When you ask a cinematographer to film your wedding you put so much trust into their hands to deliver a beautiful film that you will love. Alex and Marco of Memento Films deliver the most beautiful films with a quality reminiscent of full movie production, capturing the important moments with stunning lighting for the most sensitive of shots. Added to that, wide scenery shots from an aerial drone give you a complete picture of your day – a bird’s eye view of the surrounds, and the light and weather on the day, to give your film that unbeatable sense of time and place. Here is Alex and Marco’s story.
Where is Memento Films based?
Memento Film is based in Brisbane, but providing service Australia-wide.
Please describe your journey to becoming wedding cinematographers?
Alex: I’m graduated from QUT in Bachelor of Film Production. One day I got hired by a local company to be trained and shoot wedding videos and that’s how it started. I actually enjoy shooting weddings, as I’d love to see how happy everybody is and the raw emotion from the day. The laughter, the tears, they are so genuine and I believe that is so precious in this modern and complicated society. Thus, I’d love to capture them in the best way I can for the bride and groom.
Marco: After graduating from Bond University in the Gold Coast, I got a job to shoot an Asian wedding from a friend, it went pretty well and I was showing it to everybody, and one day at a photography job I met Alex and showed him. And one day he just called me to do a job with him. And the rest is history!
How would you describe your ‘unique artistic vision’?
Alex: In a wedding, I observe a lot and trying to be invisible. You may find me a bit quieter than other cinematographers as I’m looking for some moments that are so beautiful and maybe disappeared in a second. In the mean while, the couple can enjoy themselves and be themselves. When you are yourself, that’s the most beautiful moment.
Marco: Like all filmmakers, we have a constant need to create a cinematic feel to everything we capture. We have to constantly think of the Mise En Scene. Even though a wedding is a live event, a documentary, our old habits as a filmmaker will always be there. To capture everything using the language of Cinema.
How would you describe your film style?
Alex: An epic documentary with laughter and tears. As mentioned above, I’d love to capture the genuine laughter and tears. Wedding is a live event, so essentially, it’s a documentary style film. However, Memento Films also try to push the cinematography part to its extreme to make our couple feel their story in a cinematic experience.
Marco: Camera movements are vital. My camera movements have to match the emotions given during that moment. It has to enhance capture their tears, laughter, so in short I would say my style is in the camera movement.
Please describe a typical wedding day (and what you do on the day)?
Alex: Typically bride and groom will be getting ready in separate locations/rooms. I’ll go to shoot bride and Marco will take care of the groom. We will set up a nice spot for bride/ groom with good lighting, background etc to maximize the quality of the shot. Then, of course, to shoot the ring, the dress, dressing up and any moments that are necessary. Then Marco will go to ceremony location a bit earlier than me to setup our cameras and audio gears including lapel mic and getting a direct feed from the PA system to ensure our audio is crisp. Then he will take as many shots as he can of the location and guests/ groom/ groomsmen.
After ceremony, we will then pack up our gears and get ready for the photo-shoot. We will go to the location with photographers and shoot the photo-shoot with some help of gimbal stabilizer and aerial drone.
In the reception part, we will setup and test again like in ceremony to ensure everything is ready before bridal entrance, then to capture everything necessary including speeches, first dance, bouquet toss, cake cutting etc. The key is by using our own lights; the result will be much better.
At the end, we will say goodbye to our bride and groom and keep them updated with the post production status.
Marco: Coffee, be best friends with the couple, scout for beautiful locations, capture spontaneous moments, And most importantly sound recording.
Is it important to you to feel a connection with your bridal couples?
Alex: Yes, it is important to feel the love between them so I can capture it. Sometimes, shooting also needs inspiration, by feeling their love and how they feel, it can also inspire me do something more creative.
Marco: Very, it is the most important day of their life. I want to be there not just as a job, but to celebrate their love, their closest friends, their parents, their muse, their high school crush, their story. Because at the end of the day, we filmmakers, are storytellers. And we need to connect with them, to tell one their most beautiful story in their life.
How do you ensure that each film reflects the personality of the couple?
