How I started filming weddings

I started filming weddings almost by chance one day in 2012 at Hazlewood Castle between York and Leeds. I had been booked by Clare and Ian to perform magic for their wedding. I was thinking about how to get some video of me performing some tricks for my website and I had started packing a small camcorder along with several cases of tricks. I was relying on finding a willing guest who would take some footage of me doing some tricks at the top table, hopefully without giving anything away about how the tricks were done.

I always try to arrive early for magic bookings so that I can get a feel for the venue and find my way around. I like to find somewhere safe to stash my gear too - somewhere I can get easy access to it in a hurry whilst I am performing strolling magic or table magic. 

On this occasion I had arrived at Hazlewood Castle so early that without knowing it, I was in time for the service in the chapel so I snuck in at the back behind all the guests and started filming.
It wasn't the ideal position being at the back of the room but at that time I had no idea what I should be doing to film a wedding so it was good enough.

After the service was over I took some film of Clare and Ian with their wedding guests. Later during the wedding I managed to hand over the camcorder to someone who filmed me doing the 'Bill in Kiwi' trick so my original intention was fulfilled.

Later I gave Clare and Ian a copy of the video I'd made for free and they were bowled over and still remembered me when I met them by chance several years later.

As you can see there is plenty of room for improvement in what was at the time, a very impromptu wedding video: 

  • The video is shaky (the camcorder was handheld and didn't have the stabilisation of modern cameras). See my article on stabilising your camera.
  • The video quality is poor compared to what can be achieved with more modern cameras filming in 4k
  • The audio is poor as all I had was the microphone in the camcorder and this was at some considerable distance during the wedding vows. See my article on capturing the best audio
  • Although the camcorder zoomed in remarkably well considering where I was, it would have been so much better if I had been near the front of the hall to start with, somewhere near where the photographer was. I didn't know that at the time and even if I had known it I wouldn't have risked it without first checking with the vicar.

The experience of filming them made me realise that I needed some proper training and that led me to do some research and that led me to find Len Bateman. Len's training, for which I am eternally grateful, focussed on how to film a wedding, the important bits to film, positioning, timing, lighting and most of all, how to craft a memorable film that captures the magic of a very special event.

And here is the magic trick that I managed to get filmed. It’s called Bill in Kiwi: