Whenever I’m stuck on what to do for a wedding edit I always think. HWSKEAW? Then I know exactly what to do. In all serious though, when you think of a wedding film there probably is no farther thing from your mind than Stephen King. I mean that’s the guy that writes stories about scary clowns and rabid Saint Bernard’s, right? What does he have to do with a wedding film? Well, a lot actually. Forget about your prejudices for just a second and hear me out. A story, is a story, is a story and the same basic principles apply to all stories. Whether that is a horror novel or a wedding film.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve been spending more time reading, writing and learning the elements of storytelling. As I have it’s been amazing how universal the principles I have learned are. Many of which I have been applying to editing videos for years and hadn’t even realized it. Yeah, it’s pretty ambitious to compare my work to that of one of the most prolific writers of all time, but here is my reason why Stephen King might make a great wedding videographer.
Kill your darlings
If you are a writer you’ve heard the William Faulkner quote before about killing your darlings (I won’t pretend I’ve read any of his books). It is one that has been echoed by Stephen King over and over in much of his advice. Basically, it means you’re going to have stuff that you’re going to love but ultimately you have to think what’s best for the story. Yeah, that shot or scene is awesome but if it doesn’t fit the story you need to get rid of it. No matter how great the shot is, if it doesn’t make sense or takes away from the flow it’s going to take people out of the story and take away from the film.
Beautiful shots are very easy to get stuck on (yes we’ve been guilty of this too), but the first thing on a storyteller’s mind should always be whether something adds to the overall creation or is it existing just because you like it. If it exists just because and it doesn’t add to anything you need to axe it like Jack from The Shining. Ultimately it’s the story that people will walk away with and tell their friends about, not one or two cool shots. Focus on the overall story. There will always be plenty of cool or beautiful shots but there is only one chance to tell a story that works.
The rhythm of a novel and a wedding film are obviously very different but they do come down to the same thing and that is that you need to keep your audience engaged.
Stephen King might use a series of twists along the path to the final post-apocalyptic showdown between good and evil. In a wedding however, it’s normally not quite that intense (at least I hope, though I would love to film that wedding.) In a wedding, suspense is a little more subtle, but it’s still necessary. Have you ever watched a friends wedding and wondered when was it going to be over? That was because there was no suspense or story. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic conflict like in a movie but suspense can be created in a wedding film by hooking the viewer with a question at the beginning of the film and answering it later. It can be a simple question. How did they meet? When did he realize she was the one? Why do they have a cake with a skeleton on it? Our minds are naturally conditioned to expect questions.
If you don’t give that to the audience their attention will quickly wane. So that’s it. Just two points, but good ones nonetheless. It can be tempting to put in that epic shot that doesn’t fit in the story or edit a film without a hook but if you follow these two simple pieces of advice you’ll find yourself on your way to creating weddings that engage and keep your audiences attention.