Alex: Personality comes from 2 parts, the story and the cinematography. It’s just like shooting a feature film. The story is from the vows, the speeches and some small moments on the day, so we just have to ensure to capture them all. Secondly is to capture them in film language, which is the cinematography. What lens should I use? What angle should I choose? What movement is right for this moment? All these small bits added together give a strong impact on the film for everyone to feel it.
Marco: Listen to them. Watch their expressions. The more you learn who they are, the better the film will reflect their personality.
The emotional aspect of your films is very evident. Do you as the film makers have to feel this emotion in order to convey it well?
Alex: Yes, definitely. You feel it, you understand it and you tell it through your lenses.
Marco: I think in all forms of art, empathy is one of the most important traits to have. It will be great if I can read minds lol, but for now I will just have to be in the moment with them, to create amazing works. Speeches, tells the most story. It’s a goldmine of storytelling, the blueprint of award winning movie. I take extra care to making sure the speeches are captured perfectly.
What are the most important elements of the wedding day story to convey in your films?
Alex: Our couple’s story is not something we can control as we don’t want anything fake. However, we do encourage them before wedding in our FREE Pre-Wedding Consultation to have personal vow and do give speeches.
How do you decide on the music to accompany each film?
Alex: Mainly it depends on the personality and what happened on the day. Is it emotional with lots of tears? Is it fun and light-hearted? We do ask our couple’s preference first and then to choose similar music for them, because sometimes a pop song doesn’t work with their film.
Marco: I would start by looking through the footage and decide, if it’s a more playful wedding or more towards a dramatic wedding. If it’s in the middle, a Christina Perri song usually works with most couples (haha).
When editing your films how do you decide on the ‘feel’ you want each film to have?
Alex: Still, it’s up to what does the day feels like and what suits the couple best.
Marco: Music choice governs everything in wedding films. It controls the pace, dramatic cues and will ultimately create the ‘feel’ of the movie.
What does providing ‘fantastic customer service’ mean for you at Memento Films?
Alex: It means everything. We believe a wedding is a very important life event, so we want our couple to be happy, feel free, enjoy the day and having an amazing film!
Marco: Our aim, is to make sure, bride (and groom) will hold a great product at the end of the day. And make sure they can relive their wedding day for the future days to come!
Do you travel – to film weddings?
Alex: Yes, I travel to film weddings and I’d like to do so.
Marco: Yes, so far we’ve gone south to Melbourne, and north up to Mackay.
Where are some favourite destinations that you’ve visited in the course of your work?
Alex: Moreton Island for me so far. Island wedding has its unbeatable sunset and view. Although it’s hard to move around with lots of gear, but it’s worth all the effort.
Marco: Toowoomba, it’s such a nice peaceful mountain town, the quality of light is hard to forget. The weather is amazing. And once me and Alex got lost and one of our cars ran out of fuel in the woods. Which is pretty memorable haha.
What do you love about your profession?
Alex: To capture genuine emotions, to share what you feel.
Marco: Capturing beauty, laughter, love. Makes wedding jobs really amazing experience every time.
One thing we couldn’t live without is…..
Alex: Again, the raw emotion. Some couples are embarrassed in front of the lens and hold it back. I always tell my couples that if you hold it back today, you will lose it forever, so don’t feel embarrassed. And in the 10 years or 20 years later, you will see it’s not a big deal to cry or to say some touching words.
Marco: Definitely Internet.
What are your interests outside of cinematography?
Alex: I also sing and I guess that’s why I’m sensitive to music and having the advantage to pick good music for our films.
Marco: Science, I love technology advancement and those who dare to change the world. My greatest muse is currently Elon Musk.
What do you love about living in QLD?
Alex: Living in QLD is very casual. There is no big population and everyone is nice.
Marco: Friendly locals, great beaches, great hinterlands, great photons. And livable winter.
Do you have any favourite places to visit in your home State or city?
Alex: My home city is Wuhan in China. It’s a very big city with over 10 million population. The good side about a big city is it has lots of good food, good shopping centers and it’s very convenient. My favourite place is same as in Brisbane – cinemas. Haha.
Marco: Broadbeach, Classy place for great food!
Thank you Alex and Marco for sharing your story. Beautiful films are always treasured and something to share over the generations. To find out more about Memento Films visit the website.
Headshot courtesy of Memento Films.