How Three Wedding Studios Upsell Filmmaking Services

June 13, 2016

By Laura Brauer

It‘s hard to find a wedding videographer today who doesn‘t express some surprise at having landed in this business, but they‘re inevitably glad that they did. Once notorious for sub-par quality, the wedding video has seen its questionable reputation evaporate in the sleek and glamorous results of digital technology, and savvy professionals are enjoying a sort of renaissance, at once profitable and creative. Pushing services may or may not be standard practice for studio owners such as the three sharing their thoughts here, but a growing variety of dazzling options for clients make for effortless upsells.

Photo © Ella Gagiano Photography/High Class Studios

High Class Studios – Las Vegas, Nevada

With the influx of clients asking for video, Ella Gagiano and Jason Neistadt decided to expand their wedding business—with his entertainment background and love for cinematography and video editing, video was a very comfortable addition.

Editing from an artistic and storytelling perspective, Neistadt offers a basic package comprising beautifully edited 25- to 35-minute movie highlights. Higher-priced packages offer more, including full-length segments of all of the events. He also offers the option to purchase RAW and uncut footage straight out of the camera delivered on a hard drive. The clients who opt for this, Neistadt says, either want it as “an emotional purchase“ or are “technical and want to play with the footage on their own.“

Finished movies are delivered in standard definition on a DVD with simple menus, or in 1080p HD on Blu-ray with a fully animated custom DVD menu for $1,499. In general, though, delivery is rapidly being switched to USB and online, he says.

Photo © Ella Gagiano Photography/High Class Studios

Live streaming of the ceremony ($599) and the added upgrade of streaming from the reception ($299) are profitable extras. The live stream is one static shot, “just a way for guests out of the country to feel part of it,“ Neistadt says. “We add the streaming unit to the wide-shot camera facing the same direction as the lens. At that price point, a high percentage of our clients will do it. There are almost no costs involved at all—it‘s just free money.“

High Class is poised to offer a service that will allow a remote user to control a “double 2“ unit, a motorized pole with an iPad attached. “They can basically video-conference in and control the movement of the iPad,“ says Neistadt, who supposes they‘ll start the service at $1,999. “They’ll be able to move around the wedding as if they were actually there, and the bride and groom will see their long-distance guest‘s face on the screen and talk back and forth. We haven‘t implemented it yet, but we‘ve been using it in our studio and love it. The video from it can even be streamed live as well.“

Same-day edits—5- to 10-minute videos that go on the final DVD as a special feature—are lucrative, too, going for $1,499. Other upgrades include drone footage, a jib for dramatic interior shots, and full VR/360-degree segments. Neistadt will shoot 4K on the Canon C300 Mark II, or even a RED if budget allows for it, but 4K is a high-end upgrade at this point, he cautions, and studios must be set up for it.

“The biggest product we are pushing now is VR/360,“ says Neistadt, who charges $1,999 for VR, delivered with a Zeiss viewer and online. “Imagine the moment you say ‘I do‘ and turning your head, looking through the crowd, you see Grandma cry while looking at Grandpa‘s wedding ring.“

Neistadt has no trouble encouraging clients to spend money on video. He knows that his exceptional work is well worth the expense (he always uses two videographers), and he‘s seen far too many people regret not doing video after the fact to hold his tongue. “When I feel that they are on the fence I simply ask them, ‘What would you give to watch a video of your mom and dad at your age, at the moment they are feeling it and living it?‘“ And everyone, he says, wants that.

Photo © Jon Gangwer, Well Spun Weddings

Well Spun Weddings – Philadelphia Area

Well Spun Weddings owner Jon Gangwer likes to keep his wedding videos short—true to the couple and fueled by emotion—and shot in an unobtrusive manner. “Some people want something simple and lovely,“ he says, “and others want something more sophisticated and decadent.“ While he doesn‘t actively try to sell services to his clients, he helps them choose what best fits their budget, balancing wishes and limitations with trade-offs. If, for example, a second videographer is unaffordable, he might add a stationary camera on a tripod for a considerably lower cost, which beats having only
one camera.

Gangwer has found that most of his clients are not quite ready for cloud delivery yet, although he‘s set up for it. “There is still the pause, squinting of the eyes and slight head twist that precedes the question: ‘But what do I actually get in hand?‘“ So he continues to offer physical DVDs, and he will as long as they exist, in addition to the Cloud.

Photo © Jon Gangwer, Well Spun Weddings

For now, his favorite innovative offer is virtual reality/360-degree videos using a Ricoh Theta S camera, which makes for a nice upsell when clients choose to have it along with a traditional wedding video. Well Spun doesn‘t provide the video with Google Glass or another VR viewer—yet—because at this point, Gangwer says people “just enjoy viewing with their phone and being able to look anywhere they want as if they were a guest at their own wedding.“ It also makes a good standalone, less expensive option for couples that can‘t afford a traditional wedding video. Well Spun charges $1,350 for VR. (Read more about shooting VR/360-degree wedding videos starting on page 66.)

While acknowledging that 4K video makes sense as an upsell, Gangwer hasn‘t had any requests for it so it‘s not yet on his menu. However, once home technology makes it more accessible, he says, he believes it will become an expected standard. Many people consider VR/360-degree video to be a novelty, but Gangwer has faith in it. “There was a point in time when people saw owning a personal computer [as] a novelty,“ he says. “And we all know how that ended.“

© Joseph Minasi Weddings 

Joseph Minasi Weddings – Long Island, New York

As lead cinematographer and film editor for his company, Joseph Minasi works mostly in Manhattan and New Jersey, serving a large and discerning South-Asian clientele. “They don‘t want anything cheesy or staged,“ he says, emphasizing his clients‘ recognition of good cinematography when they see it. He knows how to deliver precisely what they want, and in return, he says, “they will pay top dollar.“

© Joseph Minasi Weddings

Minasi offers three packages, ranging from a 5-minute highlights film to a 90-minute feature. He never pushes a sell, but irresistible add-ons—such as a save-the-date film, concept shoots and same-day edit services—easily sell themselves, even with larger price tags; couples will typically spend between $1,200 and $2,400 on these extras. Clients can experience Minasi‘s work on a large screen with an exceptional sound system in his studio—viewings that inevitably lead to more work.

© Joseph Minasi Weddings

Minasi loves shooting on DSLR cameras, but he personally does not find 4K to be a viable upsell at this point. “Let‘s keep 4K upsells to Best Buy,“ he says. “Look at what happened to 3D. I don‘t know anyone who has a 3D TV in their house that actually watches movies in 3D.“ As for music, Minasi does the licensing himself through The Music Bed, which charges $150 for a pair of songs, a figure that can easily be added into a package price ahead of time.
Like many present-day videographers, Minasi believes that traditional still photography is an important part of the wedding day. If a company were to say, hire us to film and we will give you some stills from the video as your wedding photos, Minasi says he would run. But video is here to stay, and every year, he says, he finds that wedding cinematography becomes more and more popular.

Romy Ashby is a writer and photographer in New York City. She contributes regularly to PDN. You can find out more at: