Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Dragons Den a BBC series in which budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five multi-millionaires willing to invest their own cash. Two weeks ago two ladies from Clapham came on the show to introduce their idea of handing out a video camcorder to a budding punter to film at their friends wedding and the girls would charge £849.

For the £849 you get a dated Sony camcorder for a day to film whatever you wish at your friends wedding, returning the camera and tapes to the girls, they spend 3 days editing some kind of video together ending up with a DVD.

At first I was horrified at this concept but that depends what side of the fence you are coming at this…

Pro cameraman/editor’s hat…Very unprofessional footage to work with and as we all know you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear. This idea turns years of instilling into punters heads that they must get a professional to film the wedding…upside down.

Businessman’s hat…Great if you can get away with charging £849 and doing half the work.

There must be hundreds of wedding videographers cringing at this idea but if you think about it it’s not such a bad idea, who in their right mind wants to spend one more second at a strangers wedding if you can possibly avoid it.

The worst part of the wedding is when the £1500 a day wedding photographer skips off after the mock cutting of the cake and you still have at least 3 hours ahead of you.

The point is if you don’t enjoy being there then it makes sense to let someone else do your job…in fact I will bet the two girls are charging a lot more than many so called professional wedding videographers and they are only doing half the work.

It goes against all professional ethics but times are changing…no one thought 10 years ago that people would be filming weddings with photographic cameras, it’s all changing though I may add not for the better.

Anyone in their right mind will always choose a professional videographer over a DIY Video Bob or Bettie but financially if people in Clapham are affording this DIY filming service with editing and DVD services then you should all be charging £1500 minimum per professional wedding video and I bet thats way off the Clapham average cost of a wedding video…£650 at a guess.

Latterly when I was in the wedding scene I would on occasions hand out a smaller camcorder to see what footage the best man could produce or in one occasion I gave the flower girl a camera, so as you can see this idea is not new but the “extra” footage shot by amateurs was clearly identified and the client got the best of both worlds a cracking wedding video with some extra family input. The important point being 98% was professional and the extra raw footage was cherry picked and even the flower girl was given some tuition on using a video camera.

Good luck to the girls, they should be updating and handing out Sony MC50s, simple solid state camcorders with very little to tweak and cracking HD or SD pictures.

They prove one thing people are willing to spend money on little to no production values and are happy with a few copyright music tracks and an edit on iMovie…how much lower are production values in this world going to drop.

Conclusion : Over the past two days I have spoken to many people involved in and around this topic and it seems this has been good for the wedding video scene in general.

1. It has raised the profile.

2. Given many cheap skates a lot to think about.

3. Given the professional a benchmark for the first time “If you want to film it yourself it will only cost £849”

There is nothing to stop you as a working wedding videographer offering this very same “DIY” service as a starter package or doing what I did and giving various members of the wedding party a shot at filming some footage with a smaller easy to use camcorder.

The best news is the new benchmark starting price is £849 if you are charging less than this you are too cheap !


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

11 thoughts on “Shoot it Yourself “Weddings videos with little to no production values”

  1. I saw this and was horrified too – potentially very damaging for the video Market as these ideas tend to get cloned into other sectors – corporate/broadcast. Quality of the final product will be outside of their direct control, browsing their website the clips were pretty horrible.

  2. Its exactly the same think i tell posible clients at the first meeting.
    One “Client” (well, we did not come together.. at this time) told me the son of his neighbor “makes” videos too… and he would not charge the amount i doo.

    What can i say, i told him that if he is realy interested i a product and in relayability. He should not go for the “son”.
    The benefits in “investing” in my work, was that he could get more aout of the material and eaven a copy in one year oder two..

    He chose the “son”…

    Long storry short – he ended up asking me if i could “fix”(reedit) the footage, i took a look and denied…

    Now he´s a good costumer of mine… lesson learned 😉


  3. “They prove one thing people are willing to spend money on little to no production values and are happy with a few copyright music tracks and an edit on iMovie…how much lower are production values in this world going to drop.”

    More than you can imaging! I lived through this kind of shit with print/design; and it looks that this field is next… good luck Phil!!!

  4. This is depressing, the last guy i shot for who ran a wedding video company was evidence of this; self taught guy with a bit of money to burn on cameras and absolutely no proper production knowledge or etiquette, undercutting all the real competitors and pumping out a shit end product.

    Dslrs and desktop editing might be a democratizing force in video but i’m starting to think this level of accesibilty is ruining it for us all; how are you supposed to make a living anymore with so many clueless idiots running around, it’s a bit like giving a gun to a monkey…

  5. “people are willing to spend money on little to no production values and are happy with a few copyright music tracks and an edit on iMovie…how much lower are production values in this world going to drop.”

