Ray Roman is 6′ + tall, very muscular, and can sometimes be physically intimidating. You have to be when you deal with the mob. And it also helps when you’re dealing with the M.O.B. – as in “mother of the bride.” Ray is someone who has been in a situation where he’s done both. From drug-busting cop, to award-winning wedding filmmaker. Huh?! If you’re scratching your head, then sit back and read a very engaging story. Ray was kind enough to share his story with my readers. You won’t be disappointed. From this point on, these are the words of my friend and colleague, Mr. Ray Roman (sorry ladies, he is happily married!) Part 1 begins…
A Hard Cop with a Soft Heart
Back in 2006 when I started this wedding video thingy (geez, has it been 5 years already?), it was really just a hobby. I thought, “Can I do something that pays more than these moon lighting jobs i was doing as a cop?” Well, as I began to grow and somewhat understand the business (and the wedding industry in general), I realized that it was really about who had the best price (when it came to video). Because quite frankly, everything looked very similar (kinda like how it does today, funny enough). Well, my thing back then was that I didn’t want to end up becoming just some “anybody” who offered a nice looking video. I knew I had to do something that set me apart from the competition. AND JUST SO YOU KNOW – I am VERY competitive.
The first thing I remember doing was producing a really cool movie trailer option that accompanied the films at that time. I also offered these really cool movie posters. Once I did this, I noticed the feedback from the clients changed. Now I heard them say things like: “It feels like I’m watching a movie” and “I’ve never seen anything like this before”. I knew I was on the right track, because now I was able to charge more. Simply because it didn’t look the same as “everyone else”. I give you this bit of background, because it’s been my secret formula ever since.
Breaking the Mold
Even though things will always tend to look the same (especially in a very copycat type of industry), the hardest part is doing things that no one else is doing (or that will eventually be copied). That way you never fall into the trap of being chosen based on the best price. If you look around right now, everything looks very stillmotion-ish (where everyone has mastered the art of filming every last angle of someone changing their tire, setting up a reception table, making coffee or frying an egg). Everyone has HD DSLRs, steadicam’s and sliders, but who is being different? Who stands out? There are a limited few.
This is where I try and raise the bar a notch and do something that sticks out from the norm. I have to. I feel like it’s my duty. Especially since there are lots of people that look to me for inspiration (now that’s funny, but it’s true, I swear. LOL) [Ron's comment: are ex-SWAT dudes allowed to use "LOL"? Just wondering. But I digress. Back to Ray's story.] So whether it’s doing awesome graphic animations for my current day movie trailers to the Hollywood designed movie posters, or just finding new ways to shoot amazing imagery, I challenge myself every time to do something a bit different from the last (or from the industry norm). Funny enough, five years later, I still get the same response from clients when they see my work in the studio: “It feels like i’m watching a movie” and “I’ve never seen anything like this before”
Fears & Fundamentals
So I’ll be completely honest here when I tell you that beyond all the doors I busted open during drug raids to battling all types of crime on the street, there’s always been one thing I was petrified of doing and that’s public speaking. How the heck I’m speaking at conferences, seminars and workshops is still unbelievable to me. I remember one year just before I got on stage at INFOCUS, I couldn’t breathe and when I tried to speak, no words would come out of my mouth. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed as much in my life. But suddenly, when I got up on stage and began talking about my new found passion (wedding cinematography), all the nervous bugs went away..and I was fine.
I truly believe most videographers are just a few fundamentals away from becoming great artists. This is why i’m so passionate about our workshops and educating other videographers. Because it’s not THAT difficult. I think alot of videographers are either too scared to try new things or it’s easier just sticking with what they know (which might not be that much). I’ve always found that the best way I’ve learned is by doing things hands-on. This is why I take videographers through a complete wedding – hands on – with no stones left unturned. I’ve always been very open with our work and if you speak to anyone that has come along for the ride (during an actual wedding), they can tell you, I expose everything we do at an actual wedding in the workshops. I’ve always taught fundamentals, because I believe it’s the one area videographers tend to skip. The main problem is that if you have a weak foundation, the film is going to get weak at some point and you might begin to get exposed as an amateur at some point. Anyone can belt together a 2-3 minute trailer/ highlights with footage from a day long event (heck, when I first started, I used to make some really good trailers and highlights). But what does the main feature/full length film look like? That’s where you get exposed and THAT’S the main product clients are paying for in most cases.
For some people, their pride and joy is producing highlights or the same day edit. For us, it’s always been the short form feature film. It takes lots of attention to detail, teamwork and being fundamentally strong to make these films into stunning pieces of work. But it’s very possible for anyone to do it. It just takes some education and dedication. Winning the top Wedding and Event Videographer Association (WEVA) Creative Excellence Award for short-form the past 2 years proved that all the hard work had paid off. But beyond that it proved that if an ex-cop with no experience and in business less than 5 years could do it…then anyone could do it.
Tomorrow is part 2 where Ray talks about his upcoming workshop and the amazing looking promo concept film behind it. You won’t want to miss how he did it.
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