Welcome to our new How to Master series, where we dive into the art of capturing unforgettable moments. First, discover the art of storytelling through the lens of weddings and the secrets to creating cinematic masterpieces that stand the test of time with world-renowned wedding filmmakers Jay and Mack Films.

Jay and Mack unlock the latest techniques, trends, and insights that will redefine the wedding filmmaking landscape. 

 

The internet tells us you’ve published wedding videos on YouTube and social media since 2017. How did you start creating content, and has wedding filmmaking always been your niche?

J&MF: Our journey into wedding videography began slightly earlier, in 2016, though it truly gained momentum in 2017. My (Jay) initial inspiration struck unexpectedly while I was working as a registered nurse. Watching a colleague’s wedding video was a revelation for me – the cinematic quality and emotive storytelling transformed what I thought a wedding video could be - it truly felt like a movie. This experience ignited a passion for capturing life's significant moments through video, with the goal of delving into wedding videography.

Our first venture into this field was serendipitous. After creating a travel video from a trip to Hawaii, we were presented with an exciting opportunity. A friend of Mack's sister reached out to us to film her wedding in Paso Robles. We eagerly embraced this chance, marking our official entry into wedding videography.

While we have explored various realms of videography, we gradually realized that our true passion was documenting weddings. The unique joy and challenge of capturing the essence of each couple's special day resonated deeply with us. This realization steered us towards specializing in this niche of multi-day destination weddings, where we strive to excel in storytelling and capturing real, unscripted moments.

 

What was the biggest challenge in starting a wedding film business, and when did you start to see Jay and Mack Films taking off?

Reflecting on our journey, discovering our unique style and voice was the most significant challenge. In the early years, we were caught up in creating what we perceived as 'cool,' appealing to couples and impressing fellow videographers. However, this approach led us to over-direct weddings and focus excessively on flashy visual effects in post-production. While our work was well-received, it didn't quite fulfil us artistically.

This pursuit of constant innovation and the pressure to surpass our previous work eventually led to creative burnout. The turning point came with a particular wedding that challenged our established methods and perspectives. This experience, although incredibly stressful at the time, became a catalyst for a profound transformation in our philosophy, work approach, and brand identity.

It was this pivotal shift that allowed us to truly find our footing. We aligned our work with our passion by redefining our approach to focus more on authentic storytelling and capturing genuine moments. This change marked the beginning of a new chapter where Jay and Mack Films began to flourish, both as a brand and a business.

 

Can you share a behind-the-scenes insight into your favourite or most challenging wedding shoot and how it influenced your growth as videographers?

J&MF: Coco and Jesse's wedding in Old Mill Park, CA, most profoundly influenced our growth. 

This particular day began with a vision I had meticulously crafted. The groom and his friends were starting their day with a morning surf session, and I envisioned directing this scene with multiple angles and a dramatic wide shot of them rushing into the ocean.

However, upon arriving, the day took an unexpected turn. Before I could direct anything, the groom and his friends spontaneously grabbed their boards and ran towards the ocean. This spontaneous act set the tone for the entire day: we couldn't direct, control, or orchestrate anything. Our only option was to capture the moments as they unfolded.

The stress of this unanticipated approach culminated right before the ceremony. We had been filming the couple in the redwoods, which led to our late arrival at the ceremony site, missing the opportunity to capture certain wedding details. I was overwhelmed and fixated on what I thought was a necessary shot. It was Mack who grounded me, reminding me that the essence of the day – the ceremony – was yet to happen. This moment was a turning point for me, shifting my perspective completely.

We approached the rest of the day with a new mindset, focusing on capturing the events authentically as they occurred. Remarkably, this wedding became a cornerstone piece in our portfolio. Couples resonated deeply with the video, drawn to its realness, honesty, and authenticity. From this experience, we discovered our true voice, embracing it wholeheartedly. Our style, brand, and philosophy underwent a complete 180-degree turn, and we've been leaning into this authentic approach ever since.

 

Wedding planning can be an extremely busy, stressful, but rewarding task for couples today - how do you manage client expectations and ensure their vision alights with your creative approach before the wedding day?

