What Would They Know? Allen Mechen of Highlight Films

by | What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on September 1, 2009


Today’s expert is fairly new to the wedding industry, but he’s certainly not new to his craft of cinematography! Having worked for the BBC and in Australia various television networks, Allen Mechen of Highlight Films on Queensland’s Gold Coast is passionate about his craft and he joins us here on Polka Dot Bride to share the secrets behind his success with film.

What is your ‘mission statement’ for Highlight Films i.e. the filming of weddings?

We believe a wedding/marriage is a cinematic experience. What does that mean? Well, just that the quality and feel of the wedding feels more like a film that you would experience at the cinema – emotional breathtaking and artistic with high production values. We feel as excited about your wedding as you, its a one of a kind, a one off
production that deserves the absolute best.

Your portfolio includes a wide variety of assignments. What interests you about wedding videography?

Marriage and your wedding day are uniquely special. It’s a huge event in one’s life and every wedding is a love story just waiting to be told. For me it’s the chance to share in the day but also to create something truly emotional on lots of different levels. To take the viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, to capture the essence of
the man and woman. Creatively, we get to make one-off special films.

What should brides look for in a videographer?

Well, that’s simple. Strip back all of the equipment, awards and packages. Just look at the work of the filmmaker -their portfolio. Look at the creativity and style, and the way it has been filmed and edited. If their films grasp you and inspire you, then it’s for you.

What inspires you about Australian brides? Is there a special ‘Australian’ quality about brides from this country?

Australian brides are so diverse, with many different tastes. I love the fact that we could be shooting a ultra modern city wedding or a traditional country farmhouse wedding. The brides have this really great attitude to life which I think is really an Australian thing. I think Australian brides know what they want, but are also willing and open to ideas.

Do you take ‘traditional’ videos of brides or do you strive to be different? What sets you apart from others?

I think the days of traditional wedding videos are numbered. Brides are using the internet and seeing what is available and what is possible and are wanting more. For a long time I believe there has been a lot of laziness in the industry, the internet has opened up a whole new breed of filmmakers to brides. I really believe it is about educating brides and grooms about what can be achieved with video. Creative talent is also a key factor when choosing.

We do strive to be different in terms of our approach and techniques. We like to get involved in the process from the beginning and talk to the couples, get to know them, find out their personalities, what they like etc and create a film and a story around them.

Song for the Lovers |M&D from allen mechen on Vimeo.

Where do you find inspiration to keep your filming of the couple cutting edge, and your interest in it fresh?

My inspiration comes from movies, music and music videos, and books. This may sound odd but a good story can give me heaps of inspiration. Photographs and art can give me ideas of composition, styling and look. I also will spend time on the internet looking at other filmmakers in all fields.

What feelings are you trying to capture when filming the bride and groom?

Have you ever had that nervous little tingle in your stomach, or cried at the end of a really great movie or book, or laughed out loud at comedy? That’s what we aim to capture. I am greedy – I want the viewer to feel it all.

What techniques do you use to capture the ‘uniqueness’ of each couple?

Good research, talk to the couple find out about them, ask questions and discuss ideas. Locations can also make a big difference. We always use a minimum of 2 cameras on each shoot for great coverage, more if needed. We also storyboard and go to rehearsals.

What is your number one tip for brides when being filmed by you?
Brush your teeth! No seriously. Just relax, all the planning has been done. Try not to rush through the day. Just enjoy each other.

How can the couple look natural in front of the camera?

Most of the time because of the enormity of the day, couples can get very nervous, which is not a bad thing. It’s such a big deal with all the planning that has gone into the day and with every important person in your life in attendance. My advice is to just savour every moment of each other, stop and check yourself and take it all in. The cameras will pick up all the energy, nerves and emotions, which is what it is all about.

It’s important that the couple know exactly what we will be doing and where we will be on the day and they are comfortable with that, and that comes with talking and rehearsals.

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Where do you see videography fitting into the wedding day? As an adjunct to stills photography, or taking the place of it?

I think we are in the middle of a very exciting time in wedding video. The market is really changing with the advent of new equipment being made available to filmmakers which is changing how we photograph and film all sorts of productions. I do not think video will take the place of photography, however, we will start to see a lot more couples making more educated decisions and being very specific about what they want, and it’s really about education. In the past, lets face it, wedding videos to some degree have had a bad rap and that is partly to do with videographer and partly the equipment – bad shaky shots, long zooms, bad lighting, and editing have not helped. As well as inexperienced operators,
who have tended to be portrayed as a friend of a friend who does a bit of video work on the side. Now we have a whole new breed of “filmmakers” coming through from industry backgrounds who know how to use the new equipment and are shooting exceptional work.

When brides start seeing what is available and what can be achieved, then I think we will see more brides opting for both video and photography as standard and not one or the other.

What do you love about the wedding industry?

For me it’s the diversity of the work, and the people. It’s all about relationships.

What are the biggest mistakes you see couples making?

I have been involved in a number of bridal expos and the one thing I ask couples is, “have you thought about a wedding film?” The reply I normally get is “not really”. A wedding film is the last thing on a brides list and the first thing to be dropped, which is understandable on past form. I would encourage couples to spend as much time looking for a filmmaker as a photographer – there are some really great companies making some great stuff out there, it pays to research especially with the internet at your fingertips. A wedding film is probably viewed as much as your photographs – if not more when it is good!

If money were no object, where and how would you photograph a wedding?

Ahh, the big budget question. I am an old romantic at heart. I would love to film in Rome – The Vatican city. Followed by the Tuscan countryside in the evening at the magic hour when the sun is that beautiful golden yellow amber. I would keep it really simple and use music from Ennio Morricone with huge wide angle sweeping shots in true cinemascope, 2:35:1. Ohh, I had better stop, way to much geeky info!

What other services do you offer your brides?

We offer a range of services, from trash the dress and love story (la tua storia d’amore) shoots, engagement shoots, parent and friend tributes and online wedding invitations (where we film the couple and send it out to family and friends). We look at ourselves as boutique and are always open to ideas and customising packages to suit.
We also offer a streaming service which is hosted on our server, which means its a very quick delivery in terms of viewing. We host a 5 minute highlight clip of the wedding which the couple can then send to family and friends whilst on their honeymoon. They can then download that in flash or quicktime or ipod, iphone and facebook.

Thank you for joining us today on Polka Dot Bride Allen! You can find out more about Allen’s work at his website Highlight Films and stay tuned for a fantastic Highlight Films competition shortly!


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