The ever-evolving British Asian wedding is now an institution that attracts mainstream suppliers of all capacities and sizes. In recent years, the Asian wedding market has seen an influx of talented non-Asian wedding cinematographers, or videographers as we often refer to them, who are able to offer just as good, if not better, services. As consumers we benefit from the introduction of new styles and methods, competitive prices and variety of service. But are they any less able to provide a culturally aware service than their Asian counterparts?
Some issues are cultural, for example, you might expect an Asian supplier to be a little bit more understanding when the bride turns up an hour and a half late. Of course the ‘Indian timing’ thing is a massive generalisation, but it’s fair to say most Asian weddings still require a degree of flexibility with timing. Additionally, you may have concerns that your supplier will fail to observe the correct decorum during religious ceremonies.
You may assume that hiring an Asian videographer will save you the trouble of having to address these issues, but in truth you should be discussing all of these things with any supplier before you book. A schedule of events, details of the ceremony and charges for over-running, are standard points of discussion regardless of whether your videographer is Asian or not.
Andrew Cussens is a Director at Bloomsbury Films, the UK’s multi award winning cinematographers, who cater for a wide range of cultural backgrounds including Jewish, Asian, Persian, Arabic, Chinese, African and many more. He rightly states that ‘everyone is concerned about cultural understanding, not just Asians. Yet we have succeeded in every market. This is because cultural understanding accounts for only a tiny part of the skill needed to make good films.’
Nowadays, it’s no longer the ‘done thing’ to have a wedding video that shows endless footage of various ceremonies. We want videos that are creatively shot and meticulously edited so viewers can experience the ‘best bits’ rather than having to sit through and watch the entire actual wedding. Half the task, if not more, in producing an engaging wedding video requires good editing skills. In-depth knowledge of what happens at an Asian wedding is not a necessity as you will more than likely be involved in this process, engaging in numerous dialogues with your chosen service provider.
The other half of the task is shooting the actual wedding. The visionary skills required in taking the right shots from the right angles to film competently bears no relation to whether or not the cameraman has an Asian background. As Andrew from Bloomsbury Films puts it; ‘rituals can easily be learned and understood, creativity is much harder to acquire.’
In some cases, select venues have an approved list of suppliers (including videographers) that they would rather you use for any event at their premises. Many couples are put off by this because they feel that the lack of an all-Asian supplier list will take something away from their wedding. Remember that these videographers will be experienced at shooting on the site and would be able to capture the best possible footage of your wedding day. Bloomsbury Films are recommended by many venues, including Savill Court in Surrey (see below)
Regardless of how limited or generous your budget, don’t shy away from spending time discussing your exact requirements with potential videographers. You should have detailed consultations with all your suppliers before your wedding. Agree to meet for a consultation and provide your videographer with an itinerary of your wedding day and check in with them during the editing process. And remember, there’s every chance that your videographer has attended more Asian weddings than you have, regardless of whether or not they are Asian themselves, so their knowledge and understanding of your key events will be sufficient.
[Originally published in Entouraaj, July 2013]