Dreamwood: As always, our day begins with good news!) If you have questions about our work or life, perhaps you’ll find some answers in this interview for the best wedding webportal in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) :)). We talk about our experience, share our views and tell about our plans for the future. The interview is veeery lengthy and very interesting!) We hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
Wedding videos are pure magic. The most important moments of life are captured within a small camera and may be played back multiple times, bringing emotions and joy of that day back. Mikhail and Ludmila revealed some of their secrets of making small films about love and, of course, gave some tips on organizing filming and photo shooting processes on the wedding day.
Hi, Mikhail and Ludmila! You work as a couple, but how did you become a couple?
Our story began a long time ago, more precisely – 12,5 years ago when we first saw each other, we were both students then. And since that time we are always together, like lovebirds. We do everything together: working, resting, doing business and so on. It may seem strange for some people, but we really don’t get tired of each other. There are no such moments when one of us would like to get some rest from the other.
Developing together, looking for our path we, so to say, brought up and formed each other. Our views changed simultaneously, our tastes developed and changed with us. We became family a long time ago, even though we officially got married only in July of 2015.
As creative people, we were always drawn to art. We always wanted to create something that would remain after we are gone, that would give people joy and pleasant emotions. And family, relationships between people, harmony, warmth and love mean the world to us. We tried everything, we worked almost in every sphere of wedding business. But, step by step, gradually leaving all the unwanted behind, we came to making wedding videos. And this is where we truly found ourselves.
Tell us about your first video. Why did you choose video, not photography?
We shot our first video too long ago to remember it now. At those days no one took wedding videos seriously. They were more like an explicit newsreel shooting of weddings as they were. Since then we experimented with cameras, formats, styles, we’ve filmed a lot of very different weddings – and so, year after year we gained experience and got better.
A year ago we felt that we became mature professionals, so we were able to create our own recognizable style. Everything that was before was a mere preparation, stair-steps on our way. We always liked filming and photographing, we experimented and developed our skills in both these areas. But, as you know, to become a true professional one should fully dedicate oneself to the chosen craft. The time came when we had to choose and we chose video.
We don’t want to offend anyone, but we didn’t like anything that we saw on the wedding market of Russia, Belarus, and other countries of CIS. All the videos were similar, trite, often with glamour and scale, but without any soul. And the difference between western and Russian videos was so great that it stroke ones’ eye from the first film frames. We couldn’t believe that there were no soulful videos. We decided that we had to change something urgently.
How did you come to a decision to make this very special genre of videos creating almost a movie of a wedding shooting? Tell our readers more about your style.
Scenery, colors, characters, their clothes – in movies everything is always irreproachable and matches perfectly. Before us there was no one who would approach a wedding shooting like a movie, who would take it so seriously. Two-hour long documentary films with scenes in registry office, of bride purchasing, traditional round loafs and drunk guests stuck in peoples’ memories so deep that many of them still shudder, reject filming and order a photographer.
We really wanted to change peoples’ views and show them how beautiful wedding videos can be. We wanted to turn the videos not just into wedding films, we wanted to create pieces of true art. And so, by trial and error, we gradually came to movie-like wedding videos, which we make for year now. It’s risky, while not so many people would want to order such a video, it’s very difficult, but it’s so, so beautiful!
To experience the full range of pleasant emotions people should watch our videos on a big TV screen or even through a projector, not on an iPhone. We film with cine optics, it helps us get the picture we always wanted to get. Yes, perhaps, it’s not for everyone, but this is what we like about it. We found our style and our clients who want to get something unique, not common.
What can you say about wedding video industry in general? There is a lot more information and blogs about photography. And videographers are slightly left out. Is there a difference between the West and CIS countries?
Actually, we would like to strip away the myth that in western countries everything is so perfect and cool. Of course, there are a lot of beautiful well-planned weddings in Europe and America, but most of them are still pretty unpoetic. Drunk guests, unnecessarily huge dresses, disappointing hairstyles, traditions that we don’t understand, registry offices – everything can be found there as well. So one shouldn’t divide weddings on “foreign” and “not foreign”.
We would like to notice that our specialists grow and develop so quickly that soon we might not only grade up to, but actually excel our western colleagues. Works of our photographers are published in the best worlds’ magazines, such as Magnolia Rouge, Once Wed and others. Our work was also published in Once Wed recently, it was a workshop shooting in Sochi.
