This past week, two members of the Archaius Creative team, Ryan and Dave, had the opportunity to attend WPPI 2019 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar, WPPI stands for Wedding & Portrait Photography International, and while its name caters most specifically to photographers, our team found tons of opportunities for videophiles to join in the fun.
As someone unfamiliar with casinos and the whole Vegas scene, the path from our Luxor hotel room to the Mandalay Bay convention hall was a daunting labyrinth of slot machines and cocktail waitresses. Finally, we started seeing hotel guests wearing pink and white badges that matched the WPPI branding we’d seen leading up to the convention, so we breathed a sigh of relief that we’d at least made it to the right hotel. We knew the trail was getting hot when we passed people deep in conversation and heard phrases like “F-Stop”, “bouncing the light”, and “high shutter speed.” At last, a large WPPI floor display welcomed us at the entrance to a set of escalators and we quickly made our way down to pick up our badges and explore the sights and sounds that awaited us at WPPI.
PhotoFlashDrive’s PlayBooks Disrupt Wedding Film Distribution Norms
The WPPI show floor was a playground for photographers and filmmakers alike, with representatives from all the major camera manufacturers offering tons of free swag, raffle prizes, and even gear cleaning.
We had a chance to meet up with the team at PhotoFlashDrive and take their new PlayBook for a spin. In case you haven’t been introduced to PhotoFlashDrive, they offer a vast array of customization options for thumb drives and hard drives that allow filmmakers to create a truly unique delivery method that best matches their specific branding. If you haven’t had a chance to check out their newest offering, the PlayBook is a game changer for how wedding filmmakers deliver films to clients. It has a professional, elegant, and customizable presentation. The video autoplays upon opening the cover, has a 2 hour continuous battery life, and offers 4GB of flash storage. We’re excited to see how the platform takes off and look forward to guiding filmmakers toward ensuring their videos are optimized for viewing on the device.
2. The Wedding Filmmaker Community Never Disappoints
On the convention floor we met up with our friends Amber and Garrette from Eyenamics at the Sony Alpha stage, and that’s when the fun really began. The Bairds represent everything great about the wedding filmmaking community: excellent at their craft, generous with their time, knowledge, and tips, and beyond a blast to hang out with!
In a sea of photographers, it was refreshing to connect over things like sound design, pacing, shot order, and other tricks of the trade exclusive to the media of film. Every night at WPPI was filled with laughter, encouragement, and camaraderie with our fellow filmmakers. Along with the Bairds, we met folks from around the country who shot wedding videos. From Vancouver to Huntington Beach, from Texas to Australia, our tribe covered a vast region of the globe, but we all spoke a common language with film.
Alongside the bustling convention show floor of vendor booths, WPPI also offers tons of educational content in the form of platform presentations, panel discussions, master classes, photo walks, and more. Ryan and I had a difficult time choosing between the topics, but we knew there were two that had to make the list:
3. Jordan Bunch Exposes Hidden Ways to Add Value for Filmmakers and Couples Alike
The first class that Ryan and I attended together was Jordan Bunch’s presentation on Video Upsells. Jordan runs several diverse brands and offerings in the wedding filmmaking community, including Film Mavericks, Ladybird Studios, and Jordan Bunch Productions. Needless to say, he’s entrenched in the industry and has many accomplishments under his belt when it comes to running successful videography companies.
Jordan’s session was particularly enlightening for us since it shed light on common pain points experienced by our wedding videography clients. It was helpful to understand situations that arise when negotiating and selling to brides, and it reaffirmed our mission of supporting filmmakers with any deliverable products they provide to their couples. Jordan pulled the curtain back on how he guides his inquiring brides through the sales process. By engaging in meaningful conversation, together they come to the realization that the couple desires more from their filmmaker than what Jordan’s baseline package offers. This was an especially valuable strategy considering that the low cost, entry level package is one of the primary reasons that brides are attracted to Jordan’s company in the first place. It was amazing to learn how Jordan leveraged that incentive without devaluing the services his company offers, and while also maintaining integrity on the upsells the couple ended up purchasing.
