Re:Frame Sessions with Jason Magbanua and Alex Hill
October 23, 2009 -- Due to times constraints on Wednesday, I was not able to get my thoughts published from the day's sessions at Re:Frame. So this article contains my thoughts on those two sessions
First Session on Wednesday with Jason Magbanua
The first session of the day was led by award-winning cinematographer, Jason Magbanua. Jason Magbanua is a wedding videographer from Manila, Philippines. His meteoric rise to the international wedding industry scene is phenomenal, in the last three years alone, he has won a total of 25 CEAs and AAAs, including four golds in last year's WEVA Creative Excellence Awards.
The topic of Jason's workshop was "Tying it all together." All this week at Re:Frame we have been given a lot of great information on marketing, shooting, and effective business management. Jason's talk was centered on helping us bring of all these elements together in order to create a very successful and profitable business.
Similar to what we heard from Jasmine Star, Jason is a big proponent of keeping it real (K.I.R.) One way he keeps it real is by acknowledging that not every video he creates can be the best, and acknowledging that despite his many awards there are other great cinematographers out there, so possibly with even greater skills. Jason brought up that in the Philippines the average pay is just $10 / day, so filmmakers in that country don't have the same luxury's of owning the latest and greatest gear. Yet, despite not having access to the latest cameras, steadicams, jibs, and gliders - Philippine Cinematographers in the past year have won many of the top cinematography awards. This should serve as an important reminder to all of us (myself included) that open our wallets every time we see a 'cool' and somewhat affordable tool. Slick moves look great, there's no doubt - but learning how to capture and edit a story is so much more important. We should also keep in mind that just because expensive gear may be out of reach, doesn't mean we can't find creative means to achieve our own unique style.
On the flip side, when a Cinematographer from the Philippines becomes noticed in the industry and ultimately gets hired to shoot in the states or elsewhere, the money he makes provides for a much higher standard of living back home
Another important point that Jason reminded us of is that you can't make the gear you shoot with your competitive edge - because ultimately anyone can have the same gear. Your personality, creative talents, business and marketing savvy, when combined, become your competitive advantage. One without the other just doesn't work. Most of know many great artistic talents that are 'starving,' while we watch other seemingly less talented individuals excel.
Jason was an open book with regard to information about his business. I've mentioned in past Re:Frame articles that I published this week, and I will re-state it again here. I am just so impressed with the willingness of videographers to help and share information with each other. This is also true of most photographers. This was the case, not just of the presenters, but fellow videographers as well. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner conversations often centered around Q&A amongst our group.
Jason shared with us how he edits, what software he uses to edit, the importance of finding the right music, where he looks to find music, how his company managed to shoot 130 weddings last year, how much he charges, his workflow when creating same day edits, and so much more.
Second Session on Wednesday with Alex Hill
Alex Hill, is a partner of Elysium Productions, one of the most successful wedding videography studios in the world. Elysium has won over fifteen industry awards and has been named one of
Event DV's Top 25 Hottest & Most Influential Studios in the World
two years in a row.
Alex's session was titled "High Quantity & High Quality - it IS possible!," A perfect title for this session since his company often films multiple weddings on the same day, while consistently delivering a high-end product to their clients.
In the time allotted, Alex went over virtually every aspect of his business, providing insight into his business processes - including sales, production planning, training, business systems, shooting, and post production.
Alex's session reminded us of the importance of running your small business as if you were a big business - with proper systems in place. This way it won't start to crack as your company grows. The adage "If you fail to plan - plan to fail" is never more true in the cinematography business, since creative people are often the worst at mundane business tasks.
Alex also stressed the importance of keeping the shooting style consistent throughout the company. This way if one of your second shooters ends up working with someone else in the company, they'll know their roles and what's expected of them.
Alex shared with us how he manages some of the most important aspects of his business and did so with incredible detail. He described the incentives they provide to their editors; what they look for when hiring; and the software his company uses to manage client contact information as well as video distribution (who got what, how many copies, and when)
Alex's session was a bit shorter than initially planned due to the extra time it took getting everyone back from the afternoon's shootout. Because of this he wasn't able to get too deep into details regarding other aspects of his business (marketing, sales, shooting, and editing), but the information he was able to share will provide invaluable to many of us.