How do I decide between using interviews, speeches, or VO in a wedding film?
David Leys asked: I was wondering how you decide whether to use voice over, interviews or speeches to help carry the story. I'm guessing that after a good enough pre-interview we should best know how it can be told. Am I right? I'd imagine wanting to pull from speeches as much as possible because it's closer to showing and not telling? But you chose to interview Courtney and Jimmy because the story of his childhood dream it was best expressed in a one on one interview? What inspired a voice over for Robin and Gary? Where they not the best interviewees and you didn't anticipate much to come out of speeches?
Unfortunately there's not a one-size-fits-all for these decisions, and as you already suggest, it really depends on the couple and the story. We need to consider what information needs to be conveyed to the audience in order to provide Connection, Authenticity, Meaning, and Engagement, and we need to consider what's the most effective way to do that, and what's the most effective way to communicate a person's Big 3 Things, the 6 Essential Plot Points, etc.
With that in mind then, this is another reason why it becomes so important to craft your story in pre-production—before you even arrive to film on the wedding day (or outside the wedding day). We want to be able to consider what the story is, what all of these elements are, and consider what's the most impactful way to express them to the audience. Here are a few points to consider:
1. Having a character communicate through a speech or interview offers a greater sense of authenticity than VO.
Having a VO support a character leans more towards telling and less showing. It is inherently less believable when a voice tells you about a person versus hearing it directly from them.
Choosing between a wedding speech or interview then may depend on what you have available to you and what you need to cover to tell a strong story. For example, perhaps there's an Essential Plot Point that you know isn't covered in their speeches, and so you want to make a point to speak about it in an interview.
Choosing between a wedding speech or interview may depend on your Keywords. A wedding speech may feel a bit more scripted, it's planned out, more thoughtfully considered, more intentional. It also has a great propensity for deeply felt emotion. Whereas an interview may capture a more spontaneous and natural side of a person—it may reflect aspects of their quirky character, or other personality traits that may feel more restricted in a more formal speech. You can use your Keywords then to guide you and make these considerations.
2. Voice overs are really good at succinctly bringing in background in a way that characters often can’t.
They also can help express an idea or connection that the character may not even be aware of themselves. In the example you mentioned, with Robin and Gary, Gary's Complexity was especially essential to communicate in the beginning of the film, and in a really succinct way, in order to give the audience context to what photography meant to him and the depth of that symbol and desire. VO then was the best way to articulate this vital context more clearly and succinctly than Gary may have been able to, make that point, and then support its authenticity and showing it through strong Places.