The Wedding Film Maker

The wedding business. Boy oh boy… As a musician / photographer / film maker I have such a passion for creating stuff. From doing a low-budget music video to mid to high budget weddings and even now and again writing a song and recording it. They all have good and bad parts about them but as long as you love what you do and create the best content you can, you will love working. 95% of my work are wedding films.  I love to be a part of someones big life changing day and design them this beautiful Hollywood style feature film. Feature film? well they average from 20-30 minutes in this world. What? yep. Well now think about it. You hangout with people for 10 hours, shoot clips through out the day, travel, set, up, break down, set up and break down again, you really only have maybe 3 hours of footage depending on how many cameras you have running.

I have been in this business in a few different ways such as a DJ, photographer and film maker over the past 18 years. I think the hardest and most rewarding is making a film. You need to really educate your clients about your product before they book you. Times are different today and some people still think that you’re gonna make them some 2 hour video. Cinematic videos are nothing like the old days. Out of the 2-3 hours of footage things end on the old cutting room floor as they say. Just like a tv show may film for five 15 -18 hour days and you get a 44 min tv show. Same with movies. Hollywood features can be filmed from 2 months to 3 years depending what the film involves. For wedding films to have a nice flow and be interesting to sit back and watch with out boring yourself and the people around you only needs to be 20-30 minutes. All the great keep moments, key parts  of what the guest say. You have the length of a TV sitcom to tell a great story. Hey Seinfeld did it every week about nothing! you can do it about a day at a wedding.

As much as every wedding is the same, they are different. Each couple has their own personality. You can’t just make someone comfortable in front of a camera and spit out a detailed monologue about their life together. Some people want to do it and others want nothing to do with talking on camera. Is what it is.  Your job is to make a beautiful film any way you can. You ever hear that a picture can tell 1000 words? well you have 24 pictures a second helping you tell this story! Sometimes when a couple doesn’t want to say anything you can maybe luck out and get a great officiant and use their words. Many times they have met up with the couple and learn about them and put together a whole back story you can use as voice over.

Well now you have all this great footage. what do you do now? Get cutting! I have this love hate relationship with editing and it has nothing to do with editing. I fight my computer most mornings till it feels like working  or I’m yelling at it because It some how deleted half my edit. BUT, that put aside I put a lot of work in to post production as that’s where the art and magic is. I film in C-log, canon log, that’s a very flat image with a lot of range from the shadows to highlights. This gives you around 12 stops of control when you film like this. Yes, its more work in the end but its worth it when your work looks amazing. This is how its done in Hollywood. Film flat, color correct, color grade and some effects like light flair. Then Music selection. This is always crucial. A song selection can kill you! Use correct relevant music. These days I tend to stay more on the cinematic side, instrumental mostly (piano, strings, drums) sometimes a good song with vocals if I can also find the instrumental version. I like to no I can cut in and out of the vocals when needed. But a song needs to move you. Like every song and movie they need low points and high points. I try hard to find one song that has it all, and I do at times, other times I need to get 2 or 3 songs. It all comes down to the mood. Many times I have to edit songs to loop something or get to the climax faster. You do what needs to be done to get your video where is needs to be. Below is a little look in to post production. don’t forget about Foley! whats that? Foley is the reproduction of ambient sound such as foot steps, doors, clapping, wind any of that stuff. It is recorded with high-end equipment and edited back in to your film so that you can control all the sound and mix everything proper like you would a true movie. This will keep all your sound clean and fully mixable. When you filming a live event like a wedding audio can be a nightmare so we do everything we can to keep it clean and perfect.

As for editing, I mostly keep my story line normal. Im not a big fan of this time jumping for the most part. I like my stories to be like I’m watching a real movie. Start, middle and end. I find it a bit hard to follow when you are at a rehearsal dinner, then bride walking down the isle, then the grooms getting ready then to first dance back to the vows at ceremony. Some people love it but its just not really for me.  Just creative what you love and what feels good for you. Good Luck!

Premiere of Kathy Troccoli’s new music video “I wait”

Kathy Troccoli – “I wait”
(Filmed and Edited by Jon Santos / Rock Life Studios)

Jon Santos / Rock Life

Jon Santos / Rock Life Studios
Filming with Canon c100, Canon 70-200 F2.8

What a fun few days it was in Long Island N.Y. working with  Kathy Troccoli on her new music videos. All of us have worked together on other projects in the recording studio or for photo shoots over the years and it’s nothing but fun and amazing each time.  Matt Margiotta sat in for a guest appearance on drums for “I Wait”. It was great seeing him. I produced his album back in 2010 and to this day is one of my favorite projects that had walked in to my recording studio. Look them up on iTunes “Ninth Hour”

Guitarist / Vocalist, Michelle Margiotta and I always have so much fun hanging out when we get the chance. She is so talented and funny and has such a big heart. I filmed a music video for her song Created to Worship back in 2009. WOW how cameras and gear have changed since then! Look her up on iTunes. It runs in that family. Michelle and Matt have amazing albums download them!

Patrick is also a good friend of everyone and has to be one of the most amazing bassist I have come across in my years. He plays this amazing 6 string bass with such fanes. he is a true master of his craft.

