My recurring dream of very many years involves me filming a wedding, something I did for many years. Each week was a worry and starting out the day always had me almost sick with worry and nerves presumably akin to stage fright. Once I’d got going it was usually fine and I was on auto pilot.
All the World’s A Stage Fright
That’s not to say that there wasn’t a lot to cope with as you were essentially filming a live event that you couldn’t stop stage (unlike photographers who did just that). They were all a challenge and the majority meant that you were filming often from 10am until midnight, lugging what in the early days was very large and cumbersome equipment (near broadcast in fact) with large battery belts, microphones, tapes and be ready for the unexpected.
Your job was, as much as possible, to be unobtrusive and in the early days as video was gaining a foothold as a new option for marrying couples, subject to a lot of jealousy from photographers, some of whom could refuse to photograph the wedding if they booked a videographer (the wedding photographers worried that guests would buy copies of the wedding rather than their then £8 a pop photos).
The clergy too were typically a prickly bunch. My often used opinion was that many of them had missed their calling as traffic wardens such was their hostile demeanor. The church used the emergence of video as an excuse to levy yet another fee on the pretext of requiring payment for the public performance of the organist (have you heard most church organists?) and maybe (if in attendance) the choir, which were already an additional cost.The church was as much as business as any of the other wedding services on offer. In addition videographers were required to purchase a copyright license to recird each wedding. Many churches did not allow video filming at all or worse charged the couple £80 for the privilege whilst making sure (& often will ill concealed glee) that the videographer had the most inappropriate filming position usually behind the couple and not allowing use of a radio mic that would at least allow us to pick the vows up clearly.
One of my worst experiences came back to me in this recent dream. A vicar that became known to many of us on the wedding video circuit was a particular annoyance. He would shout at us that we were not to move during filming (and mean not as much as move our fingers) which was from way back in the church , behind a pillar and just in front of a double life sized photo cut out of himself which occupied one side of the church. Yes this man’s ego was that large. The penance for daring to breath was a threatened stopping of the ceremony and ejection from your designated position of purchased privilege. It never happened to me but other videographers had experienced this action directly.
At the rehearsal he would tell us that he’d make sure we had an adequate filming viewpoint, from one side and revealing the back of the couples heads (thanks) but on the day would often motion the best man forward to block that view whilst slyly grinning and winking at us knowing that it would deliberately spoil the already appaling view that was available.
In the end I used to play footage to any potential couple wanting us to film in that church to show what was likely to happen. The winking and smiling at the camera as he pulled the best man forward to block a shot which he’d charged the couple £120 in order to secure was sometimes enough for couples to even cancel the church as their first choice for marriage though obviously this was not always possible but made me feel good that this man’s unchristian behaviour was exposed for what it was, just plain mean spirited.
I remember that once the ceremony had started he would always make sure the main church door was locked. On one occasion a Bride’s brother who had only just managed to get thew briefest time off from his Royal Navy tour of duty but who had not arrived at the church in good time was left deliberately locked out of the church unable to see his own sister getting married.
The last time I ever filming in that church the ego boosting cut out of this vicar had increased in size and now had arms outstretched with a ego-maniacal looking mixture of smiling and self obsessed devilment in the eyes.
Over the years I and others were bellowed at and treated like lepers by some vicars and priests of this land. Over time the more extreme behaviours subsided and the introduction of ‘all in one place’ weddings where a civil ceremony could take place in the same place as the reception helped quell slightly the desire for marrying couples to use the church as a convenient backdrop. I could understand the churches cynicism at these couples who were mostly neither originally religious or after experiencing many of these clergy behaviour ever likely to return to regular church going.
Pain And Pleasure
I have very many related filming recollections like the priest who used to take great delight in stabbing me hard with a cane whilst I was filming the Brides arrival knowing I was less likely to interrupt my shot by crying out in pain or protesting at his worryingly sadistic actions.
These are the stuff of my most common recurring dream.
Weddings through a lens
Church photo by tricky ™ under this creative commons license
VideographerPhoto by thparkth under this creative commons license