Winter is taking hold in the northern hemisphere and temperatures have dropped below freezing. With snow on the ground here in Kodak’s hometown, we figured there was no better time to share some heartwarming films from Super 8mm and 16mm wedding cinematographers The Why We Love.
Calling California home, Kevin and Danielle Snelson have been documenting weddings for years. We recently spoke with them about their craft and they shared details on their obsession with film and what motivates them to create such beautiful memories. It’s our pleasure to introduce The Why We Love!
What does “The Why We Love” mean and where did it come from?
This is kind of a funny story. We spent weeks trying to think of a name that fully encompassed what fueled our passion for our art form. We kept asking ourselves what are “the Why’s” we love what we do. This of course led us down the rabbit hole of making endless lists and only made our indecision worse. Finally it clicked, and we settled on “The Why We Love.” It made the most sense, especially for a company that focuses on capturing and retelling the love stories of so many couples.
How did you get into filmmaking?
You could say I started “filmmaking” as a child. I was always fascinated with cameras growing up. I would walk around with cameras and create spectacular images. Of course they were always in my mind as I rarely had any film. When I got a hold of my grandparent’s stash of home movie equipment, I was hooked. I would shoot a ton of what I thought was beautiful footage at the time, and sit in front of the TV with two VCR’s editing for days. I never went to film school; not because I didn’t want to but mostly due to a lack of time, money, and resources. I really just wanted to buy more film and spend my time making unique works of art. I took it upon myself to read everything I could on the techniques of filmmaking, editing, technical components of exposure and lighting, etc. I also was careful to not focus too much on the rules as I didn’t want my voice as an artist to become diluted and just another version of other previous filmmakers. Originality is and always has been paramount.
What drew you to wedding cinematography and what is your vision for your final product?
This happened very organically. I wanted to pursue the voice in me that was saying, create something beautiful; to craft a work of art that tells the story of a real once in a lifetime experience. With every film we make our greatest desire is to create something that not only moves our clients but moves us. I’m kind of an emotional guy and I want the art to speak to that. Wedding Cinema allows the use of so many elements; the music, the tempo, the imagery, the cuts, all drawing out an honest reaction.
How does film allow you to achieve that vision?
I was obsessed with the look and feel of film right away, especially the smaller formats of Super 8 and 16mm. They had movement and life when most independent and wedding films were going to video. The colors were truer and the grain was beautiful. It made the imagery on screen look the way I saw it in my mind. It’s also very forgiving. To film a moving and live event is an incredible challenge. I want the best tools available to execute the task with some sort of finesse. Film is an incredible technology and its latitude allows for a certain margin of error as opposed to conventional video. For me, it’s the best tool for the job.
You’ve been featured on many industry websites. What do you think ultimately draws clients to your work?
Our clients consistently tell us that our films make them cry, even when it is someone else’s story. I have to assume they are tears of joy and excitement. I don’t think people always want to remember things in a perfect literal sense. We believe that most folks would rather remember the overall impression of the day and the way they felt during those moments. Our films are a little more abstract and this leaves room for the real emotions of those moments to flow through the imagery and the music.
Weddings can range from huge to intimate. How do you make this all work within budgets?
We have to be disciplined and budget ourselves. We make decisions beforehand on what film to shoot and how much of it, specific to each couple that commissions us. We go into every wedding, elopement, and family shoot with a set amount of film and a shot list. We also set aside a portion of the allotted film and dedicate it to creative shots that we have not necessarily planned but are ready to capture at any given moment. These candids really make the film. We also try to turn in more than one job at a time to the lab as we get more for our money with a higher volume.
After the investment, what have your clients had to say about their films?
They typically have watched the film at least a dozen times when they write or call us the next day after we’ve sent them the link to their online film. They always let us know how grateful they are that they chose us and how happy they are with the finished product. It’s not uncommon for them to refer to their film as an heirloom or a gift and to mention how they can’t wait to show it to their children someday. This of course is quite humbling for us because we are simply doing what we love for some pretty amazing people.
Do you have a sample to share with us?
It’s wonderful to find a couple that really wants their wedding day to be about spending time with their loved ones. This is one of our Super 8 vignettes of a wonderful couple here in L.A. that valued just that.
Stephen + Jenn | Huron Substation | Super 8 Wedding Film from The Why We Love Team on Vimeo.
This is a featurette shot on Super 16mm of a lovely couple that decided to make their wedding day all about each other and eloped in the place that most inspired them: Big Sur, Calif.
Big Sur, CA Elopement | 16mm Destination Wedding Film from The Why We Love Team on Vimeo.
Here is a Super 8 vignette of a romantic couple that lived their vision of the grandest adventure and eloped in Big Sur and then road-tripped up the West Coast all the way to Seattle for their honeymoon.
Scott + Renee | Big Sur, CA Elopement | Super 8 Wedding Film from The Why We Love Team on Vimeo.