Our process begins with a video call with our couples, where we set clear expectations about our documentary style of filming. We emphasize that our approach is to authentically document the day as it unfolds, without making it anything more or less than what it naturally is. This means we don’t focus on overly produced, directed, or posed shots. If a couple seeks that kind of production, we honestly communicate that we might not be the best fit for their needs.

What works to our advantage is the brand identity we have established over the years. It naturally attracts couples who appreciate and desire our style of videography. This mutual understanding fosters trust, allowing couples to be confident in our ability to capture their day truthfully and beautifully.

A crucial aspect of our process, and one that sets us apart, is our focus on multi-day celebrations. This approach allows us to spend time with the couple before the main event. These additional interactions are key in building a comfortable rapport, ensuring the couple can be themselves around us. It's this comfort that enables us to capture the most authentic and natural moments, which are the essence of our documentary style.

 

What’s your philosophy on capturing candid moments versus staged shots on a wedding day? Have you established any secret Jay and Mack techniques over the years to achieve the best results?

J&MF: Our core philosophy is centred around capturing real, unscripted moments. We believe the true essence of a wedding day lies in those spontaneous expressions of joy and happiness, not in artificially posed scenarios. It's the genuine, heartfelt moments that couples cherish when they look back on their day, not us instructing them to hold poses that feel unnatural.

However, we do recognize the importance of a little direction, especially during the couple's portrait session. We understand that being natural in front of a camera isn't always instinctive, so we provide gentle guidance to facilitate authentic interactions. Our approach involves softly directing 2 to 3 scenes that encourage the couple to engage with each other in a way that feels true to them and looks visually appealing on camera.

This limited direction serves a dual purpose: it prevents the couple from feeling overwhelmed by constant instructions and allows us to maintain the session's spontaneity and fun. Our aim isn't perfection but to embrace each couple's natural flow and unique dynamics. We let the moments unfold as they may, capturing the beauty in the imperfections and the authenticity of their interactions.

Outside of these lightly directed scenes, our focus remains steadfast on documenting the day as it naturally unfolds. This blend of minimal direction and candid capture is the essence of our technique, allowing us to create a true, emotional narrative of the wedding day. 

 

Music is well known to play a big part in adding mood and atmosphere to video content, and in particular driving emotion in wedding films. Noting that Jay has been on the record as stating ‘soundtracks are the best parts of movies’, what are the best characteristics of a piece of music that you look for in a successful edit, and is the selection process something you work on closely with the client?

J&MF: And I firmly stand by that statement! 

The perfect piece of music often defies description; it's an intuitive feeling more than anything. When we hear a track and can immediately visualize a beautiful, poignant scene, we know we’ve found the right one.

If we delve into specifics, there are a few critical characteristics we look for:

Build, Anticipation, and Pacing: A song with a compelling build-up leading to a climactic point is essential. This structure allows us to weave in elements like vows and toasts, aligning them with the song's climax, often reflecting the day's most emotive moments.

Chord Progression and Melody: We're attentive to harmonic progressions and melodies that inherently evoke emotion, resonating with the day's atmosphere and the couple's story.

Regarding client involvement, it varies. For couples who share our keen interest in music, we collaborate closely. We curate a selection of songs and invite them to choose their favourites. However, most couples entrust us entirely with this choice, a responsibility we take very seriously. In selecting music, we consider factors like the couple's tastes, their personalities, the captured moments, the spoken words about them, and the overall ambience of the day, including elements like weather and setting.

We often prefer to keep the music a surprise until the final viewing. This approach can be powerful, as the couple usually hears the chosen song for the first time in the context of their wedding film. This unique experience often creates a profound and lasting emotional connection with the music. Whenever they hear that song in the future, it evokes the intense emotions and memories of their wedding day, a testament to the power of well-chosen music in storytelling.

Jay and Mack films

 

Editing is a huge part of your job, but it can be a labour of love for some – particularly when your shooting schedule is busy! Do you have any favourite time-saving post-production techniques that allow you to streamline your workflow and get through any backlog? 