Sometimes we feel regretful that we can’t show our work in printed issues, but there are a lot fewer good videographers than good photographers. The competition is not so strong. We believe that our specialists will set standards for the western colleagues soon and that they will fill the best magazines with their works.
Do you have dreams about further development of the industry, about couples’ attitude to wedding videos, about works of your colleagues? What would you want to see?
We would want couples to listen to their hearts, not to fall for fashion trends and to be very self-aware when they prepare for their weddings. Fashion is something that eventually will be left in the past, we like when couples choose something more classical, because classic is beyond fashion, beyond time and beyond place.
We also try to make our videos into classical, beautiful movies. Wedding is not a fashion statement, not a gift to the relatives and not another matter for partying with friends. Wedding is a mystery, it’s something personal, even sacral. We see this day this way.
Now let’s talk about art and work. How do you divide your duties? Do you always work together? What are pros and cons for a family couple of working in one business?
We can say without any exaggeration that there are no cons of working together for a family couple. We think that family business is the best kind of business. Who can you trust more than your loved one? Often business suffers because of lack of trust between partners. Sooner or later someone starts to prioritize his/her own interests, often driven by greed and distrust. There are no such things in family business.
One of our rules is to always work together. Mikhail is our main videographer and I don’t always film, even though I always take camera with me. We don’t want to distract people, running around with two cameras all the time. Sometimes it is absolutely unnecessary. I am actually a kind of director. But when it’s time to capture as much as possible we film together. During the montage we also do everything together and always work on the same project.
We always strive for best results and prefer to do what we think is right to achieve them. We usually film registration and banquet with two cameras. Preparations and promenade of bride and groom we usually film with one camera: Mikhail works as the main videographer and I am responsible for frame composition, picture, angles, I also tell clients what to do and how to behave.
Weddings are usually held on weekends, does it mean that you don’t have lazy Saturdays in Summer?
We don’t usually have lazy weekdays as well! In those days we usually thoroughly prepare for filming, meet couples and colleagues, work on marketing projects and in social networks and, of course, edit. Of course, we have days off too, but they don’t usually fall on weekends. One of the benefits of our job is that we can take a day off almost any day we want just changing our working arrangements.
In your opinion, what is the difference between male and female view of a wedding?
There are some differences and we often talk about them when we meet couples. For example, a man working as photographer or videographer might not notice the simplest things that are important for a woman when they shoot brides. It’s more difficult for men to see if a bride chooses postures that contort her figure or face and make her less attractive. A woman-videographer will always notice those details and give the necessary advice.
Sometimes I might even take out a fragment that Mikhail chose during montage because I feel that the bride won’t like herself in this fragment. At the same time, Mikhail, as a man, knows better how to work with the groom and how to accent all his strong suits. So, working together we get great results.
By the way, most videographers are men. From your experience, do couple usually want to see a man or a woman as their videographer?
To be honest, we never thought about who is better videographer – a man or a woman. We think that the most important thing is result and all the rest depends on peoples’ preferences since tastes differ. The best variant, actually, is when a couple is filming, then both mans’ and womans’ look are present.
There is a widely spread opinion that wedding photos are essential and videos are not necessary. Don’t you feel a little bit offended?
We’ve already mentioned the common stereotype according to which wedding videos are something two-hour long and ugly. But, fortunately there are social networks now where everyone can find beautiful photos and videos and see that wedding films became something completely different. So no, we’re not offended. Usually we’re reached out by people who saw our works and want to get similar result.
So how should we change couples’ opinion about wedding videos?
We should just show them how beautiful they may be. Because people like you and ourselves live in the world of wedding industry and know about all the trends. And most couples work in completely different areas and can’t even imagine what wedding market can offer. They don’t know that the best photographers shoot on film now and that wedding videos may look like movies. We should just show them.
Tell us a little bit about inner workings of your job. How much time it takes to edit and montage a video, how do you divide that process? How many hours of video you film on one wedding and how do you make a 10-minute video of it?
