When we started Call It Captivation in the spring of 2016, we were wide-eyed videographers eager to capture and create something special. 20+ hours of YouTube videos and a history of community service seemed qualifying enough for the job – and it was….well, partly.
”You see, what those naïve filmmakers didn't realize at the time was that things don't always go to plan.
Actually, scratch that - they never go to plan.
Weddings, as beautiful as they are, are complex events that dance toe-to-toe between logistics, tradition, strategy, and emotions.
Of course, we went in with the expectation of expecting the unexpected, but it’s one thing to prepare for it and another one anticipating its unwelcomed welcoming.
Now picture this – circa May 2016; We had just wrapped our first wedding ever. It wasn’t perfect and quite honestly isn’t the average wedding structure that we’ve come to expect, but we got through it somehow with camera gear we didn’t own.
Suddenly, I received a Facebook message from my friend sharing that a friend of hers was looking for a wedding videographer and that she had seen that I was looking for work.
The next thing I knew, I was messaging the sweet bride-to-be Ashley. She and Chad her fiance were planning on getting married in San Francisco in June. Although the budget was very small, she would be open to having us come out and film her wedding, knowing that we had little experience.
I remember my mouth dropping just thinking how awesome it was that we were already being asked to travel to film weddings. (I’ll return to this mouth-dropping reaction again once all our camera gear dies in the middle of San Francisco rush hour minutes away from the ceremony)
We weren’t getting paid much for this shoot and we were completely fine with that considering the amazing opportunity and the trust that they were extending to us. I remember going to my mom and asking her if I could use her airline miles that she banked up through her company.
Nearly everything brought for this wedding was rented except for our drone, a lavalier microphone for a cell phone, and an old Canon camera as a backup. Before we knew it, there we were in San Francisco with two backpacks full of camera gear slung over our shoulders walking up and down the hills of death trying to find the hotel.
Miles and gallons of sweat later we arrived at the hotel by the Embarcadero.
We did it. Well, we made it and could now start pointing our cameras at things. Sounds easy for the most part…that is until I received a text from my second shooter that his battery wasn’t charged.
“Hm…that’s odd,” I thought. But I shrugged it off, walked down the hall, and handed him another battery. A few moments later and I got a call. Another dead one. A combination of four-letter words followed as I checked all of the bags to find dead batteries.
”I messed up. I misread the lights on our battery chargers and thought they had charged...when in reality, they were telling me that they were not ready for the job.
And I felt the exact same feeling.
Remember earlier when I said that I’d drop my mouth wide open in amazement again? Well, here I was in between the groom and bride’s room panicking on how I was going to fix this.
I had about 2 bars left and told my second shooter to use the backup Canon camera sparingly.
We got through the prep and we decided to leave a little earlier and call an Uber to pick us up, head back to the hostel, grab the extra chargers and make it to the Palace of Fine Arts in 20 minutes.
Seemed pretty easy right?
As I sat in the back of that car sweating down my back as if I had just climbed those dreadful hills, I realized we had only one choice – get to the Palace of Fine Arts and pray that we found an outlet for the one battery charger we had in the bag.
I bet you can see a pattern here….of course, there were no outlets available. At this point, I wasn’t even shooting for creativity anymore. I just wanted to salvage this wedding, capture as much as I could for the couple, and get home so I could cry and rethink my career plans.
But…..here is where I learned a lesson that has shaped the identity of Call It Captivation. I knew that despite all odds, I was committed and would do whatever I could in my abilities to capture and create something special for this couple.
The silver lining was also the fact that we did have one camera -our backup. They didn’t have a traditional sound system for us to record directly, but we did have a lavalier microphone that would plug directly into my phone.
The backup plan was in full effect. I would bounce around with the one camera we had and I would leave my phone in the officiant’s pocket and pray that the microphone would pick up something other than the gale-force winds that San Francisco was known for.
We made it through the wedding without a hitch! Well, kind of. The phone worked beautifully, but the Canon camera died just as we wrapped up filming a little post-ceremony romantic shoot. I ended up using my iPhone 6 at the time to record a shot of Ashley and Chad on a Trolley and a time-lapse taking that trolley to the reception for dinner.
We eventually were able to get to the dinner site, charge what we could, and end the day strong thankfully.
I remember when it came time to show Ashley and Chad the finished video – I was terrified. I did my best to capture their story with what I had, but it didn’t feel like I had given them the best service.
When they watched the film they responded with so much love and appreciation for paying attention to the details that meant the most to them. The fears I had about “not recording that clip with the better camera,” or “the audio was muffled a bit because of the wind” didn’t even cross their mind. When I shared the struggles that we encountered they were surprised because they wouldn’t have even known.
”I often look back at Ashley and Chad's wedding because it not only was a humbling opportunity extended to us, but because we learned that when things don't go to plan, our commitment to our couples, their stories and their wedding experience is what matters the most.
The backup camera and backup lavalier microphone saved us for this wedding. Ironically, these were ours and deemed the “cheaper” gear out of the bunch.
Since that wedding in 2016, we’ve put in place many fail-safes to protect our workflow so that we can stay focused on the wedding day and the details that matter to our couples.
And the most important thing – our commitment to the couple and their story – has remained at the forefront of our mission.