J&MF: Admittedly, we haven't discovered any magical shortcuts in our post-production process, primarily because we dedicate ourselves to creating a unique video for each couple. Our approach is highly personalized, which means standardized shortcuts don't quite fit into our workflow. However, we do have a structured process that maximizes efficiency while maintaining the individuality of each film:

1. Sync and Cull: We start by synchronizing and culling the main parts of the day, like the ceremony and toasts. This step lays the foundation for the narrative structure of the film.

2. Audio Selection: Listening for overarching themes, we select the best audio snippets that authentically tell the couple's story.

3. Music and Narrative: Next, choosing the right music guides the overall narrative structure of the film.

4. A-Roll Placement: We then determine where the primary footage (A-roll) will be placed, setting the key visual elements of the story.

5. B-Roll Labeling: The gaps left in the timeline are labeled for B-roll, guiding us on what type of additional footage is needed to enhance the story.

6. Intentional B-Roll Culling: Mack then takes the lead in meticulously selecting B-roll that aligns with the labeled sections, ensuring each shot adds value to the narrative.

7. Final Touches: Lastly, I (Jay) take over for the finishing touches, which include cleaning up the edit and mastering the color and sound, ensuring a polished and cohesive final product.

This methodical approach, while time-intensive, ensures that each wedding film is a bespoke piece of art that reflects the couple's unique story. It's a labor of love, and we find that the quality and personalization of our films are well worth the effort.

Jay and Mack 

 

Equipment lists for a wedding shoot can be extensive! What are your favourite pieces of shoot equipment currently, and do you have any recommendations for those wanting to get into videography on a budget?

J&MF: You're right. The equipment list for a wedding shoot can be quite extensive. Currently, our go-to gear includes the Canon C70 cinema cameras. We're particularly fond of them for their impressive dynamic range, flexibility, and ergonomic design. These features enable us to concentrate on capturing moments while ensuring the footage is both beautiful and versatile for post-production editing.

That said, we recognize the Canon C70 is a significant investment, particularly for those just beginning their journey in videography. For beginners, we recommend starting with more budget-friendly options. In fact, we have curated a selection of beginner-friendly equipment in our Amazon shop. This collection is tailored to those who are looking for quality gear without breaking the bank. It includes a range of cameras and accessories that strike a balance between affordability and performance, perfect for those who are just starting out and looking to learn the ropes of wedding videography:

Remember, while high-end equipment like the Canon C70 offers certain advantages, the key to great videography lies in skill, creativity, and an eye for capturing emotion and storytelling. Quality gear can enhance these elements, but they are not solely dependent on it.

 

Working as a couple in the industry, how does that balance work, and do you have defined roles on a shoot or when it comes to editing?

J&MF: As a couple working together, we’ve found that clearly defined roles both in shooting and editing are integral to our workflow and the quality of our final product.

Shooting: Our roles are distinct yet complementary. I (Jay) focus on capturing wide to medium shots, which provide the overall context and setting of the scene. Meanwhile, Mack specializes in tight angles, capturing detailed and intimate moments. This division of labor allows us to cover a broader range of perspectives and ensures that we don't miss any crucial moments. During key events like the ceremony and toasts, we have individualized roles that further ensure comprehensive coverage. If situations arise where we need to split up, this clear delineation of responsibilities allows us to efficiently cover all bases independently.

Editing: Our roles are similarly defined, but they cater to our individual strengths and preferences. I take the lead in the creative aspects, focusing on building the story and narrative of the film. This involves selecting the key moments, structuring the flow, and weaving in audio and visual elements to create an emotionally resonant piece. Mack, on the other hand, handles tasks like culling footage and working on documentary edits, which require a more methodical and straightforward approach.

This balance works well for us, as it plays to our individual strengths while ensuring a cohesive and efficient workflow. It allows us to stay focused and excel in our respective areas, ultimately contributing to creating a beautiful and well-crafted wedding film.

Jay and Mack

  

Finally - what are your top 3 tips for someone looking to get into wedding videography in 2024?

J&MF:
1. Invest in Learning and Practice: Before diving into the business aspect of wedding videography, focus on honing your craft. This means mastering the technical skills of using a camera and editing software and understanding the art of storytelling through film. Take the time to learn from experienced videographers, attend workshops, and practice relentlessly. Remember, the quality of your work will eventually speak for you.

