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  • Writer's pictureCBJ Films

How We Got Together: How it came together

A couple of years ago — around about the time our spineless prime minister was making everyone else decide whether or not LGTBQI people should be allowed to get married — I decided to make an engagement video for my friends Ella and Steph. I told them to come over to my place one afternoon where I sat them dow

n on the couch, lit them nicely and arranged some flowers on the coffee table before proceeding to ask them a series of questions that would facilitate a discussion between the two of them (and the camera) about how they had got to where they were: newly engaged and waiting for Steph’s visa to get approved so they could fly back to the states and to get married.

It was so much fun.

Along with the timeline questions such as “when did you meet?” and “how did you get engaged?” I asked them things like “who’s got the worst taste in music?” and “what do you love about each other?”. What unfolded was a really beautiful and open conversation between the two of them about their relationship. They agreed on most things, but had different opinions on other things including how certain important events in their relationship transpired. After a while I wasn’t even looking at the list of questions I’d written and we basically all three of us just laughed and talked about how in love they both were.

After the interview, Steph and Ella jumped in the car with me and I took them up to Mount Lofty where I filmed them traipsing around the beautiful gardens — I even got them to do a little reenactment of Ella’s proposal! On the way home I suggested we stopped in at a nursery so I could get some shots of them hoarding pot plants, something they had talked about them both loving during the interview.

That evening my wife Cashmere and I joined the two lovebirds for a drive-in movie at Gepps Cross and this was perfect as they’d also mentioned in their interview never having gone to a drive-in movie before — so of course I filmed that too.

I got them to send me a few of their favourite photos of each other and assembled a 10-minute film for them to show at their engagement party the next week. I was there on the night when it got played for everyone and I was so excited to see how much people laughed and cried at it. I was like, “yep, I’ve got to make more of these.”

Nothing happened for two years.

Then one wintery day in 2020 I’m slumped at my desk having survived 4 months of anxiety and depression thanks to Covid-19 when I remembered Steph and Ella’s engagement video. I sat up straight in my chair, dusted the cookie crumbs off my onesie and realised that this could be a chance for me to contribute the next big thing to the wedding videographer sphere: engagement videos. But not just engagement videos — because love as we all know comes in many different forms. But films about how people met and fell in love. Because everyone loves a good love story. And I mean weddings will tend to touch on this part of a couple’s relationship whether it’s during the ceremony or speeches, but it’s usually glossed over pretty quickly. And while a couple will have plenty of chances to tell each other how they feel on the day, from personal experience as both a videographer and a groom myself, there are so many time constraints and other pressures on a wedding day that you often might not be able to say all the things you want to say. Not that this is a pre-requisite of a healthy relationship but the chance to truly share your feelings about each other in a public setting is, I feel, really valuable. Not only does your partner get to hear those lovely things from you but the people watching can also benefit greatly and enrich their own relationships with a piece of knowledge they learned from you.

So that was the basic thought process behind it. That and the fact that I may never get to film another wedding ever again as long as this virus keeps ruining everything! Of course, I sincerely hope that this isn’t the case for everyone’s sake — but it couldn’t hurt to get prepared for a shift in the focus of my work.

I toyed around with a few names for the film concept and landed on “How We Got Together”. I love it because firstly I’m a huge ‘How I Met Your Mother’ fan and secondly because it perfectly summed up the thesis of the video without making it appear exclusive to engaged folk. I scrubbed up Steph and Ella’s video with the new title and showed it to my brother-in-law and his fiancée who jumped at the opportunity to have one made in the lead up to their big day. I also visited one of my favourite past wedding couples Sarah and Adam, who were more than happy to catch up for another filming session and it was great to make a HWGT film for a couple who had already been married a while.

There are so many things I have loved about making these films so far. For one, they allow me to slow down and be a little more creative when I’m so used to the fast-pace filming of live events; I’m enjoying the opportunity I get to think about how to set up, light and decorate couch interviews in people’s homes; I love getting the chance to actually TALK to couples and have a laugh when usually I need to be quiet and film everything candidly; and the thing I love most of all about these films is seeing people open up to each other, express their feelings and discuss their experiences with each other in front of the camera. While the concept of discussing a relationship may seem daunting and at first it may feel so, after two or three questions I find that we are relaxed and comfortable in each other’s presence. Once this happens, those amazing stories and tidbits start flying, and it’s truly wonderful getting to capture that.

It’s only the beginning but I’m so excited to have this new phoenix of a film idea to work with. Not only is it a glimmer of hope for me (and hopefully soon other filmmakers) in the wake of an uncertain time ahead, but also I expect that ‘How We Got Together’ films will serve as a fun and just as romantic alternative to wedding videography if and when couples need to make that difficult call about their special day.



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