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in Filmmaking
on Nov 15, 2006

Because it was in the “Small Business” section, some of you may have missed this piece in the New York Times on the future of film.

An excerpt:

A WEDDING, as the saying goes, is the beginning of a new life. But for Paul and Kristine Korver, it was also the start of a novel business. Soon after they married, they founded Fifty Foot Films, a Hollywood-based company that is dedicated to fixing major life events on film — a medium that many videographers regard as too risky, sensitive and pricey to be profitable.

In the last four years, the company’s films have captured some high-profile unions, including the pop star Christina Aguilera’s to the producer Jordan Bratman; the baseball player Mike Piazza’s to the former Playboy playmate Alicia Rickter; and the actress Mariska Hargitay’s to a fellow “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” actor, Peter Hermann….

… Mr. Korver’s films, which are made with a combination of hand-held, tripod-mounted and Steadicam-mounted cameras, have the feel of hip art movies. Establishing shots set the time and place, and the story of the day unfolds like a visual tone poem, accompanied by music and voice-overs. Synchronized sound is used for important moments, like the vows. “It looks like it could be an old home movie,” Ms. Capshaw said, “but at the same time there’s something very modern and clever about it.”

…Yet Mr. Korver has made his labor-intensive product relatively affordable, at least in the context of today’s wedding budgets, which now average $27,852, according to a 2006 Condé Nast bridal report. The company’s prices, on par with those for high-end video coverage, have not changed much from the beginning. The typical range for a 45-minute full-day film with synchronized sound is from $12,500 for Super 8 to $27,500 for 16 millimeter. They also offer a $3,500 do-it-yourself Honeymoon Director’s Pack; it includes a Super 8 camera rental, a coaching session and eight rolls of film, which the company later edits into a movie. (That’s how Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott documented their elopement to Fiji earlier this year.)

Mr. Korver is continuing to expand. This year, Fifty Foot produced its first big-budget Hollywood-style project — a 35-millimeter wedding movie filmed in Hawaii, complete with helicopter shots, for a cost in the low six figures. And early next year, Paper Tape, a budget offshoot, will be introduced. Its intention, Mr. Korver said, is “to democratize the filmmaking process, to try to make the beauty of Super 8 film available to more average wedding budgets.”

The company, which will take over Fifty Foot’s lower-priced business, will have an outpost in most major metropolitan areas around the country, the better to cut down on travel costs. Priced at $3,000 to $7,000, the movies will be shot by local filmmakers on Super 8 and edited at Fifty Foot’s offices in Hollywood. For the last few months, Mr. Korver has been recruiting and training frustrated film-school graduates, and he has had no trouble finding talent.

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