Several leading wedding and event filmmakers shared their views on their interviews with the key players in their events and the seamless and powerful ways they incorporate these interviews into the films they produce. As a videomaking pioneer in the Greater Boston market, Hal Silfer has been producing interview-driven "video histories" for a quarter-century, incorporating multiple generations of voices and characters into the concept, love story, and "legacy biography" films he screens at bar mitzvahs, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and other later-in-life events through interviews he conducts in his Newton, MA, studio or other off-site locations. For award-winning producer Kristen Turick, incorporating interviews was something she and her husband (and primary shooter) pursued as a way of making their films feel more like documentaries. For Turick and Artifact Documentaries, the approach differs somewhat between on-the-fly interviews conducted on the wedding day and the more formal interviews she and her husband do after the fact.
Stephen Nathans-Kelly INTERVIEWING the INTERVIEWERS ne of the elements of traditional circumstances for getting reflective, In the world of wedding videography— O wedding and event videography that made it an easy target for its detractors, at least in the early compelling responses—the sort of thing poet William Wordsworth described as “emotion recollected in tranquility.” and its more story-oriented offspring, wedding filmmaking—we don’t have that kind of flexibility. The plot doesn’t days, was the infamous wedding Of course, the first and most change substantially from event to reception interview. It played into the common solution videographers found event, so the real story flows from worst stereotypes of the old school for the bad rep associated with the characters. It’s these characters’ videographer: the sweaty guy with the interviews was to stop doing them. The personalities and their individual and bulky equipment shoving microphones decline of the guest interview went shared experiences that give the event and blinding lights in the faces of hand in hand with the unobtrusiveness its real meaning, dimension, and unsuspecting guests who wanted movement in wedding video, the uniqueness and will drive the film you nothing more than to finish their retreat into the shadows that inspired make of it—that is, if you find a way to dinners in peace. the closest thing to a Hippocratic oath bring those characters to the forefront Part of the problem was the videographers have ever taken: “You of your film through their own words equipment: You couldn’t do the job won’t even know I’m there.” and unique gestures. without the bulk or the light in those But the problem with the unobtru- Enter the modern-day wedding and days, and you couldn’t put in a hard sive, fly-on-the-wall approach is that event filmmaker’s interview. In the day’s work with that kind of gear in the absence of any more substantial contemporary approach, interviews are without working up a major sweat. connection to the event or the people done the day of the wedding, the day But the bigger problem was involved, the objective, fly-on-the-wall of the rehearsal, or in-studio or on- strategic: The reception was always stance leaves very little room for story- location before or after the event. The a less-than-opportune time to do telling. After a while, most weddings time or locale may vary, but it happens interviews, partly because being asked start to look and play out the same anywhere but the reception dinner table to improvise a few wise words for the from that remote spot on the wall. and always in an environment where bride and groom was annoying to all In novels and feature films, there are the filmmaker has some control over the but the most attention-starved, and two types of stories that can work circumstances of the interview and can partly because the joyful frenzy equally well, depending on the par- apply his or her own expertise in of a typical wedding reception ticular strengths of the teller and the these scenarios to get results that serve didn’t provide the most conducive tale: plot-driven and character-driven. as more than sound bites or filler— 36 www.eventdv.net event dv FEATURE November 2009 / EventDV 37 interviewing the interviewers something more personal, easily lend itself to interviews. revealing, and unique than the “As I did more destination tired “You’ll always be my little weddings I found myself film- girl” clichés. ing and then photographing I spoke with four leading more rehearsals as part of a wedding and event filmmakers wedding weekend. If I’m going who have established their to be present a day before personal styles and reputations the wedding, I thought, why in the industry largely based not put me to work filming/ on the compelling, revealing, documenting the thoughts and funny, and moving stories they emotions surrounding the event collect in their interviews with and the moments that had led the key players in their events up to it? I simply expanded this and the seamless and powerful idea to set up time before the ways they incorporate these rehearsal to engage with the interviews into the films they
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