Montage takes about 3 months. On every wedding we usually shoot a lot of footage, but we film more selectively lately. It helps us to reduce unneeded material and increase percentage of ideal shots that will make it into the film and that we’ll add to our portfolio. Most of the footage is cut out during montage. This way our videos turn out dynamic, eventful and impossible to take eyes off.
Is videography more of a creative process or is it long and hard work?
It’s both. We take making wedding videos very seriously. It’s not a hobby or a temporary passion for us, it’s our main job. And to be successful in any job one has to work hard.
During video shootings we usually work with guests trying not to neglect any of them. Working with people is always not easy. Besides, camera itself is pretty heavy with all the additional equipment like monitors, stands and so on. So videography is also, in part, physical labor.
Tell us about a shooting day of a wedding videographer. What is left behind the scenes?
We like to start a shooting day calm and relaxed. We meet the couple, drink coffee with them, chat, they get dressed and prepare for the wedding unhurriedly, then joyful guests begin to arrive and everything around us is being filled with laughter and smiles. At that time it’s important that bride and groom don’t think about timing and organization and just enjoy that day.
Sometimes moments when we record an interview with a bride are left behind the scenes. For example, we just chat with a bride about different things, laugh, ask something about the groom and their engagement. And all that time a turned on sound recorder lies beside us recording her voice and the bride doesn’t know about it. That way we can record more vivid and interesting material than if we would film a prepared interview.
A lot of preparations, our communication with Mikhail, organization of work process and dividing responsibilities is left behind the scenes. At banquet we often coordinate our work with wedding hosts’ plans so that no important part of the wedding begins if the photographer and videographer are not ready to shoot. Also the couple usually doesn’t know that the whole wedding day we professionally record sound with sound recorder on multiple tracks.
In your opinion, why there are more wedding photographers than videographers? Is it due to higher demand or also to peculiarities of the job?
I don’t think it’s a matter of demand. We think that it’s primarily due to the fact that production of a wedding video is far more complicated on all stages. From heavier equipment and multiple additional items that we have to carry around the whole day to long hours of watching and editing of the filmed materials.
It’s much easier to travel with a photographic camera while a film camera goes with many additional equipment items that take a lot of space. Sometimes looking for the right music may take awfully lot of time. Then we have to select scenes. Every stage of making a video is much more difficult but videographers are paid almost same as photographers. So it’s much easier to earn the same amounts of money photographing than filming.
Let’s talk about modern weddings. What kind of people are brides and grooms you work with and what kinds of weddings are more interesting for you to film?
Fine Art style had significant impact on all spheres of wedding industry. For us it became one of the final influences before we determined our style. We believe that like calls to like. We usually have like-minded acquaintances and clients, they appear in our lives drawn in by our intentions, way of thinking and inner world.
Nowadays people sometimes forget that wedding is not just a fashion statement or a fancy party, it’s an energetically significant event, it’s moment of magic, moment when a new family is created. All couples we work with understand it very well. They are usually very interesting people with great taste and rich inner world, they are cheerful, simple and very pleasant to communicate with. And, most importantly, they are not just in love, they truly love each other.
We like to film sincere weddings and sincere people. We love outdoor weddings with small companies of the closest people, we sincerely enjoy when bride and groom take their wedding seriously, think all the details and little things through. Because final results of our work depend not only on us, but also, in equal measures, on couples.
Everything matters here: what kind of venue they will choose, decorations, invitations’ design, floristics, hairstyles, dress, when they’ll decide to have a photoshoot and filming sessions and so on. We like when on the wedding day we’re allowed to film all events as they are and when we choose another day to go out of town and film the couple there. It helps couples not to lose precious time of their wedding day because of shooting and to spend all the time with guests enjoying every moment of one of the most important days of their lives.
Do you have to turn some clients down from time to time? How many weddings do you manage to film in a year?
Sometimes we actually turn down clients, but it doesn't happen often since most of the time we get letters from people who don’t give any reason to turn them down, they organize everything so beautifully, conveniently and sweetly, think everything through so well! It’s very difficult to say how many weddings we film in a year, we never really counted. But we usually begin filming in May and finish in November. But it doesn’t mean that we will work on all the weekends, sometimes we have free Saturdays, but not very often.
