How I became a Filmmaker - Toronto Wedding Videographer

A lot of people still don't know that I offer video services for weddings! Which is totally fine, I promise! I think that both video and photo are two different mediums that need different skills to execute properly.

It's probably safe to assume that most of you don't know that I studied film in school. I know, pretty mind blowing! Graduating with a Bachelor in Film Studies & English Literature I moved to the big city (hands up for all the small town girls here)! of Toronto and studied filmmaking in the editing room. I later got my Graduate Certificate in Post Production which launched me into commercial editing, music video editing, and editing rooms big and small. Even Content Producer positions! But without making this blog post a resume of all the things I've been a part of, I'm going to tell you what I love most about it instead.

It's funny, the most popular question I get asked is "what do you love doing more?" And I always respond with "that's not fair to ask! It depends on the day, season, client!" Truthfully, that's probably the best part about having two skillsets. Like photo and video is that they both tell stories in different ways that I LOVE so much. Filmmaking is my roots of content creation. For anything! I mean, if we REALLY want to get into it photography was something that was always there for me. I remember buying my first DSLR Canon Rebel when I was in University after a long journey with my dad's digital camera wasn't "scratching my itch" anymore for photography. I wanted my own. It was one of those Black Friday Sales and I remember I got (what I thought) was a great deal for a DSLR camera kit. Later I was slapped with duty fees because I bought it from the States, but let's not relive that low moment. I remember when it came to the condo and when I first took it out to discover it's skills. I brought it home for the weekend and naturally my family's pet Gus Gus was my first subject. After always having a camera on hand I finally had one of my own. And boy did I take it everywhere. I even ended up making Campaign Videos for a student running for Student Council of my University!

I wanted to make movies. Thanks to the direction of my Feminist Literature class in University that seriously BLEW MY NAIVE MIND I wanted to be a Cinematographer that made women feel empowered on screen. So that's what I studied. I wrote papers on the different constructs of colour representation in Polish Cinema, the influence of the Male Gaze in Marilyn Monroe's "Some Like it Hot", and the struggles when writing a film based from a novel. Yup, that was my life for 4 years before moving to the city.

Post Production was everything I wanted it to be. I found my way through all the essay writing to THIS POINT. The cutting room made me feel like that was where the magic lived. You can make any ordinary film look extraordinary with music, colours, tempo, voice overs, pacing, you name it! One of my final projects I re-recorded my mom's old Super 8's. I for the first time created magic of my own. It was a personal project for me that I have forever will cherish. It was shortly after this that my Nonna had sadly passed away. Whenever I miss her I have THIS. A story told by my mother to remember the legacy her family left. A story told through video that I wouldn't have if I didn't have this skillset. Projects like these that I can thank my passion for.

I also found myself never letting my camera go, always leaning into photography gigs on the side. It was almost like, I have made this film now how can I market it with amazing photo content. It was always there never one without the other. I just didn't know my way yet. I didn't know what kind of stories to keep telling.... that truthfully would help pay my bills. Bouncing around from one job to the next I couldn't quite find something I loved. I didn't know it then but I had felt this feeling from that wedding I covered, I just didn't know THAT was the feeling I had to chase.

There were two moments I had that led me to the WEDDING WORLD. One was photography and one was videography. Probably another huge reason why I sometimes feel like THEY chose me and I didn't choose it. Hopefully that's a good thing right?

1) I actually did it!

In 2014 I photographed my cousins wedding. It was exhilarating! The pressure was high, the location was a dream, and I had THE BEST clients (of course!). Not only was their day amazing but I was surrounded by my family, had one of my best friends be my second shooter, and everything was outside. Growing up only going to big-hall-Italian-Weddings I didn't know weddings could be this fun. The photos are STILL photos I am proud to share today. It has a special place in my heart because not only am I so beyond proud of what I created back then (that I still share the photos to this day!) but the gratification of "damn, I just did that!"

