Expo to see and learn more. "Our goal is to not just show a video. I want to show the video hopefully with the videographer who shot it right there with me," says Ryan. "Then I want to discuss what's good or bad in the video, hear how it was done, hear what the mindset was of the videographer as he was shooting it." Ryan even envisions having panels of brides-to-be available to comment on how they perceive the videos. "Videographers never get to hear what customers or potential customers think," he says.
But the 4EVER Group isn't free and clear to move ahead with all of its plans; WEVA has filed suit against the organization and is thus attempting to enjoin it from launching the seminars and regional summits. "They've made allegations that we did not engage in appropriate conduct as we were leaving the organization," says Wernick. WEVA alleges that Wernick and Ryan illegally obtained and retained information about WEVA to gain competitive advantage.
The lawsuit also claims that Ryan has extensive member data from WEVA's ranks, although where the line is drawn between privileged and public information is debatable. "This is my analysis of what I read—because it didn't say it in these terms. It's the fact that I know how many people attended certain workshops and the fact that I know how many people each presenter draws," says Ryan. "I don't have the actual number of people in a spreadsheet in front of me, but I do know these things since I was there. [WEVA chair Roy Chapman] seems to indicate that I have membership info. I never even knew how many members WEVA had or how many total people attended WEVA Expo."
Despite the fact that uncertainty over the outcome of this lawsuit caused some sponsors of the 4EVER Group's regional summits to back out, Ryan doesn't have any desire to duke this out in court. Ryan and Wernick botj note that there are a growing number of companies and organizations that are moving into the space that was previously WEVA's exclusive domain. "The market on the educational side [of videography] is maturing," Wernick says. "There's no reason that there shouldn't be different entities offering educational programming.We just want the opportunity to compete in the marketplace."