Vintage Wedding Film: The Sequel
Wedding films aren’t a new idea – you didn’t hear it here first. I know plenty of people who’ve been instructed to watch the VHS that contains their parents and/or their grandparents walk down the aisle (hopefully with less creepy, inappropriate zoom than on Keira Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s in Love Actually, though). And even when filmed on a dodgy camcorder with your great-uncles’ shaky hands and deep breathing, it’s a lovely moment to have forever – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, for VHS, and for DVD.
However, wedding film is coming back, and frankly you may have heard it here first. Old-school, crackly, beautiful film. We’ve all seen the popular resurgence of Polaroid cameras and Instax Mini 8s, and loads of editorials, photography projects and wedding shots are being done on film again. This doesn’t just apply to static film, though. The amazing craft of recording weddings on real film is undergoing a renaissance too, and we are so glad it is. The idea of shooting a wedding video on film makes perfect sense: it’s romantic, authentic, and a labour of love, just like weddings and marriages are. As well as perfect sense, it also makes perfect videos. If you've ever dreamed of being a vintage starlet, this is absolutely the way to do it.
But what even is film to you and I? Surely, you may think, as long as there’s a video of me coming down the aisle or coming out of the church to greet my nearest and dearest, then that’s all that matters, whether on film or live streamed. We spoke to Will Cummock, who owns Ciné Reportage alongside his wife Caroline, to ask why it’s so special, and why you should consider it. When he shoots, he scores. And as the guy who shoots wedding films exclusively on ye olde world-e Super 8 and 16mm film and describes himself as ‘head over heels in love with it’, who better to ask?:
“When we started Ciné Reportage in 2009 only a handful of photographers and filmmakers were shooting weddings on film - Fuji stopped making motion picture film altogether, and Kodak teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. For a while, it felt like we might just have to make the most of film whilst it was still available.
Fortunately, things have totally turned around and more and more people are returning to film - all of the new Star Wars films are being shot on film, Kodak are making their first new Super 8 camera for over 30 years, new film brands are popping up all the time and every hipster seems to have a film camera in their pocket or handbag!
We shoot in super 8 and 16mm film. They both lend an awesome, inimitable quality to the format of the shoot, but they are slightly different. The difference in the formats is simple the size of them. Because 8mm frames are so small, the imperfections and grain are magnified much more in the resulting footage. It has a unique visual feel and for many years it's been a staple choice for artists, music video directors and fashion filmmakers.
16mm has all the same filmic loveliness, but it’s much more subtle. The grain is finer and the resulting images have a glossier, sharper look. Also, as it’s physically bigger, a lot more light can hit it when it’s recording an image. This means we can get stunning results in lighting situations that super 8 film would really struggle with.
Whether Super 8 or 16mm, the film has to sent to labs to be chemically processed and then digitally scanned before I can edit them. We’ve experimented with a great many film labs in Europe and the USA and believe that the image quality we are now receiving is second to none - Our 16mm film is processed and scanned in the UK, super 8 is processed in Germany and scanned in Spain. It’s a love affair that really travels the globe!
For me, shooting on film feels completely different to shooting digitally. You can hear and feel the film moving through the camera. You can hold the results in your hand and see them with the naked eye. The footage feels both reel and magical. It’s definitely the most romantic medium and it’s perfect for weddings.
Photos of camera and Will by Holly at Ginger Veil
Film has sense of permanence to it. I have family negatives that are over 100 years old and they look amazing, but I have several hard-drives that don’t work properly any more! The cameras we use are amazing too - the youngest is older than me and the oldest is around 90 years old. They are beautiful as feats of engineering and as objects in themselves, as well as with regards to what they help create. I hope to pass them on to future generations so that they can use them too!”
Shooting on film seems to capture the same absolute, abundant joy that we recognise with hand-written post too. In an age of emails and the increasing normality of technological feats, we’ve come full circle to appreciate written, hand-sealed and stamped letters more than ever (Especially if they’re wedding invites!). The same goes with film, I think. Open your browser on any social media site and you can see a high quality video, but not a video that captures such raw emotion and pure magic. Especially not one that’s been curated by people who are so rapturously passionate about capturing it perfectly, like Ciné Reportage. We're major fans!
Watch an excerpt of one of their films, shot at an Iscoyd Park wedding last year, here: