It’s been a busy winter - and feels like AGES since I’ve added to this series - but I’m back with a vendor spotlight you are sure to love! (Be sure to check out previous installments in this series if you’re looking for a classical guitarist or stylist for your big day).
This week, I bring to you an amazingly talented colleague of mine, Eric Mann, owner of Unreel Films. Eric and his team are a dream to work with, and he brings such an effervescent energy to the room! Read on - and view on - to learn more about how he can capture the essence of your wedding in stunning fashion.
Q: What led you to weddings, specifically, and how long have you been in the industry?
A: I first came to New York as an actor, performed on the National Tour of A Chorus Line, and worked both regionally and in New York. After about three years in between acting jobs, I had all this creative energy but nothing to put that energy into unless I was hired for a job, and so I picked up a camera one day, taught myself filming and editing, and found an incredible passion for telling stories through film. I also grew up painting and I always think of film/videography as a mesh between painting and acting/storytelling, so it truly is a perfect fit! After about a year of playing with a camera, I started my company Unreel Films, LLC in 2013, and have filmed, directed, editing, produced, and written over 300 individual promos, commercials, short films, documentaries, dance/music videos, and weddings. We also are so lucky to work with The Juilliard School on a regular basis for a lot of their promos. Within the first year of starting my own company, I filmed my first wedding (for a friend) and absolutely loved it!
Q: Tell me a bit about the person behind the job and how you became a wedding videographer.
A: I adore telling stories through film, and to me weddings are extra special because it is such a beautiful moment in time where family, friends, and all loved ones come together to celebrate a union between two people. There is so much love there on that day, and to be able to capture that spirit not only between the couple, but also all the family and friends, is unbelievably moving and inspiring as a wedding videographer. It is always such a beautiful “story,” it’s just a real life story instead of a fictional story and that’s what makes it so much fun and why I love filming them.
Q: What do you love most about being a wedding videographer?
A: I love capturing the feel like I mentioned above, but also I love getting to know the couple the day of because the photographer and videographer help to usher them throughout the day. It’s amazing to be able to support them and create a trust with them since there is so many emotions abiding during the day.
Q: Tell me about your most memorable and fun wedding.
A: I really have loved every wedding that I’ve filmed, but one time we got to use a drone to get some establishing B-Roll shots and that was really awesome! We were filming the wedding in Connecticut, and a police car drove by when we were getting drone shots outside of this awesome Victorian home, and the crew and I froze up like we were in big trouble, but the cop came over and was like: “What drone is that?” with a big smile on his face! That was pretty awesome!
Q: What does a typical wedding day look like for you?
A: Usually, it’s a packed event for me, especially in the morning, and I’m running between the two different parties getting ready. Once the couple comes together it’s slightly less running around, but we are always moving and that’s a lot of fun.
Q: What is your favorite part of a wedding day? OR What is the best part of your job?
A: Mmm. I always love the food when we can eat it, but I don’t know if that is because when I film I forget that I’m hungry, and then by the time the food comes at the end I’m always like this is the BEST FOOD EVER! And it probably is, but it’s just heightened because I haven’t eaten! All kidding aside, I really love the ceremony, and even when I have just emailed the couple back and forth and only know them for a short while, I always get a little emotional. It’s just extremely powerful seeing all the love that is coming out of everyone at that moment and it’s really special.
Q: From your experience, what should couples ask a potential videographer in the interview process?
A: I think it’s really important to be as clear as you can be in what you want the final product to look like. I always tell people we can scale it up or tone it down to what they would like. Obviously, a very cinematic wedding video will have more elements and cost a bit more, but if that is what you want and you have the budget, I say go for it. If you need to scale back, that’s totally doable and sometimes even gets to the heart of the day more than a big production wedding video, since you are not concerned with the shots, and more concerned with capturing the essence. I feel like I always first and foremost go with capturing the essence, but sometimes it’s fun to play with cool shots, too. It’s a balance. But again, I think it’s really what the couple wants and how they want the feel of their wedding to be. That definitely informs the role that I play that day. And I always try to listen to what the couple’s needs are.
Q: On the day of the wedding, what are your exact roles?
A: The photographer runs the show in terms of logistics of shots. The videographer is there to capture the spirit of the day. Occasionally, I will ask for a specific shot, but mostly I am there to be a fly on the wall and get all the good moments!
Q: What are three main qualities that an excellent wedding videographer should have?
A: Listening (huge!), not being invasive (I’ve had many people say thank you that we weren’t up in people’s faces because it’s not my day - it’s the couple’s day and everyone who came), and having fun (guests always love the videographer and it’s important to feel like you are just there to have fun with them so they are loose around the camera and don’t tense up - although maybe not too loose!).
Q: What makes you unique from other wedding videographers?
A: I think because I do a variety of different film projects and not solely weddings, I get to come in to a wedding with a fresh eye. Not to say those who film weddings on a regular basis aren’t amazing, because they totally are, but I feel that because I make short films and documentaries and dance videos I get the sense of how to tell a story really well, and that is what the wedding video is - a short documentary of the story of two people on a particular day where lots of dancing happens!
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you can give your potential clients?
A: Make the wedding the ideal wedding for you. It’s a beautiful celebration of who you are, individually and collectively, and if something doesn’t feel right to you in terms of the event, make it unique and make it work for you. Also, it’s a whirlwind of a day (which is partially why I’m there because it will fly by), but also enjoy the day as much as you can. It’s definitely a lot and a lot to take in, but if you have a chance to just create some space in the day in your head and appreciate all the love, it will feel so good!
Q: Where do you draw your wedding inspiration from?
A: I really try and find the really touching moments throughout the day. No one is ever going to capture all of them, but I try to keep my eyes peeled for really touching moments.
Q: Tell me one thing we might not otherwise know about you.
A: I love to laugh, tell stories, dance, and obviously film. And I have an extra vertebrae in my spine. It didn’t make me taller though!
Q: Do you have any special discounts or offers for Unreel Films at this time that my readers should know about?
A: I don’t really have special discounts because I ebb and flow the budget to what the couple needs exactly, but if you are having a wedding in the Galapagos Islands, I’ll figure out a way to cut back the pricing ;) [Editor's Note: Eric and I both suffer from acute wanderlust, and I, too, would be more than happy to negotiate pricing/travel fees on destination weddings or those out of the tri-state market. Couples around the world, hit me up to learn more!]
Q: Any last piece of advice for newly-engaged couples?
A: Have fun and bask in the joy of the day. Much love!!