Ryan and I were interested to realize that a large part of a filmmaker’s budget can be generated through add-ons, which usually take the form of different editing offerings. It seems that from Jordan’s presentation, filmmakers will largely capture the same amount and style of video content from each wedding, however, it’s through the various ways in which this content is edited that budgets increase and value is added.
The presentation wrapped with a few mock phone calls with one of Jordan’s teammates representing common attitudes brides take when inquiring. Overall, the class was super informative and contained insightful knowledge that all filmmakers can benefit from, no matter how long they’ve been active in their craft.
4. Love Stories TV is Where It’s At
Next, we attended what was the pinnacle session of WPPI for us: Rachel Jo Silver from Love Story TV’s presentation on Social Media Marketing for Wedding Videographers and Photographers. Basically, Love Story TV’s platform is the best thing to happen for the wedding filmmaking community since the DSLR hit the scene several years ago. Until now, there hasn’t been an effective home base for wedding films that serves brides as much as it does the filmmakers themselves. Rachel’s team has cracked the code and built a platform that will forever change the way couples seek out vendors as well as how filmmakers market and display their work. On Love Stories TV, it’s the wedding films that take center stage, a truly unique position considering they’re traditionally thrown in alongside all other vendor offerings, or even as an after thought. With the films as the hub of the wheel, all other vendors radiate outward as connected spokes. Photographers, florists, caterers, and venues, are all searchable through the videos in which they’re associated or appear.
Rachel also educated the audience on the importance of vertically cropping videos on Instagram - something that Archaius Creative is committed to supporting. In fact, we’re currently offering both a Premiere Pro project file and a Final Cut X project library preloaded with sequences ready with Instagram aspect ratios for free on our website! Check it out when you get a chance!
Alongside explaining to the crowd the benefits that Love Stories TV offers to filmmakers, Rachel unveiled their new and exciting offering for wedding photographers: the ability for them to upload their photos for weddings whose videos are already uploaded to their platform! This is a huge deal because the more wedding vendors that contribute to Love Stories TV, the more exposure every filmmaker and other vendor receives. By adding in this offering, Love Stories TV is helping to encourage synergy, cross-promotion, and ultimately bridge the all-too-often contentious gap between photographers and filmmakers in the wedding industry. We’re beyond excited to see where Love Stories TV heads and can’t wait to support filmmakers in using the platform to better their business and the industry as a whole.
5. Alex Douglas Elevates the Wedding Videography Industry
WPPI 2019 wrapped this year with an unprecedented surprise at its closing awards ceremony. Throughout the conference, photographers and filmmakers alike are judged by world class artists, with the Bairds and Jordan Bunch among those serving on the filmmaking panel. Through diligent and careful consideration, these judges nominate winners across numerous photography and filmmaking categories. The pinnacle of the award ceremony however, is to receive the Bill Hurter Excellence Award - the highest honor awarded across all categories of both photo and film.
2019 marked an especially momentous occasion in which Alex Douglas from Sculpting with Time was awarded this honor - the first time a filmmaker ever won this title! Alex is no stranger to the awards stage, having quite a few accomplishments to his team’s name, including 3 other WPPI 2019 awards and WPPI 2018’s Grand Film Award last year. This time however, Alex took home a win when running against not only his fellow filmmakers, but photographers as well. This recognition may not come as a shock if you’ve ever seen a Sculpting with Time film, but at a convention like WPPI that is largely dominated by photographers, Alex’s win represents a huge turning point for the filmmaking community.
We got the chance to hang out with Alex after the awards ceremony and we can attest that he’s not only a brilliant artist, but a caring, enthusiastic, and genuine human being. No less, he’s also the keeper of many secrets of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas. If you ever find yourself lucky enough to spend some time with him, be sure to ask about his special off-the-menu drink at the Chandelier, and hopefully you can share a pizza from the parlor hidden behind a movable wall. Take caution when challenging him to a game of foosball however, don’t let his humble nature fool you!
We ended our trip to WPPI 2019 riding a wave of encouragement and inspiration, and we’re so thankful we finally made the trip! Hopefully next year we’ll be able to return and celebrate another win for the filmmaking community!