We prefer to film less weddings but to do higher quality work. Often we can see how responsibly a couple approaches their wedding after several minutes of communication. Even the first letter can tell a lot. Often couples send us beautiful and orthographical letters where they tell us a little bit about themselves and their future wedding day. But sometimes we receive letters with only one phrase in them, something like: - “How much are your videos?”, without even a greeting.
We often don’t even reply those messages because such questions show irresponsible attitude of these people to their wedding and disrespect to hired professionals. In our work subtle spiritual connection is important. Our duo and the couple should feel each other, then we will be able to capture everything on our videos as beautifully as it’s possible.
There has to be a new take and conception for every couple. How do you manage not to turn creative process into daily grind?
Our creative process doesn’t turn into daily grind because all our couples are so unique. They are very different, unusual and soulful in their own way. Actually, we look forward to every wedding and prepare thoroughly, also we communicate with couples a lot before the wedding day. With many couples we go out of town to do some filming before or after the wedding. Those scenes complement the wedding film or make up a separate clip.
Creative job turns into daily grind if there are monotony and banality. And if there aren’t, there is no drudgery. We always work both on wedding videos and on creative not-for-profit projects, organize workshops and tutorials. Everything that we do we do together, it’s always interesting and lively and we help and support each other.
By the way, about banality. There are certainly some clichés in wedding videos. Which filming techniques you don’t like?
Actually, any technique may be realized both beautifully and not very well. There are definitely clichés in wedding videos – you may notice similarity and resemblance in works by very different authors. We can definitely tell that we don’t really like when there are too many fashionable gimmicks in one video. We don’t like when videographers try to attract clients with multi-camera filming and when videographers concentrate primarily on technical aspects of the work and not on the result.
We don’t really like too “fashionable” techniques, since fashion comes and goes and a wedding video stays for lifetime. We try to avoid techniques that will be perceived as strange and ludicrous in 10 years. We like stylish and calm videos with emphasis on emotions, not on technical aspects.
Tell us about the most touching video in your career.
We don’t want to give prominence to any of them because for every couple their wedding day is the best. But we would like to tell you about good friends’ wedding. It was a very heartfelt celebration held out of town in a beautiful wooden manor built in Belarusian style. There was storks’ nest not far from the manor. Our friends told us that when they visited this venue for the first time they have seen two white storks fly to the nest. It was a sign for them and they decided right away that their wedding will be held at this manor.
The guys prepared the wedding themselves with the help of friends and family: the wedding dress was sewn by bride’s sister, grooms’ mother made all presents for guests with her own hands – they gave little linen packs with home baked cookies and wooden protective charms instead of traditional bonbonniers. In evening the bride sang her own, incredibly beautiful songs for the groom.
They actually met each other because of these songs. The groom once found them on the internet and when he found out that their author is from the same city that he lived in, he determined to meet her. It was very beautiful. This is one of those cases where the couple managed to organize everything very well without any help from managers or agencies. But it’s an exception to the general rule.
Do couples that order wedding videos from you usually want to get a beautiful movie about their love or a newsreel with all emotions of the wedding day? How do you find balance between the two?
A wedding video usually combines newsreel shootings and true emotions and some romantic staging that we do when we go out of town. Combination of real life moments and some beautiful staged scenes results in great, harmonious videos.
Are there materials that you don’t include in final videos but that you give to couples as precious memories anyway?
Of course, if guys want, we give them all the materials we shot. But often we just prefer to include more scenes in the final film. We don’t have any particular standards of wedding films’ length. We always ask couples, what kind of video they would like to get. And they can give their answer after wedding.
Their choice doesn’t usually influence the final price. Sometimes before wedding couples say that they want a short 10-20 minute film. But after wedding is over they realize that they want to include as many important moments as possible and we make 40-50 minute video.
You are also photographers. Is it just a hobby or you want to expand the scope of your activities?
Yes, we do photography as well, we always did. But now video shooting is more important to us and we dedicate most of our time to it lately. But this year we plan to devote more time to photography. In future we want to work as videographers and photographers at the same time.
Where do you look for inspiration?
We travel a lot, every year we take a big journey that lasts 6 months, from November to May. We did it 4 years in a row. So we usually find inspiration in new countries. We also watch many films and gain inspiration from great directors and their works. Our favorite directors are Terrence Malick, Michel Gondry, Lars von Tries, Wes Anderson, Yoann Lemoine. We also like to watch interesting and original music videos, ads and fashion clips.
