On Saturday 27th of October 2018, in the heart of Spring in the Western Cape, I set out to film the wedding of Jean and Dniel in Porterville which is about 120km from Bellville. Leading up to the weekend, I was already aware that it was going to be HOT! What caught me off guard was that this day would turn out to be over 40°C, even reaching as high as 46°C at one stage… I mean, SERIOUSLY, it’s the middle of Spring!
Excited to be working with photographer and long-time friend, Billy-Jean from Billy-Jean Photography, I left home early to allow some time to catch up with her and to explore the lay of the land. What was to be a simple country road through the farmlands of the Boland, turned out to be a stressful and frustrating journey littered with stop/start roadworks between Wellington and Porterville, even culminating in me and another car having to drive through a stray traffic flag in the middle of the road!
When I finally arrived at Laatson Wedding Venue, I realized that I had filmed there before. What a beautiful venue! Billy-Jean had arranged accommodation for our two teams at the venue, should I wish to stay the night and hit the road in the morning rather than having to drive back after finishing up at the wedding.
We started off filming the guys and I could already tell that this was going to be one fat party! The guys were amped, and Jean was visibly exhilarated for this most special day in his life. Like a crafted bit of narrative foreshadowing, I dropped my expensive Hugo Boss sunglasses, a birthday gift from a close friend, just as I stepped out to start filming. No damage to the glasses, but this is the moment that started a series of absentminded mishaps which would eventually lead to me arriving at home without my shirt!
Back in the car, Billy-Jean and I headed downtown to film the Bride and her Bridesmaids getting ready. Arriving to a bustling full house, the girls were in high spirits as the bride was having her makeup done. Apparently, one of the bridesmaids LOVES tequila – a love that I can relate to as tequila is basically my lifeblood when I’m not in work mode (which is becoming a rare occurrence these days!).
As the makeup and hair styling progressed, I could feel the anticipation and excitement growing in the room. Having explore every nook and cranny of the room to find the hidden cinematic perspectives that give any video the edge I demand as a minimum requirement, I found and exploited the most minute and abstract frame distortive object to add that little extra to the frame. I FOUND IT! … and it was epic. Billy-Jean agreed and presented me with a little plastic pendant (or earring – it’s hard to tell, I’m just a dude and fashion items, that aren’t obvious in their function, mostly go over my head. I remember thinking “This doesn’t really go with my Suburban-Post-Grundge-90s-Punk-Rocker-Simplicity”. Billy-Jean, obviously noticing the look of confusion on my face, explained that she uses this to create similar distortive foreground effects and Bokeh in her shots. I tried it and the results opened a whole array of creative possibilities for me. I may have to stop at the science store (and China Town) to procure a little tool box full of plastic bits and bobs!
Luckily the room was airconditioned, since, when the Bride called us in to film the last adjustments to her dress and make-up, the room warmed up… She looked SPECTACULAR! Immediately inspired by how photogenic my subject was, I was on a roll! Varying between 4k and HD, I captured some of the most elegant bridal footage ever. Thank you Dniel!
By now, it was 15h00. I stepped outside, having been in an air-conditioned room for the last hour or so, I got hit in the face like opening an oven door: 46°C! (It’s Spring!) This was going to be rough! It was at this very moment that I realized that I had misplaced (or lost my sunglasses). Oh dear… Oh well, it’s just an earthly thing (…I reluctantly admitted) and “it is what it is” was all I could say.
We arrived at the venue, rushing to set up the sound for the ceremony (thank goodness the ceremony was in full shade!). The sound guy was awesome! I don’t know his name now, but I will add him to this post once I have acquired the missing intel. I remember him from the first time I filmed there, and I remember thinking the same. The reason certain sound guys/DJs stand out at weddings, at least to me as a videographer, is that very few of them end up giving me a clean, stable, and noiseless feed to record. This guy is just great!
Dniel arrived in an old classic Ford, buffed and polished, glowing beautifully in the warm Porterville sun. Billy-Jean and I, the guests and the groom, Jean, eagerly awaiting her grand entrance. The Ford slowly rolls into sight as it progresses to the ceremony. Then… it stalls. I used this opportunity to reposition myself to get another angle of the car. I run closer to the car to ensure that I get there before it starts up again, so I can take a useful shot of it and a medium shot of her getting out of the car. Out of breath, I arrive at the spot near the car. It was still stalling. Then it slowly rolled back down the path, and that was it. No more. The Ford had had enough. (Not the only piece of engineering which would throw in the towel on this scorcher of a day – in SPRING!)
She walked down the aisle, Jean was bedazzled! The setting was picturesque, set against the backdrop of the glowing mountain, in the shade of beautifully tall trees, forming a kind of outdoor theatre.
The photo session is always the cinematic highlight of the day. We marched on, in the blistering heat, to capture some of the most amazing shots in recent memory. The golden glow of the wheat fields, the backlit heads of the wheat, the car parked in the field, the mountains lit up with an orange glow… it was spectacular. I started up the drone and got some seriously cinematic shots… for a about 10 minutes. Then, the drone started complaining: Gimbal overload, CPU overload, battery malfunction… It wasn’t happy! At least I got my shots. The drone was too hot to touch. The heatsink was scorching! Oh well, I will have to assess the damage when I get home.
From here, things started to happen quickly! Grand entrance, speeches, dancing. Suddenly it was time to wrap up. At this stage, I wanted nothing more than to sleep in my own bed and I decided to hit the road home. I needed to change shirts… I couldn’t handle the heat anymore. I took off the black shirt I had been wearing the whole day and changed into the T-Shirt I brought to sleep in, had I decided to stay over. Great relief!
I hit the road, this time, taking the alternative route, hoping to miss the roadworks I encountered on the way to Porterville. This was even worse! The N7 was littered with roadworks for about 80kms of the way! Some parts of the road were so badly demarcated that it felt like navigating a poorly designed maze. Worse than that, the trucks on the road were like something out of Mad Max. Racing each other, overtaking each other, driving right on my tail, blowing their horns, flashing their lights… It was terrifying and infuriating!
When I got home, I couldn’t find my house keys (had I left them at the venue?!). I also couldn’t find my shirt… (where on earth could this be?!). This day has taken its toll: I lost my sunglasses, house keys and my SHIRT! What’s more, my drone may have melted as I researched the safe temperature range for this particular model and it is 0°C – 40°C… It got MUCH warmer than that! This was looking like a very costly exercise.
The next morning, Billy-Jean told me that she found my glasses, I found me keys and my shirt. I later checked the drone, and all was fine. All’s well that ends well! This wedding is going to be one to remember!
Billy-Jean Photography : https://www.billyjeanphotography.co.za/