Joel Serrato (photo by Jose Villa)
I am a sucker for LOVE, I am in love with movement, moments, laughter, light and life!
I am so thankful that I found cinematography in the medium of super 8 film; it's something that I am extremely passionate about, and it’s my personal goal and inspiration to capture moments that will evoke the same feelings in someone else, as I feel when I am capturing them.
My films are not your typical two hour long wedding videos; I love to capture snippets of wedding celebrations in a fine art form using super 8 film. My technique creates an elegant, beautiful, nostalgic look that is truly one of a kind.
Where are you located?
I am located in Solvang CA, a little town modeled after Denmark where houses have wood shingle roofs and look like something out of a movie set ;) yes, my house also has wood shingles and I love it!
How did you get your start filming weddings?
I started filming weddings by total accident; I was practically thrown into the situation and from there on my passion developed for motion film. Suddenly, my passion for music and everything that has to do with editing now made total sense in my life, so I quit the corporate job and I decided to pursue filming weddings all on super 8 film only.
Did you have any formal training in filmmaking?
I am completely self taught, even the post editing portion on FCP, lots of trial and error before I finally made the connection with my approach to direction, filming, and editing my final films. I just focused on educating my clients on lighting and placing them in comfortable environments where they could be themselves, this I believe makes successful filmmaking always.
What’s your creative style or vision for wedding cinematography?
I truly believe that my "style" or "vision" really stems from simply shooting film. It’s as simple as that. I do not own a digital camera at all. Like every other filmmaker, my eye is unique. You can put 10 filmmakers in 1 room and if everyone films the same subject you will still have 10 very different results. I love light, so that is the first thing I search for always. And, I love simplistic backgrounds that make for timeless memories. Direction is definitely key in my approach to achieving great moments, simple subtle direction makes everyone loosen up and be themselves which is the best ever!
What role does film play in achieving that for you and what made you choose the super 8mm format?
I am extremely passionate about super 8 film, it's the reason I do what I do. I cannot see any other way, I feel like my clients really connect to it as well and from what they tell me it reminds them of their dreams and memories and that is exactly what I want to hear.
What do you think draws your clients?
Emotion definitely draws my clients to my film-work; I’ve been told that many times: "Joel's work with Super 8 film and vintage cameras produces a romantic and timeless quality that always gets our emotions flowing, but another thing he's amazing at is choosing the perfect music to narrate each couple's story."
How do they respond when they receive their final films?
My clients are the driving force to why I love filming weddings. They really appreciate what I do for them and how I capture and create memories for them for a lifetime. Making memories for my clients is my absolute goal with my approach to creating films in the first place. Without their emotions in my films I would have no business, at all.
Here is a recent comment that I have received:
“I don't know what to say - the film is the most important thing I own now along with our wedding pictures. The song is perfect - so perfect I literally don't know what to say - you must hear it all the time, but your work is incredible. Matt and I watched the short film multiple times last night and it made me really, really happy - the entire day came back to us and I’m extremely grateful you were there created these memories for us.”
Do you have a favorite stock to shoot with?
Favorite stock films: all negative, love the 200T VISION3 and 500T VISION3 and of course the Tri-X.
What postproduction path do you follow: What facility do you use for the transfer? Do you scan at HD or other resolution for the editing portion of your projects? On what system do you edit the films?
As far as development/editing goes I use Spectra Film and Video in Los Angeles, I wouldn't trust anyone else with such precious footage, they do an incredible job with all of my work! At the moment I prefer not to scan in HD, I feel this medium is unique and classic and I am just not ready to go that step with my work. Final Cut Pro is what I use to do my editing, the best program ever and so easy to use...
How has your work evolved over your career? Have advancements in technology - for example, film stocks, lenses, camera mounts, etc. - changed the way you shoot a project?
I shoot hand held always, I feel super 8 film gives such nostalgic freedom to where it doesn't have to be too perfect and I love my work that way. Super 8 film has helped me create a niche product in this digital world today and I am grateful for that, I’m an artist first and foremost and my clients choose my eye for that. Creating lifestyle films for my clients and capturing memories that will last a lifetime has created the most gratifying career for me.
More Super 8mm love!