A behind the scenes interview with church filmmaker Tyler Vincent about how he made his testimonial film Matt’s Story.
So how’d this project come about? What was it for?
It was the testimony video for the Easter service at Hope Community Church in 2018. The church actually had already done this particular story two years prior before I got there, but the piece felt rushed and dated.
How were you able to manage getting a fresh interview from Matt given that he had been through this once before?
We had a different team working at the church by the time we did this story again. We knew to keep pushing for questions even if things got emotional. Again, I wasn’t there for the first interview but the focus for that one was more about him playing baseball at North Carolina State University. We knew what we wanted from the story this time around. I guess it’s always easier to see a finished video and then make it a goal to just re-do it better. Also, it was clear that Matt didn’t talk about his dad that much because it still made him very emotional and he made it clear that this was the second or third time he’d ever really processed talking about this part of his life.
What did you guys shoot the project with?
The interview, small group, cafe scene and baseball field was C100mkii. The bedroom scene and old tv in the studio was Ursa Mini Pro. Everything except the baseball field was Rokinon primes. The baseball field was Canon 16-35 L mkii. Interview was on two monopods. B-ROLL was handheld and the baseball field scene was with an easy rig. Oh, and for audio it was all Rode NTG 2.
So did you edit this as well or what exactly was your role(s) on this project?
Yea, since I was assigned the project I had to make it all happen. Since it was Easter everyone else was super busy with their projects so aside from the interview, I shot everything else by myself. I had to edit, color and mix the project, too – all in a week…so that was fun! haha
Wow. So what was the order of production then? Interview first then b-roll, studio TV stuff, etc.? or did you have everything mapped out ahead of time?
We filmed the interview first. I edited the story down to the runtime it’s at now and then added the music and then re-edited the story to have gaps that flow with the music. I had a rough plan for the footage I wanted based on the beats of the story. I knew the scenes I wanted, but I just figured out the shots when I got there. I filmed the TV stuff in the studio the next day after going through hours of someone else’s home video footage (so exciting! haha). Then I filmed at his house doing the bedroom scene and that night went to film him at the cafe with his friends. The next morning was bright and early at the baseball field and then his small group was that night. In the edit I try to build mini stories from each b-roll scene that make sense sequentially (like the scene of him stepping up to the plate and hitting the ball at the end). I knew before that I wanted to use metaphor, I wanted the baseball to represent his addiction.
That’s crazy dude. Do you normally work on that tight of a turnaround?
Not usually. I was going on a two week vacation a month before Easter and so when I got back I had to tackle the thing like crazy. We would normally have two weeks for regular videos. I don’t know what it’s like now. I stopped working there last may.
Ah, ok. What’s something that you learned during this production?
I’d say my biggest take away was that I need to fight for a story that I believe is good. I was met with a lot of opposition with this one. I was told to change the music to something I felt was cheap and didn’t hit with the same impact. I was also told to cut it shorter because the church was really firm on videos being super short. I actually pushed back and learned to voice my mind and convince people to trust my vision and give reasons behind my decisions.
So did they end up playing this version of the film or did you have to make a shorter cut for Sunday?
This one posted here is the “Director’s Cut”. I ended up having to cut out the scene of him hanging out in the cafe and talking about Wes being his mentor for the version that played on Sunday. So there were compromises still for sure.
Anything else you want other church filmmakers to know about the project?
I would encourage all church filmmakers to learn to articulate your process. You may feel you have the greatest idea in your head and want to surprise and wow everyone with the finished product but that usually isn’t the best route to go. Pastors or executive staff may not have that level of trust in you yet and need to be educated on the reason they should invest time and resources into a project. If you get good at pitching your ideas and having an answer to the questions that will most likely be asked and can show others a plan on how to get it done, you’ll have a better chance of seeing the vision in your mind come to life. I know I’m still learning that the hard way most of the time because I love the technical and creative side of filmmaking, but not so much the pre-production or client relation side.
That’s a good word, thanks man!