2. Focus on Authenticity Over Trends: While it's important to stay updated with industry trends, don't let them dictate your style. The essence of memorable wedding videography lies in capturing real moments and telling a genuine story. Couples cherish videos that reflect the true spirit of their special day, not just the trendy aesthetics. Stay true to the craft of storytelling and let your work resonate with authenticity.

3. Build a Distinctive Brand: Once you're comfortable with the basics, concentrate on developing a unique brand. This involves more than just a logo or a website; it's about creating an identity that reflects your style and philosophy. Your brand should communicate what sets you apart from other videographers in the market. Whether it's your approach to filming, editing style, or how you interact with clients, make sure it aligns with the brand you want to build. A distinctive brand will attract the right clients and establish your presence in the industry.

 

About Jay and Mack Films

Jay and Mack are a husband-and-wife destination wedding and elopement videography team based in San Diego. They create wedding films for big dreamers and hopeless romantics, wild adventurers and down-to-earth lovers worldwide.

 

JAY AND MACK’S BEST MUSIC FOR WEDDINGS PLAYLIST

Hey! Boy!

Waveform of Hey! Boy!
02:37
80 BPM

Composer

  • Patrick James Bolster
  • Scott Bradley Steven

Publishers

  • Universal Publishing Production Music Australia Pty. Ltd. [APRA]

Labels

  • Vitamin A

Weekend

Waveform of Weekend
03:42
115 BPM

Composer

  • Aidan Hogg

Publishers

  • Universal Publishing Production Music Australia Pty. Ltd. [APRA]

Labels

  • Vitamin A

Solstice

Waveform of Solstice
02:43
140 BPM

Composer

  • Thomas Jack Robson
  • Jonathon Deering

Publishers

  • Universal Trailer Series [PRS]

Labels

  • Universal Trailer Series

By Starlight

Waveform of By Starlight
02:43
130 BPM

Composer

  • Thomas Jack Robson
  • Espen Fahlen

Publishers

  • Universal Trailer Series [PRS]

Labels

  • Universal Trailer Series

Light It Up

Waveform of Light It Up
02:41
165 BPM

Composer

  • Will May
  • Jack Monroe

Publishers

  • Atmosphere Music Ltd. [PRS]

Labels

  • Atmosphere

All I Need

Waveform of All I Need
03:24
128 BPM

Composer

  • Kaiden Adams

Publishers

  • Atmosphere Music Ltd. [PRS]

Labels

  • Atmosphere

Found Love

Waveform of Found Love
04:20
117 BPM

Composer

  • Jon Buster Cottam

Publishers

  • Focus Music (Publishing) Ltd [PRS]

Labels

  • Focus Music

With You I'm Alive

Waveform of With You I'm Alive
02:53
130 BPM

Composer

  • James George
  • Jennifer June

Publishers

  • Focus Music (Publishing) Ltd [PRS]

Labels

  • Focus Music

Amethyst

Waveform of Amethyst
03:18
138 BPM

Composer

  • Dmitriy Alexandrovich Mityukhin
  • Ros Stephen

Publishers

  • Universal Trailer Series [PRS]

Labels

  • Universal Trailer Series

Makes Us Come Alive

Waveform of Makes Us Come Alive
02:12
116 BPM

Composer

  • Christopher James Dececio
  • Andrea Christina Obeid

Publishers

  • Atmosphere Music Ltd. [PRS]

Labels

  • Atmosphere

Falling in Love Again

Waveform of Falling in Love Again
02:20
120 BPM

Composer

  • Henry Richard Obree Parsley

Publishers

  • Atmosphere Music Ltd. [PRS]

Labels

  • Atmosphere

Another Tragic Love Song

Waveform of Another Tragic Love Song
03:27
105 BPM

Composer

  • Jaron Takach
  • Derek Long
  • Jonathan Averbook

Publishers

  • First Digital Music [BMI]

Labels

  • Capitol Studio Masters

Hot Hands

Waveform of Hot Hands
01:57
116 BPM

Composer

  • Jason Glover
  • Mark David Allaway
  • Andrew David Prosser

Publishers

  • Focus Music (Publishing) Ltd [PRS]

Labels

  • Focus Music

Title Stems Length
Man on set with film camera

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