Video + Filmmaking

The Making of a WPPI Award-Winning Film: Amanda + Blake by Blue Kite Cinema

June 15, 2016

By RF Staff

Colin Rieser and Nick Wilson are both self-taught filmmakers and recipients of the Third Place Award in the Wedding/Engagement Films category in the Filmmaking Division at WPPI 2016. Having met in music school in New Jersey, the duo began working together by writing and producing music for their rock band, Escape Directors. After recognizing their mutual passion for filmmaking, they moved to Los Angeles and founded the wedding cinematography company Blue Kite Cinema

RF: What separates Blue Kite Cinema from other wedding cinematography companies? How do you differentiate your business? 
Colin Rieser and Nick Wilson:
We like to emit a sense of youth and adventure in our marketing, and this attracts the couples we’ve filmed. We encourage our couples to add us on Facebook and are open about the fact that we love tacos and tequila and a really good party. Weddings are fun! Our favorite weddings are ones where we are having Sunday brunch with the couple after a long weekend of filming and partying. Stylistically, our films are very dialogue-driven. We not only focus on capturing beautiful shots for the couple, we focus on first learning their story and then telling it in a way that even strangers can become immersed. Being approachable and straightforward about ourselves helps to do this.

RF: What is your film gear of choice?
CR + NW:
We currently shoot with Canon C100 Mark II cameras and all Canon L lenses. We upgraded to these from the 5D Mark III when we were hired to film an infomercial early last year and immediately fell in love with the picture quality. They are quick and easy to work with in the run-and-gun manner that is required on a wedding day, as well as in more fine-tuned commercial settings. We have a DJI Inspire (but if the Feds ask, we’ve never flown it). [We were both] band geeks back in the day, so in [the audio] department we have various recorders, microphones and wireless body packs for the bride, groom, DJ feed, etc. that gets used depending on the shoot. 

RF: Now let’s talk about the winning WPPI video! How did you meet the clients, Amanda and Blake
CR + NW: On our website we have this Super Original Silly Mad Libs Form (SOSMLF), and one of the fill-in-the-blanks let’s us know how the couple found us. But the bride, Amanda, bypassed the SOSMLF and emailed us directly so we don’t have record of how they found us! Usually couples find us through referrals from a photographer or wedding planner around the country. We pride ourselves at working really well alongside other vendors so they like to work with us. 

RF: What was the preparation like before the big day? How many times did you meet or communicate with Amanda and Blake to produce all of the segments in the video?
CR + NW:
With Blake and Amanda, we had the initial email thread, the initial Skype call and then a follow-up Skype call a few weeks before the wedding. In these calls we hung out with them, asked them about their story, how they met, how the proposal went, the aspects of the wedding that are really important to them, etc. They also learned about us so that when we got to the wedding we felt like third cousins rather than “those random videographer dudes who are filming us.” Most of our weddings these days are all-weekend events, so we love to go with the couple on whatever activities or adventures they have planned—which, in the case of Blake and Amanda, was rafting. It brings a fresh perspective to the wedding video.

RF: What was it like on the actual wedding day? What are some of the biggest challenges and how do you overcome them? 
CR + NW:
There were no challenges for us to overcome, however Blake and Amanda decided the day before the wedding to hire our river raft guide as the officiate and to also move the ceremony to the rafting venue! They were incredibly easy-going about the change, which made it all the more fun. 

RF: How did this wedding differ (if at all) from other weddings that you’ve captured?
CR + NW:
This wedding was much different than other weddings because there were less than 12 people in the whole wedding. We were equal to 20 percent of the wedding party! It made for a really immersive experience for us not only as participants, but also as the storytellers for their event. One of the earlier themes of the weekend came from filming and interviewing the maid of honor. She was hilariously stumped by the questions and so to put her at ease, the three of us all got beers and whenever she started overthinking, she would scream, “Beer break!” and we would all drink and start over. When we told the rest of the wedding (the other few people there) about this, everyone started yelling “beer break” randomly throughout the weekend and without a doubt, everyone would break from what they were doing and have a drink!

RF: How about the editing process? How did you choose the music, video length, which scenes to feature, etc.? How long did the total editing process take?
CR + NW:
We pride ourselves on using our music background instincts to pick out just the right song that fits the couple, the weekend, the story and the flow of the film. As for which scenes to feature, it all comes down to what B-roll shots complement the story the most. When sitting down to edit, we think, “How can this shot further the story?” If a shot doesn’t further the story, the shot is never seen. The total editing process probably took three to four days.

RF: In your opinion, what do you think it takes to make a winning WPPI video? What enticed you to submit this particular video over others in your portfolio?
CR + NW:
This video had all the “winning” aspects: awesome couple, great story and emotion, unique adventure and beautiful shots. We have a litmus test for our films: we send them to Nick’s girlfriend to watch and we know how good they are based on how many emojis she responds with. This film got many, many bawling smilies, so we knew we had a solid one. But it really all comes back to putting together a compelling story. Beautiful shots are nothing if there is no story to drive them. And it didn’t hurt that we got some epic drone shots of them white water rafting to create the hook at the beginning of the video!

RF: What elements from your video do you think stood out to the judges?
CR + NW:
Today’s technology is a blessing and curse. We’re so inundated with massive amounts of quality content every second that our attention spans are bordering on non-existent. So just like a hit song, you need a good hook, and we think this film has a great hook! It’s like when that bass line starts in DNCE’s “Cake By The Ocean”—you’re not turning off that song (seriously, don’t turn off that song, it’s great). From our perspective, the hook in this film puts you in a comfortable space to live in it and enjoy it wholly.

RF: What’s next for Blue Kite Cinema?
CR + NW:
This year we are working on some short films, writing a TV pilot, have a few commercial projects and we have weddings from Hawaii to Rhode Island. We love to travel as much as possible, so more of whatever leads to that. And yes, we are excited to submit to WPPI again next year! Just wait until you see the skydiving wedding film!


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