    If the customer is happy with it, who cares? Honestly, a lot of people just want some video to remember their wedding with. It doesn’t have to be professionally shot because the video isn’t the point; the point is the memories that it helps conjure for them. And in some ways, it may even be better, as the video is shot by a friend rather than some random “professional” who is just looking for a paycheck and is desperate for an excuse to leave (apparently…). Of course, the footage isn’t going to be as “good” if it’s shot by an amateur, but the upside to having a friend shoot is that the friend will understand the people at the wedding in a way the pro can’t hope to, and my guess is that putting a smaller camera in the hand of a friend will lead to capturing more intimate and genuine moments outside of the ceremony itself because people are going to feel more comfortable with their friend than they are with some random stranger.

    Similarly, you can’t blame people for wanting copyrighted music tracks in their wedding video. Sure, it’s unprofessional (and illegal technically) but again, the video is about reliving the happy memories of their wedding, and specific, copyrighted songs the couple knows and likes already are ALWAYS going to be more evocative for them than some royalty-free muzak that’s pulled offline.

    This may lower the production values, but they didn’t hire you to make a film for theaters, they hired you to make a video that they can watch and remember their wedding, or share the feeling with people who weren’t able to be there on the day of the wedding.

    I’m sure there will always be people who want the professional look, too, but if some customers want this, why talk crap about it? It’s their wedding, and based on the tone of your post, it’s pretty clear you don’t give a crap about the meaning of that and are in it purely for the money….which is fine, this is a profession after all.

    But you can’t blame customers for having taste that differs from your own, or for having the desire to have their wedding filmed by someone who knows and cares about them rather than someone who doesn’t know them at all and apparently resents being “forced to be there”.

  6. Weddings were hard going but every customer I worked for got 110% on the day and I came into that scene with a clear directive to deliver a hi-end professional product that was not being delivered back in the 1980s. Weddings have always been full of part time cowboys charging £250 then handing over a tape at the end of the day.
    True professional caring videographers are finding it hard to make ends meet with the explosion of people offering cheap weddings via a DSLR so the last thing they need is DIY weddings to compete with.

    “It’s their wedding, and based on the tone of your post, it’s pretty clear you don’t give a crap about the meaning of that and are in it purely for the money”
    I find that statement very offensive you do not know anything about me or my work ethics. I pulled out of weddings 7 years ago and had a 100% success rate over 15 years. They were hard stressful days and as everyone who has ever filmed a wedding will tell you there was nothing better than driving home after a long hard 10 hour shift.

  7. It is not possible to enjoy being a guest at any function and shoot a decent video simultaneously. Sure, anyone can shoot a bit of casual footage, but to record the event properly takes a dedicated approach.
    Of course many people will not appreciate this – at least not until after the event, when it’s too late to do anything about it. This new ‘do-it-yourself’ business is aimed at that market and will therefore probably succeed. Those providing a properly professional service have no need to fear, for this may well weed out those unappreciative clients that are such hard work!

  8. Like I said, I was making an assessment based on the tone of your post (hence the ” based on the tone of your post” bit of my comment). I’m sure your work is excellent, and I’ve shot a few weddings myself and know full well how grueling they can be.

    That said, there’s a difference between appreciating the drive home — that’s the satisfaction that comes after a good, hard day’s work in any field — and the tone I felt you took in your post, which to me read as though you were resentful of the people who hired you. Perhaps I’m reading it wrong, but that’s how it came across to me.

    Moreover, while I agree that DSLR cowboys and DIY wedding videos are going to make life harder for full-time pros, I can’t say I share your feeling that the consumers somehow owe it to you to purchase the “traditional” style of service, or that their choice to go in a different direction reflects a lack of taste on their part. I see you’ve edited the post now, but that was definitely the vibe I got from the original post.

  9. Here’s the point I was making in the original comment, though — what does “record the event properly” actually mean?

    Professionals certainly have their standards, but who is to say that customers can’t have differing standards. There will always be people who can’t articulate what they want until it’s too late, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimately some people would would prefer a more “personal” touch to their wedding video, and would be perfectly willing to sacrifice the “proper event recording” because what they care about are the MEMORIES and the FEELINGS, not having recorded every second in shake-free shots with crystal clear sound. (Not that that’s a bad thing, I’m just saying not all clients care about that, and that doesn’t make them wrong.)

    Personally, if I were in the wedding biz full time (I’m not, but I do some freelance weddings from time to time when friends need an extra shooter), I’d be offering a package that included DIY options. Probably something like you get one pro shooter with pro camera on the day of, to make sure all the important stuff are “properly recorded”, and then maybe 3 or 4 smaller prosumer cameras for friends or family members to shoot with. I think a lot of people would really go for something like that, and that doesn’t make them idiots or mean they’ll regret their decision after the fact.

  10. Yep! I even noticed my local college was offering a course on “How too shoot good video on a mobile phone…”

    GOD HELP US lol

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