Cancun Wedding Cinema - Rachael & Brennan
We got the email on February 3rd...
"hello Michael Justin Films! We are having a wedding in Cancun Feb 15 2013. Are you guys available? Please get back to us - Rachael & Brennan"
"Thank you for your interest in our services...but just to be clear, do you mean Feb 15th, 2013 or 2014?" we wrote back.
"Feb 15th as in 11 days from now, I know really short notice :p What is your phone number and when should we phone you?"
And so began the crazy 11 day planning for the intimate wedding of Rachael and Brennan. Since it was so last minute, things were a bit hectic - there weren't rooms available at their hotel (we ended up staying at another a mile or so away), we got the last two seats on our flight from JFK, and we didn't have much time for pre-production meetings. But, given everything we faced we pulled together and made it work.
We were nervous about the amount of professional camera gear we were carrying - three full bags worth to be exact. Upon entering Mexico, we had to fill out a custom's form where we had to declare certain things like soil samples (not sure who carries soil with them, but we digress), currency over a certain amount, and any professional equipment. We knew we had a tight schedule with no time to waste so we decided to roll the dice and classify our equipment as those of a "photo enthusiasts," not a "professional." We passed the unsuspecting customs officials and were thrown into the sea of taxi/bus drivers, who solicited us every couple feet.
Here's a word of advice for all you travelers out there - bring small bills whenever you go to Mexico!. Everyone, whether it's the person holding your bags, the one who closes your car door, who calls you a taxi, or the people who greet you in the morning -- they all want tips, they make it clear that's what they want, and they never carry change. I understand the struggles they face and they're working for these tips, but after tipping over $100 the first day, I had to mention this for others.
We met up with Brennan and Rachael at their hotel on Thursday, the night before the wedding. We knew we wanted to film some rehearsal dinner speeches, which are usually some of the best given the fact the group is smaller and people are more comfortable and relaxed. Unfortunately since we weren't guests at the hotel, we weren't allowed to film until the day of the wedding. Not to worry, we jumped in a 20 person van and went into town to a local restaurant. It actually ended up being perfect - the natural sounds of the city, locals, and Rachael and Brennan and their closest friends and family. The speeches were awesome - personal and intimate, mixed with some humor. As you'll see, we started the film with this and think it worked great.
We parted ways with Rachael and Brennan and went back to our hotel to back up footage and prep for the next day.
Although you'd expect nothing but sunshine in Cancun, the forecast for the weekend was cloudy with rain showers. Good thing they were wrong. We woke up to beautiful sun with light cloud cover. We started the day with the focus on the small gifts Brennan and Rachael had for each other. We filmed the whole process - them writing the cards, packing the gifts, and exchanging them. It was a great moment and it worked well with the edit.
It's hard to say what our favorite part of the day was. Their ceremony was beautiful and their vows were some of the nicest we've ever heard. Their photo session was picturesque, and their reception was basically one big family dinner - something we were so fortunate to be included in.
In addition to cinematography that day, we also did some creative photo portraits. For anyone who does both, you'll understand how difficult this is. We usually have one team that focuses on cinema, and one team that focuses on photo. This happens because when we're in cinema mode, we're thinking only about cinema. When we're in photo mode, we're only thinking about photos. Since we were a two person crew, we didn't have that luxury. We had to train our brains to do both at the same time. Check out some of the images below. You be the judge, did we pull it off?
It was a short trip - flew in to Cancun Thursday afternoon and left Saturday morning. We left NY with an expectation to film a cool wedding in a warm climate. What we returned with was so much more. It's funny how it happens - when you're thrown into a foreign situation with a group of strangers, you bond very quickly. Although we only met Rachael, Brennan and their families that weekend and spent two short days with them, we feel like we have known them forever. We can't wait for their 1 year anniversary and another opportunity to tell their story!