For the past few weeks, we’ve been re-capping the Hitched wedding, and we’ll also be introducing you to some of the wonderful wedding professionals who made this event possible, as our behind-the-scenes collaborators.
Today: Brendan Sandham of Sandham Films.
We first met Brendan at the 2013 Happy Days Lodge Open House produced by Old Carolina Barbecue Director of Catering (and Something New Bride) Leslianne Love-Lake. We were immediately impressed by Brendan’s enthusiasm and intelligence, tempered with a (totally misplaced) modesty and sense of humbleness.
As the Official Hitched Cinematographer, Brendan documented parts of Ben and Samantha’s planning process — so he’s the one responsible for the recap of their entertainment planning meeting that we love so much we have it on permanent display on our Services page.
Here’s his trailer for Hitched, if you haven’t seen it, already:
Brendan is a talented artist, a hard worker, and a wonderful human being. We are very lucky to know him, and I can’t wait to introduce him to you!
Something New Entertainment’s Anna-Jeannine “DJ AJ9” Herman, Wedding Entertainment Director®: What first interested you in being a wedding videographer?
Brendan Sandham of Sandham Films:
I’ve always loved to tell stories. I’ve been making films since I was young and first received permission to use my parents’ VHS camcorder. I made sci-fi films, westerns, and news broadcasts. It was then that I really began to understand the language of film and its power as a storytelling medium. In college I made student films, and after graduation worked as a cameraman and a video technician. I continued making short films, and even had one screen in Hollywood!
I shot a few weddings, but ultimately found them to be bland and boring. I set up a camera in the back of the church, and I would edit in some of the speeches and dancing from the reception.
But when I was introduced to the concept of presenting a wedding day as a story, and framing the film around a narrative, I was hooked. It’s a very different way to think about a wedding video, and I love that I can offer something that is filled with so much emotion and meaning.
DJ AJ9: How long have you been a wedding cinematographer?
Brendan Sandham: Over ten years.
DJ AJ9: How would you describe your cinematographic style?
Brendan Sandham: Cinematic. Not to get overly technical, but they are shooting movies and television shows on the same equipment that we use, and we are careful to match our camera settings to those seen in multi-million dollar productions. We’re also meticulous about lens choices, camera moves, and shooting angles. I love it when someone sees one of our films for the first time and says, “Wow, it looks like a real movie!” It is! That’s exactly how I view it.
DJ AJ9: How have you prepared for your career through education? What special training, certifications, awards, or other honors establish you as an expert in your field?
Brendan Sandham: I majored in Communication Studies with an emphasis in video production, and I’ve studied storytelling extensively. I worked high profile events for many years, and have filmed presidents, world leaders, and other celebrities. I’m an award winning stage director. I’ve had short films featured in festivals and have been on both sides of the camera on some major Hollywood productions (if you pause in just the right place, you can see me in The Avengers!)
DJ AJ9: What do you enjoy most about being a wedding cinematographer and being able to serve wedding clients?
Brendan Sandham: I love finding the story. Sometimes it’s how the couple met. Sometimes it’s told by a friend or a loved one. Sometimes it appears in a place I least expect it. But it always appears and becomes the narrative thread for the film. I love finding that and bringing it to the forefront.
DJ AJ9: What is the most important consideration couples should make when hiring a cinematographer or videographer for their wedding ceremony and/or reception?
Brendan Sandham: First and foremost, you need to look at the quality of the work. Look at past films. Do they hold together? Are they shot well? Is the music properly licensed? Beyond those basics, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with your cinematographer on a personal level. If you have a good report, it will lead to a better film.
DJ AJ9: What’s the question I’m not asking you but you wish I would, or What’s the question that clients usually don’t ask you but you wish they would?
Brendan Sandham: I usually shoot with a team of three, and I’ve seen a lot of eyes get very, very wide when I mention that fact. Ask me how that works! Folks worry that we will be in the way, or obtrusive, but that’s rarely verbalized.
The truth of the matter is that we are pretty ninja-like. Every wedding we’ve shot, and I can say this without exaggeration, someone from the bridal party has said some variation of, “We barely noticed that you were there.” I went to say goodbye to a bride and groom at the end of their reception. They had a puzzled look on each of their faces. “We thought you left over an hour ago!” Nope, we were still there, filming away!
DJ AJ9: What are some ways that couples can prepare for their wedding day to help ensure better video?
Brendan Sandham: Really think through what you want captured and preserved. Think about the different events throughout the day, the special people you have invited, and make sure that’s communicated to us. We want to make certain that we are capturing and presenting the things that are most meaningful, so having a strong sense of that in advance is very helpful.
DJ AJ9: What’s your favorite “must capture” moment during the day
Brendan Sandham: I love finding the quiet moments. There is so much planning that goes into a wedding, and the day itself can feel like a blur. But there are always moments when it all melts away, and it’s just about two people. I love bringing those out in the final film.
DJ AJ9: What do you look for in a great DJ and what are your DJ pet peeves? How can your DJ “co-workers” help you, hurt you, or irritate you throughout the day? How can Something New Entertainment do better, or how have we already excelled?
Brendan Sandham: DJs help us tremendously during the filming of the reception. Most of the time it’s very difficult for us to mic everyone who is making a speech or offering a toast, so working with a skilled DJ who is able to offer a spare ‘out’ on the board is a huge deal. And when that person also knows how to operate said board, all the better! I ended up with some really garbled audio after one wedding when the DJ forgot to pan properly to our recorder. So keeping an out available for me, and not adjusting that out after we’ve plugged into it is wonderful! It’s a small thing, but it’s a great way to make each other look good 🙂
About Brendan Sandham: Brendan Sandham has been producing films for over a decade, and specializes in cinematic wedding films. He also creates films for clients in a wide variety of industries, and samples of his work can be found at www.vimeo.com/sandhamfilms
About Sandham Films: Sandham Films, established in 2013, produces cinematic wedding films which get to the heart of a couple’s wedding day, as well as to the heart of audiences for years to come. Based in Chardon, OH, Sandham Films is owned by filmmaker Brendan Sandham.