We love to document families as they grow. This is a little vignette of our time spent with a couple that recently had their first child. This is a family of photographers who are just as passionate about film as we are. It’s always humbling when other artists commission us to retell some of the most important moments within their lives.
The de Jaureguis // Super 16mm Family Film from The Why We Love Team on Vimeo.
You offer both Super 8mm and Super 16mm to your clients. What does each of those formats mean to you? What are some reasons for shooting one format or the other?
Each format serves a different role for us. Super 8 has a real home movie feel. We really like to embrace its roots when shooting this format. If it is available, we strive to utilize reversal stocks to really give the film the timeless look Super 8 is so well known for. I have to say Super 16mm is usually my favorite because it gives me a broader choice of lenses and film stocks, not to mention I can create imagery with a shallower depth of field while also capturing everything in a native widescreen picture. It’s also a little more predictable since the cameras or usually newer and less finicky.
Do you have a favorite stock to shoot with?
This is an easy answer. Ektachrome 100D was my all-time favorite. However, I have really come to appreciate and favor 250D for 16mm and 500T for Super 8. They both offer a beautiful clean canvas for me to color later.
Let’s talk gear. What’s in your bag for a typical event?
It’s pretty consistent from job to job.
Modified Eclair ACL Super 16 with (2) 400’ magazines and converted Tobin Intervalometer; perfect for sound sync, slow-motion, and quick change outs.
Lenses are either the Angenieux 15-150 or a variety of Nikon Primes. I like the softness and the simplicity of the Angenieux for the work I’m doing.
Canon Scoopic MS16. This camera is super lightweight and extremely versatile with its built in macro and fast zoom lens; not the quietest setup but very reliable.
Nikon R10 Super 8. The sharpest Super 8 I have ever shot with and the only one, other than my old Russian wind-up Zenit Quarz 1 x 8S-2, that will operate in freezing temps.
Canon 1014-XLS. I love the built in intervolameter and the 220 degree shutter angle it offers for low-light shooting.
Sekonic L-608 Cine Light Meter. A must have for all occasions.
Zoom H4N Stereo Recorder. Perfect for environmentals to add to the soundtrack later.
Sennheiser Lavalier wireless mics. These are imperative for quality audio of vows and speeches.
Audio-Techinica ATH-M50 for monitoring.
And Micropro LED Panels supplement natural light.
How about lighting: Do you use any for dramatic effect or do you rely on available light?
Litepanels are always on hand and the Micropro fits in the bag I carry with film. They have consistent color temperature throughout their range and are easily gelled. We don’t use them unless necessary. We typically prefer to bring reflectors and bounce light where needed. It’s a simpler setup and we never have issues with mixing color temps. The occasional 2K Fresnel might be necessary in extremely dark venues.
What postproduction path do you follow? What’s the final deliverable to your couples?
We try to drop more than one job at a time to maximize the value when it comes to telecine and/or film scanning. We utilize Cinelicious and FotoKem for those tasks, and Spectra for our Super 8 processing. All of them are very knowledgeable, friendly, and offer great rates for wedding artists. We typically have everything telecined at 1080P, though 4K may be on the horizon with the new TVs that are coming out. We then import our ProRes 422 (HQ) files into our Adobe Premiere CC editing suite. We color the final cut in Speedgrade using the reference stills we shot on Kodak medium format film. Depending on what we were commissioned for and the collection purchased, the final delivery is comprised of (3) customized DVDs or Blu-Rays that include the fine art film featurette, an edited film of the ceremony and reception speeches, as well as the original KODAK Motion Picture Film that everything was captured on. We also offer projectable 16mm prints if requested. Everything is then delivered in a handcrafted Cypress archival box for display and safekeeping.
What’s in store for The Why We Love?
We ultimately hope to grow within our niche of the Wedding & Lifestyle Industry and push ourselves to create more personal pieces. Elopements and wedding films are our roots and we love the art we create for our couples. We foresee this side of our business continuing to expand. Still, we are dreamers at heart and we don’t want to limit the type of commissions we welcome. Our greatest desire is to see our family business grow it’s reach to a broader audience. We want to continue supporting the Kodak Motion Picture movement in whatever way we can. We would love to see the medium of film not just be coveted within the wedding film industry but the small business and commercial industry as well. We hope this year will connect us with artists, art directors, and business owners who want to integrate Kodak Motion Picture Film and our style of cinematography into their promotional materials. We always welcome the idea of working with independent film makers wanting to integrate Super 8, 16mm, and 35mm into their works.
How can folks contact you?
We are often out shooting in the field so the best way to contact us is through our website contact form located at www.thewhywelove.com or a direct email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Kevin and Danielle for taking the time to speak with us! If you are interested in learning more about The Why We Love, be sure to check out facebook.com/thewhywelove, follow them on TWITTER at @thewhywelove, and see more videos at vimeo.com/thewhywelove/videos.