We find inspiration for our photos in beautiful pictures by classical artists. Sometimes films give us inspiration not only for videos, but for photos as well. Our favorite films are “The Tree of Life”, “The new World”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Moonrise Kingdom”, “The Thin Red Line”.
Describe your ideal wedding photo.
We think that composition of an ideal wedding photo should be simple. Because one always wants more real, lively photos from a wedding. We realized that when we were preparing for our own wedding. We wanted as many photos of guests, moments and details as possible.
On the wedding day one does not want to engage in any staged photoshoots. It’s better to choose a day, take the wedding dress and suit and go out of town, or maybe even abroad, and do a photoshoot for the two. We see this as ideal variant.
Tell us about your wedding videography workshop. It’s quite a rare format, why did you decide to do it? And how did it go?
We decided to do it because one moment we realized that we have really valuable information and experience and that it’s time to share it with the world. Besides, we had so many ideas on how to create something inspiring and beautiful. That’s how the idea to do this workshop appeared.
Our master-class may help both videographers and photographers. Because it’s an interesting project of high quality that is fun to film and photograph. We talk a lot about inspiration and working with clients, about achieving high level of professionalism without losing enthusiasm to create beauty. We also talk about marketing methods.
Videography master-classes are rare, it results mostly from videographers’ attitude to wedding videos. For many people videos are just a way to earn money, so even if such workshops take place, people usually talk about kinds of cameras, camera stands, monitors and so on.
We don’t see workshops as business opportunities and we don’t want to “churn them out”. At the moment we plan to do 1-2 workshops per year. But this year we also plan to organize 1-month course with intense syllabus and graduation work at the end.
All people are different. Some of us feel comfortable in front of a camera, some don’t. And if with photos it’s possible to guide a person, it’s much more difficult to do on video. What do you do to get those sincere scenes where couples look like characters of romantic movies?
We’re always very sincere and honest with couples, they see it and reciprocate. We communicate a lot and always find some interesting topics to talk and to joke about. There are no secrets here.
Wedding is a very sincere and joyful event as it is, so there’s no need to interfere and prevent people from being themselves and showing their true emotions. We always try to meet couples before wedding, if couples live in other countries, we communicate with them a lot on Skype and in social networks. So when wedding day comes, we know each other very well and couples feel comfortable and relaxed around us.
Do you often happen to be on the other side of the camera?
Sometimes we are being shot but it’s more often photoshoots than video. We like to be in front of a camera, we feel very comfortable and quickly catch necessary mood, so it’s usually fun to shoot us. We are always open to participation in interesting photoshoots and projects.
Finally, let’s give couples 5 important tips from videographers.
- Don’t follow the fashion when you choose style of your wedding, listen to your heart. Wedding is your personal celebration, it should express you and no one else. Then it will be unique and special.
- Pay attention to small details. Every detail impacts the general atmosphere and mood.
- Don’t plan to drive in different places on the wedding day. Driving and traffic jams take too much time and there is not a lot of time in general. Choose one beautiful place where the wedding will be held, starting with morning preparations and ending with banquet. It’s better to do a separate photoshoot before or after your wedding day to get some light romantic shots. It’s always nice to put a wedding dress on one more time without having to go through all the stress because of wedding organization.
- We often advise couples to hire a manager and not to lay all the troubles of preparations on their and their parents’ shoulders. It will help the couple and their parents to really enjoy the celebration.
- Don’t try to save money looking for photographer and videographer. Everything will fade from memory: decorations, food, hairstyle, even details of your wedding dress, but film and photos will be the only things that remain. They’ll preserve your memories for your entire life.
Speed or flowing motions?
Minimum storage capacity of a flesh-card?
The most touching moment of a wedding day?
Meeting of bride and groom, taking vows.
3 things that have to be in your wedding video.
Sincere emotions and smiles, light, slow movements, sensitive and sincere glances.
If the bride is crying it means that
She is happy.
Twenty-four-seven together is...
...just like us.
What a man and a woman would definitely shoot differently on a wedding?
Morning preparations of bride and groom.
Which moments in your job are the best?
Those moments when we show our clients their film and they laugh, cry and hug us.
In 5 years Dreamwood...