NY Daily News

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Recording the courting for posterity

Why hire a wedding photographer when you can have a wedding documentarian? The already extravagant bridal industry introduces its most elaborate element yet: professional, personalized movies following the pair's fairy tale courtship.

But couples ready for their closeup had better be ready to cough up serious cash: At about a grand per minute, these reels run $10,000 to $12,000 for a 10- to 12-minute video.

Lifefilm Productions, co-founded by Peilin Chou and John Brancaccio, goes leaps and bounds beyond slide shows and videographers. "We're very big about creating a story arc," Chou says. "It's a very deep, emotional, full-fledged story about how a couple met, how they proposed. We even go back to when they were born and interview their parents."

Chou and Brancaccio had made films for friends and family before taking their company public last year. It's a costly investment, but couples walk away with the ultimate family heirloom.

Lisa Yuen, a Broadway actress, and her golf pro husband, Kevin Rhoads, were looking to make their wedding memorable and decided on a Lifefilm. "I think anytime you say you spent a certain amount of money on a wedding, people say you're crazy," Yuen says. "We're not rich, but we definitely spent the money in places we thought were well spent, and we got something really unique and special to us that we'll treasure the rest of our lives."

And it's the gift that keeps on giving. "Everyone I know has a copy," says Yuen, who watched her own movie at least 30 times. "The first time I watched it, I called them and said, 'You did an amazing job. I am in love with myself after seeing this!'"

West Village couple Chris and Gilda Green's video on Lifefilm.com features their own interviews paired with confessionals from friends and family artfully spliced with baby photos while Maroon 5 croons in the background. "They capture all that nuance and all the things that make it your unique experience," says the happy husband. "People were just speechless when they first saw it. It's superprofessional, like a '60 Minutes' piece."

Most Lifefilms take 10 to 16 weeks to produce. The clients pick whom they want interviewed and pore over photos and videos to contribute, while a professional production team takes care of setting up the shoot, editing the footage and putting all the pieces together. Couples can pick their own music, or even have a composer write a score.

Although Lifefilms can be customized for any milestone, weddings are the most popular, both as a surprise to the bride or groom, or as a planned part of the rehearsal dinner or reception.

"It's a communal viewing experience that brings everyone in the room on the same page, and makes everyone a lot more personally invested in wanting to see the couple succeed," says Chou.

Adds Chris Green, "It's a really good thing to share with people who couldn't be there. We did that for my grandparents, and they loved it."