While planning my wedding, I had a hard time finding an amazing videographer that I couldn't wait to hire. Unfortunately Weddings by Zara Creative came about right around the time I got married. Since then they have grown leaps and bounds and taken over the Detroit market, not only for wedding films (which are breathtaking), but also marking and commercial video too. Heather Zara, founder and CEO was kind enough to answer some questions about her role and the wedding video biz. This amazing girl boss has lots of great info to impart.
How did you get started in the wedding videography business?
My professional background was always in broadcasting - specifically, sports broadcasting - so, it’s kind of funny that I went from sports to weddings! I started my education in video production way back in high school; the media class that I took got me involved as a host, writer, editor and producer of the morning announcements and the football team later asked me to cut game day highlights for them. I got the itch and decided to major in Journalism with a focus on TV broadcasting as a student at Michigan State University. I had three television related internships, worked on two student television programs on campus and was a member of every production group I could find. After graduation, I immediately started reporting and anchoring for various TV stations and ended up back in Detroit where I was born and raised, and spent my time perfecting my craft as a storyteller in front of the camera. When I had the idea, to start Zara Creative and then Weddings by Zara Creative… I had just left my job as a reporter/anchor with the NBC TV station in Detroit and was reporting for the Detroit Pistons on Fox Sports Detroit. During that time, I saw a friend’s wedding film, that a company in NYC had produced - and I couldn’t believe that it was so journalistic and well shot. Before that moment, I thought wedding films were supposed to be these cheesy, long, drawn out productions that someone’s Uncle Joe could make. I couldn’t help but think, “I can do this!”. That’s kind of how it began!
We also work with corporate and commercial clients, but weddings are a huge part of our daily lives here at Zara Creative. In just over three years, we have worked with over 100 couples and we have even been able to create more opportunities for our destination wedding cinematography services. We love, love and working with super cool couples.
How would you describe the Weddings by Zara Creative style?
Given my background in journalism, storytelling is very important to me. I always tell my clients that our style combines journalistic and film techniques with a hint of ninja-like moves here and there! Ninja, you ask? We like to catch the moments that you had no idea we were even capturing - and that requires a ninja’s skill set. Those shots usually end up being my favorite to incorporate into a film because they are authentic.
What's the best thing about working in the wedding industry?
The best thing is that you are working with people that are getting ready to celebrate one of the happiest days in their life. They get to marry the love of their life in front of their closest family members and friends… and they invite you along to share their day with them. It’s really an honor. Especially for photographers or filmmakers like us - because we are the ones that are with the couple, the bridal party, the family and close friends ALL day and for most of the evening. We witness some of the most intimate and memorable moments in people’s lives - and that’s pretty cool when you think about it.
The worst? I don’t know if I have an answer to that - I’ve never worked with a bride-zilla before, so that rules that one out! Maybe that my crew has to work weekends? Sure, we’ll go with that.
Any advice for aspiring wedding videographers? entrepreneurs?
For wedding videographers, cinematographers and filmmakers… I would say perfect your film technique - shoot well - be artistic - capture natural sound - and learn how to effectively tell a story. All of these things will give you the polished look and feel that brides, grooms and viewers in general will appreciate. My biggest piece of advice is to become a pro at being able to capture the moments that people would really want to look back on. Don’t miss anything. The day only happens once.
For entrepreneurs - especially those in the wedding industry - my biggest piece of advice is to remember that you can’t do it all yourself. The best entrepreneurs recognize this one fact and they surround themselves with a team that can help them serve their clients to the best of their ability AND execute their vision. The truth is, I rarely even shoot or edit myself these days. I work on my business instead of in my business. I took the time to find great people to work with and I taught them how to be a master at our craft - and sometimes - they teach me. I have a team of skilled and talented cinematographers, editors, producers, writers, marketing pros and interns - and we get things done together. If you want to start a business, do it. But don’t plan on doing everything yourself for too long or you’ll burn yourself out, spread yourself too thin and limit yourself from growing instead of maximizing your efforts to serve even more awesome clients.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Every day is different for me - but typically - I start every morning pretty early in the day. I review our financials, analyze what I need to do to reach my business goals, check my calendar to prepare myself for the day, make my list of things to do and I visualize how I want the day to go. (Yes, I’m one of those people)
At Zara Creative, we work on a lot of corporate, commercial and non-profit projects as well, so I usually have at least 3-10 meetings every week with new or existing clients. I meet with bridal clients during the week as well - to limit my in-office work days on the weekends. At the office, my team already knows what projects they are working on - but I check in, make sure everything is getting done and I give guidance on video projects to each producer/editor as the project unfolds. Most of my day is spent on the business side of the business; growing it, managing it, delegating tasks, logistical coordination, scheduling shoots, talking with my accountant… the list goes on and on, of all of the stuff that has to get done, so that we can continue to make more films and videos for as many clients as possible. :)
What has been your favorite wedding or wedding moment to be part of?
That’s a tough one - because there are so many! Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to film one of my friend’s weddings in Cancun, Mexico. It was so special for me on many fronts; I got to witness a good friend marry an amazing man, it was our first chance to film an international destination wedding and I got to spend six days hanging out with a big group of some of my closest friends. I love capturing my friends weddings and I love travel - so this would probably be my favorite wedding to be a part of if I had to choose one.
In your opinion what makes a good wedding great?
I think that when couples add unique elements that truly reflect them and their relationship into their wedding day, they will have a great wedding. We’ve all been to a lot of weddings over the years - especially those of us in the wedding industry - so doing something that is a little different or personalized really makes it that much more special for the couple and their guests alike.
Any other advice for brides planning their wedding?
Advice for brides: Just make decisions based off of what you and your hubby-to-be want. It really is the biggest celebration the two of you will ever have, and it is a celebration that you are hosting to honor the lifelong commitment that you are making to each other. It should be everything that the two of you want it to be. Oh, and call Weddings by Zara Creative to film your big day, of course! ;-) Don’t worry if you aren’t based in the Detroit area... we’ll travel across the globe if we have to!
Thank you so much Heather for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out all of Zara Creative's amazing work here.