The Scene Setters

Forget canned footage. The special moments that make your big day one-of-a-kind are cinematic gold for Brighter Lights Media’s Christian Nachtrieb and Chris Scesny.

Brighter Lights Media

photograph by jj miller

When Christian Nachtrieb and Chris Scesny decided to leave their jobs shooting Houghton Mifflin Harcourt marketing videos to launch their own production company in 2011, they’d never even seen a wedding video, let alone made one. But when a friend mentioned that she didn’t have a videographer for her upcoming nuptials, Nachtrieb and Scesny jumped at the chance to get some work for their fledgling business. “We just did what we thought was right, and she loved it and spread it around,” Nachtrieb says. “It was kind of by accident.”

A happy accident, the two would certainly agree. Now working with about 20 couples per year, Brighter Lights Media crafts short-form videos (each lasting from five to 15 minutes) that play out like mini movies, carefully edited to tell each pair’s unique tale. Ahead, Nachtrieb and Scesny, based in Somerville and Albany, New York, respectively, discuss exactly what goes into capturing all of those moving memories.

What makes your style unique?

C.N. We’re not just there to document the day; we’re there to tell a story. So part of our process is to get to know people. We learn about how the couple met, what they like to do together, and what parts of the day are important to them. People tell us all the time that they tear up watching the films we do, and the reason for that is because we shape them in such a way that it feels like you’re getting to know the people in it. 

C.S. We do take the time to plan out everything beforehand—we want to tell a story. And in order to tell a story, you have to know more about what you’re shooting. We’re not just going in blindly. We’re storyboarding, game-planning, and setting up every-thing ahead of time so it’s not just a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-type of thing.

Do couples really watch their wedding video more than once?

C.S. A thing we hear from friends of clients is, “We wish we had this kind of wedding video when we got married.” They’re used to the two-hour documentary-style approach in which you’re just watching everything chronologically. It’s boring. We try to create a timeless piece. We hear all the time how people watch it on their anniversary, and they just can’t believe how good it is even a year later—how it’s really like reliving the moment.

What makes a good wedding video?

C.N. If the couple can relate to it, if it’s personalized for them. If a video is starting off with the shoe shot, the dress shot, and the ring shot, I can tell you I’m probably not going to like it. It’s just too generic.

Are there certain moments you’re looking for during filming?

C.N. We send a questionnaire to couples beforehand, and it’s pretty extensive. We’ll ask them what part of the day they’re most looking forward to, so we have a collection of moments they’re excited for. We put a star in our itinerary and know to be aware of that. 

Why is it important to invest in a professional wedding video?

C.N. The biggest thing is the sound. You can pay to have a really great photographer at your wedding and get some amazing shots, but he can’t capture sound the way we can. You’re never going to hear how you sounded during your vows. It also lets you see the day from another perspective. It’s something I’ve heard over and over again: Your wedding day whizzes by. So we’re not only there to give the gift of a memory, but to add our own unique twist to it, to make it seem larger than life. 

How do you interact with guests and other vendors? 

C.N. We have our own professional code of conduct that we follow. We’re not moving around during the ceremony. We have a couple of cameras going at the same time, so we don’t have to move. We want to blend in as much as we can, even down to what we wear: We dress in ties and slacks, so we look like guests at the wedding.

C.S. We always reach out to the photographer ahead of time and let them know that they’re basically running the show, and we’re just shadowing them. We’re not trying to take over. We’re all here to work for the couple to make their day the best ever.

How can a couple get the most out of their wedding video?

C.N. Make sure you’re comfortable with your shooter, whomever you hire. Aside from the photographer or your planner, we’re with you the most throughout the day. The other thing is trust. Trust that we know what we’re doing and that we’re there not only to make a great product, but also something that you’re really going to love. We want to make you happy and make a great piece for you.

5 Walker St., Somerville, 617-229-5027, brighterlightsmedia.com.

TIPS

Make your silver-screen debut in style with these four essential shots from the Brighter Lights Media team. 

The City Stroll

Onlookers tend to cheer and congratulate the couple.

The Flower Girl

She’ll usually do something adorable and unpredictable.

The Sunset

Each is different and it’s always fun to chase the light.

The Dance Floor

Someone is usually ready to cut loose.

For additional tips from the pros, check out more advice from Wedding Experts.