2) I didn't even know this world existed

While in University I was asked to cover a wedding for video that was located in and around a barn. I just purchased another camera for photography that I was super excited to use that was 4K output so I thought, why not? That was the wedding I met a photographer that changed it all for me. The wedding itself was another modern-bride-earthy-toned-outdoor-wedding that left my footage beautiful with its lake backdrop and beautiful couple. Another wedding TO THIS DAY I still share and I am proud of. The photographer, now she was the one that opened a whole new world to me. She mentored me after and my gosh did I ever fall in love with the Instagram Bride and all that she wanted. How she spoke about weddings, the love stories behind them, and the privilege we have to capture a special day was everything I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I NEEDED TO HEAR. And that was it! I was hooked! And didn't know how to get there but I was destined to figure it out.

This isn't easy. I think a lot of services out there think that photography is like video and video is like photography but they are completely different ways of compiling a story together. I wouldn't say that anger is the right word when I see and hear of companies trying both for the sake of making money, but it definitely doesn't make me feel good that companies put the same-blanket over wedding coverage. One of my mentors changed my entire thinking about weddings. Showing me that it's art to showcase someones love into a story that one day brings.

Let's get real, wedding photography is a necessity. End of story. You need photos to curate photo albums to pass down to your kids. It's the medium that has taken us through every generation of memory keeping. Wedding videography almost seems like the new age of documentation and memory keeping for weddings. I have talked to couples that see it as a necessity and others that see it as an after thought. Both perspective I totally understand. Sure filmmaking has been around just as long and sure everyone likes going to the movies.

But seeing yourself as a "movie star" rather than a person in a photograph is a completely different feeling. I think this has to do with the vulnerability that video provides. I've never thought about this way until writing this blog post but there's no hiding in video. The whispers, outfit movement, how you giggle, what your goofy walk looks like.... those are things that a photo can capture but video really brings you right in that moment.

A wedding is a huge financial investment. It's something a lot of people don't really understand unless you have planned a wedding. There are so many little things that add up that you NEED and other things that are additions to your day that you WANT. I truthfully think video is somewhere in between. And that's okay. Part of my job is to pitch you to make video a NEED and not a WANT. But that's not really my style. I would rather make you see the value in video and the feeling that comes from it be a DIFFERENT feeling then when you look at a photo. The different experience of reliving your wedding day through the sounds of your guests, cheers as you walk down the aisle, and music to make you cry.

When you watch a video you keep watching. You keep staring until the video is over, or until the video cues you to look away. You are brought in with effects, sound, and picture to want to see more. Photo works in a beautifully different way. A moment captured in time, no other moment like it will be represented than that stand alone image. There is so much power wrapped in one frame. I think we all understand the power of one photo. Video brings you into that day differently, with what some may argue, more of an entire feeling than a photo would. The combination of all things I've been talking about in order to tell this story takes time & skill. Both things are different when creating a photography collection. How would I know this? Because I do both. I know the process behind photo creation and filmmaking that when other companies take on both, again for the reasons of making money, is frustrating because I don't think those couples are being served as they should be. It shouldn't be about increasing your revenue to accommodate for a bigger paycheque, I think it should be for the investment of storytelling. I know I know.... I sound like a real artist here but I really believe it. And all approaches need to "pay the bills" at the end of the day. A company that is true to their craft, elevates their creative options, and pushes themselves as artists are the businesses that survive. Again knowledge we all know.

People forget how emotionally harnessed weddings are for most. That pushing out projects for the sake of wanting to take on more projects, more weddings, more clients, is something careless that companies STILL do and isn't the "be all end all."

The Bottom Line

Alright I'll stop my rant and get to the bottom line of it all. I'm someone who cares. Period. End of sentence. I try my hardest to understand my couples, give them moments alone, make an atmosphere while they're together, leave them with a positive impression of me..... whatever the needs are to make sure my clients are comfortable means everything to me. THOSE are those "small moments in between" we're talking about, and that's what I chase as an artist. If you're looking for someone that still believes in the artistry of weddings than look no further, let's talk, and see what you have planned. It's a collaboration and vision of everyone involved, I'm there to help make it the perfect outcome it can be.

If you want to chat then you can fill out my contact form and we can start the conversation.

See more from my videography here.

Photos of me by the amazingly talented Shannon Laliberte.

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