Kathy, You can’t say enough about her. She is the warmest human being I have ever met in my life. Over 30 amazing years in the music business, with many ups and down that the biz can toss you, she has walked through with them and such grace. She’s worked with some of the greats like The Beach boys and Jim Brickman to name a few. Kathy is so easy to work with and has so much  talent and experience that she is a well oiled machine ready to go at a moments notice. Even when the hours got long and all where getting tired she sat on the floor and performed “If I only had his heart” with so much emotion and simplicity that you just couldn’t do anything but watch how cute her performance was.

Some of the most fun I have is on music videos not only because I get to bring out all the gear but I’m a musician and love music. Music really is the one thing we all speak. I can’t read or write music myself but I have had a great, but short music career in the past as a singer, song writer and touring artist on major record label Wind Up Records. Projects like this have a big place in my heart.

(Seven wiser, Fallzone & Jon Santos are projects of Jon that you can find on iTunes)

Jon Santos / Rock Life Studios

a simple basic light set up. three 500 watt lights and 6 foot diffusion panel

Jon Santos / Rock Life Studios

some nice set props

Jon Santos / Rock Life Studios

Canon c100, Canon 24-70 f2.8, ProAm Orion DVC200 12ft Camera Crane

Jon Santos / Rock Life Studios

Canon c100, Canon 24-70 f2.8, F&V R-300 ring light

Post production was time consuming but fun. 14 camera takes. Not 14 camera but 14 takes with one camera. We filmed this one video in about 5 hours with set up time and working out a few things with lighting. A lot of things where set up from filming another video the night before.  I wanted to keep this video very soft so I used 1,000 watts of lights and a 6 foot diffuser with blue gels in front of the diffuser to cool down the light to match a bit more to the outside color temp. I love to bring out the crane now and then and this was a nice room and a light fixture that added a bit of depth to the crane movement.

Jon Santos / Rock Life StudiosJon Santos / Rock Life Studios

I edited this video on my Mac book pro in Full HD (not proxy) streaming all 14 takes plus the song track and it was amazing. for some reason my lap top works better with large multi camera edits like this. Can’t figure that out but the result of this simple video was so pleasing. Hope you all enjoy the song and video. You can down load it on iTunes very soon!

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.01.39 AM



Featured in Digital FilmMaker Magazine



It’s great to start up a business, work hard, invest everything you have to get something off the ground. There is nothing better then working for your self doing what you love to do. When something like this comes along it makes every minute and dollar invested worth it. A great magazine that I read all the time did this amazing 6 page spread on me and my business Rock Life Studios. You can download it on iTunes today or even try to pick up a copy of issue 21 in your local Barns & Noble soon. It’s an honor to be published is a world wide distributed magazine and recognized for the work you do.


GoPro 4 in 4k and testing the Canon 7D Mark II


Just had my first chance to look at the new Canon 7D Mark ii and I have to say its dam good. The video I much better than the 70d. It’s up on the lines with the 5D markiii with … Continue reading

2015 Movies I can’t wait for!

Jurassic World.

I remember the day I went to see the first Jurassic Park in the theater 21 years ago. WOW has that many years past by? Well, There I was, a 14 year old kid seeing the most one of the most amazing advances in film of its time. It was the first time I had seen a dinosaur movie that was believable. If you are like me, in your mid 30’s and went to see this film when it came out in 1993 do you remember that feeling when you first saw that Brontosaurus walk in to the shot? the first time you saw the T-rex on the big screen? IT WAS UNREAL! I’m hoping this new movie for the new generation of teens will have that impact that I got 21 years ago. I’m not sure it will only because we are so used to the outrageous CG we see in every movie


Unlike the last 3 poor looking movies and the re-release of the first 3 with all that extra really bad CG tossed in to it that only made some of my favorite movies the worst movies I think they finally got it right. J.J. Abrams has taken Star Wars in to the most realistic looking world from what we get to preview in this trailer. Abrams did such a great job with Star Trek and I think he may have done a better job with Star Wars. I just can’t wait to see this movie!

Batman Vs Superman 2016

I’m just pissed off that I have to wait till 2016 for this movie but I came across this trailer from ComicCon so I wanted to share it anyway.

Xhail – A way to create you Music Bed

Ok so this looks like it can be a power full tool for people to have and if you watch the video its not running on a algorithm. Its real music tracks that you can add instruments and alter a full peace of music just like you would in something like protools. As a Cinematographer / Musician / former recording studio owner myself, I can see this being huge for many film makers and even game developers that can not produce there own original sound tracks. This Also gives studios and musician a new modern way of creating and being part of the entertain business. Its not in anyway a AUTO EDIT MY FILM WITH MUSIC its a generator just like The Music Bed or Song freedom. You search the style / feel your looking for (cinematic, drama, pop, rock) and it will gerenorate real music to fit that feel that you can fully control. Its rather genius. Imagine having Hanz Zimmer giving you his full track session recording from his recording studio that you can now just use the piano or the strings or the drums, and change the timing on something? its an unlimited way to create with ultimate control. Pretty awesome if you ask me! – Jon Santos

Wedding Films

Here is some new work from recent weddings.  It has been fun to add in some footage from the sky! As a huge superman fan its really amazing having control over something in the air.  It lets you see your every day world from different eyes. To be able to fly around my environment and not only say WOW, look at that, my clients are blown away at the view point that not even there photograph will give them.  I gives me new inspiration to film, to get to a place I never was able to get to and adds an amazing production value that your clients are used to seeing on the big screen.