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The Evolution of Indian Wedding Cinematography

Are you getting married? Is the hunt for the perfect photographer and cinematographer weighing you down? Are you confused by the myriad terms of image-capturing jargon thrown your way? Traditional, journalistic, documentary, cinematic…? If your answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above, breathe easy now, you’re in the right place.

Ace wedding photographer, Arjun Kartha has you covered with everything you need to know about Indian Wedding Cinematography.

What’s the big deal about wedding cinema?
Cinematography is the science or the art of motion picture photography. Simply put, it means shooting videos. The term originates in the film and television industry and has percolated into the wedding film industry now. This is because like wedding photography, wedding cinema has also evolved over the years. The days of rolling video footage documenting every single guest entry and sagan lifaafa delivery are over, thankfully. In fact, I have a video exactly like that from our own wedding and frankly, we’ve never had the heart to watch the entire film. It is hours of footage, spread over 6 DVDs. That’s not my idea of a wedding film.

Wedding Cinema or Cinematic Wedding Films are high quality wedding movies produced in the style of a Bollywood or Hollywood film. There’s dialogue, emotion, music and dancing. They’re creative, intimate and much more personal. Most importantly, they have a story with a clear beginning, middle and end, with the couple playing the central protagonists.

How is this different from “traditional” wedding films?
Traditionally, Indian wedding films were made in a particular way: endless, monotonous footage, merely documenting every single thing that happens at the wedding from start to finish. They were very long and almost always in a common template.

Modern day Wedding Cinema is an almost polar opposite. Today, filmmakers look at each wedding as an opportunity to create a new, unique film. Everyone involved in the filmmaking process – from the director, to the cinematographers or DoPs and the editors, are highly skilled professionals and artists in their own right. There is an effort to know the couple, their families, their story and what makes them click so as to weave that into their film, making it unique.

Apart from the story, there is great emphasis on high quality video capture, interviews to document the couples’ story in their own words as well as those of their close friends and family, and also tight editing. All of this is evident when you watch a complete, meaningful and unique film that contains every single important moment but is pacy enough to keep the viewer hooked.

What has brought on the popularity of this modern style of wedding cinema?
The growing popularity of this genre of filmmaking can be attributed to both, the demand and supply.

Couples getting married today are much more aware of the trends prevalent abroad and expect the same level of creativity and quality for themselves. The new style of wedding cinema is much more intimate and personal, making it more relatable and relevant to them. Also, wedding movie trailers are a byproduct of modern wedding cinema and today, where nothing is real unless it’s on social media, trailers shared online are quite the status symbol for couples. Most importantly, couples have made wedding photography and cinema a priority and are willing to pay the right price for good quality.

On the other hand, film crews also have unprecedented access to high quality video, audio and lighting equipment. The wedding film is approached like a regular production, with a storyline discussion, filming and interview schedule, lighting setup etc., allowing for a higher quality outcome. The crew are all highly skilled professionals in their own respective fields with vast experience in commercial film/TV/news filming. Their decision to channel their expertise towards wedding cinema comes from the satisfaction of creating a personal film as well as the opportunity to earn a fee that properly compensates their talent and creativity.

What should you look out for when looking for a wedding movie crew?
Style: First and foremost, the wedding filmmakers’ style should resonate with you. With so many different crews out there, it’s important to look at their work and decide what kind of movie you want. Do you want it to be more conversational or more documentary? Do you prefer storytelling and substance or you’d like grand frames and special effects? There are no wrong answers, just what is right for you and resonates with your personality as a couple.

Budget: Like wedding photography, wedding films are available across all budgets. The gap between the most reasonable and most expensive is vast and you need to identify the bracket that works for you. Do your research, set the bar by finding out what the industry leaders are charging and try and find a middle path between the style and quality you want and the budget you can afford.

Compatibility: We feel it is important to meet your film crew, specially the director of the film, before you make a decision. The crew will surround you during your wedding and be with you every step of the way. In fact, you will see them more than you will your partner, your parents and your best friends. So it is important that they have a personality that you like and can see yourself spending that much time with them!

Experience: Like every service, the final product of a wedding film is personalized and depends on many factors – the skill and dedication of the crew, the interest taken and involvement of the couple as well as the friends and family, time set aside by the couple to get good shots, open communication between the couple and crew to maintain expectations etc. With so many variable factors, one of the most important ones becomes the crew’s experience – those who have a reputation of consistently delivering a good body of work to their clients, being upfront about deliverables, timelines and other processes would be more preferable to those with bad street cred!

One Stop Solution: Lastly, it would make your life much easier to work with a team that can deliver candid wedding photography and cinematic wedding movies under one banner. It cuts out on duplication of coordination, effort and people management.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to modern day wedding cinema and will make the right choice for yourself and your wedding. Have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and we will be happy to help answer them for you.

About the Author
Arjun is a national award winning wedding photographer who believes in creating beautiful, off-beat and fun wedding memories which will last for generations to come. Along with his wife Praerna, they typically work as a husband-wife team, and are pioneers of the fledgling candid wedding photography genre in India. Arjun’s work can be found on his website, the film showcase or on Facebook

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