Creatively Adventurous, Untemplated and You by Hello & Co. Cinema
As the wedding season begins, we do a feature interview of Phoebe Rutaquio of Hello & Co. Cinema. Phoebe came in highly recommended by her peers in an predominantly male industry of wedding videography. Upon meeting her, her unique perspectives were instantaneously apparent and we wanted to immediately feature her story. So, without further adieu here is Hello & Co. Cinema’s story as narrated by their original and creatively adventurous founder.
Phoebe, thanks for interviewing with us. Like all our interviews, we’re always curious about the beginning. Can you share your background and how you started in the industry?
Sure. I graduated with a Communication Arts degree from college at De La Salle University and so I have some formal background in production and videography. However, getting into video event productions especially weddings was never in my plans. At school, I was interested in production theories, storyboarding and transitions which I felt were lost during real time events. Creative freedom is left to your client and worse, shooting weekly weddings would, I thought, be routine and redundant.
I was wrong. My impressions immediately changed after quitting a marketing desk job, which was ironically the routine and redundant job I was bent on avoiding. And so while unemployed, I freelanced as a videographer and worked on a wedding shoot. It was a huge realization. In a nutshell, you don’t actually lose any of your creative freedom as I originally thought. Everything is just so compressed. In a full film production you get a few days to edit your video or even do retakes whereas in a wedding film you literally have a few hours and there are no second shots.
It was creative thrill at it’s finest and I loved it. Finally, I found the adventure I was looking for and I wanted to build upon my discovery. And so after freelancing and after learning, relearning and unlearning a lot of assumptions and new things, I launched Hello & Co. Cinema.
Amazing story — just curious, why Hello & Co. Cinema?
Actually, the studio used to be under my name but it was too complicated for couples and was hard to spell. So, I rebranded into something which is easy to recall and nothing is easier to recall than Hello. In the beginning, it was all me shooting, editing and managing daily business needs but when I decided to grow, I decided to change the name to Hello & Co. Cinema.
As you know, wedding videos are now a norm. So, do you have a signature shot and what should couples expect from a Hello & Co. Cinema shoot?
There’s a couple of things unique about us, but it’s much more than a SHOT. We believe we have a signature FEEL to our work. Style wise, we strongly favor handheld shots and film grain. They’re harder to do but provide the feel we want to narrate. Technique wise, we loathe fancy, pretentious elements and poses. Instead, we celebrate the authenticity and the idiosyncrasies of every moment we capture. This spans from the coming together story of the couple, the relationship with their families and their friends, the love we feel all around, and the uniqueness of the celebration itself.
In terms of expectations, couples should expect a completely UNTEMPLATED production from us. They should expect it to stand out from common cookie cutter wedding video formulas and more importantly, they should expect it to speak to them.
Can you expound on what untemplated means for Hello & Co?
If I were to define, UNTEMPLATED just means there is no formula or better yet, its a unique formula for every couple. It’s the healthy balance of candid surprises and direction. It’s really being able to master the skill of anticipation — when and where to point the camera, when and where is the best time to direct, or even when and what to ask in order to draw out actions and emotions that won’t surface otherwise. Basically, it’s the couple’s story with their unique personality as narrated by us with some music that results on the couple’s untemplated wedding video.
It’s actually very difficult. There are tons of variables always changing. Also, some weddings may seem the same. The same flow, the same location, and the same story sequence. For us though, that is what an untemplated style should solve. We should show what’s unique. It’s going back to what I didn’t like about weddings before, those are the things I love now. I love the challenge of not having a concrete solid plan, of not knowing what’s gonna happen next, of surprises, of reinventing every wedding video.
Overall, I love how our work is so close to the hearts of the couples we serve. These are people’s actual lives and that means everything to us.
Changing topics. Given all your work — are you still amazed with what you produce after watching every wedding?
Yes. Especially thinking of how we’ve grown and how our style, brand and identity have evolved. If you think about it, it’s really amazing how everything is put together. Also, I never take for granted how lucky I am to be in the center of it all. The wedding videography industry here in the Philippines is so advanced and I really appreciate all of it.
At the end of the day though, we’re most in awe with our client’s appreciation. Like really? You love it! I still can’t believe it sometimes.
Your videos show international shoots as well. Do you have a plan of making this a norm?
Yes definitely! It was a vision for me late last year (2015). A simple but a strongly driven aspiration. I researched and followed destination wedding videographers and I had ideas how to make it happen. I shared the idea to the team and they were super supportive and excited . It’s amazing how aspirations can drive things — you just want it so much that you’ll just gravitate towards it naturally.
So, when did you hit the international market?
We did our first international late 2015 at Melbourne, Australia. I was so ecstatic. The entire team was super ecstatic. The bride-to-be saw our work when she attended her sister’s wedding and immediately inquired about us. She was really impressed by our work and immediately asked to book us. It was such a blessing!
Did you have a memorable wedding shot?
They’re all memorable in their own way but I did a wedding recently in Auckland, New Zealand. It was memorable because the weddings there are definitely different — way simpler and more fast paced. We were only 2 in the team then and so it was definitely a challenging shoot for us. It’s one of those creative thrills.
Do you have a strict routine that you follow when covering a wedding?
Yes, we do. We’re always early and we always come prepared. We come in 6 hours before the ceremony and follow a basic workflow as those of other wedding suppliers (not just videographers or photographers). That’s what makes things flow smoothly throughout the day. Besides this, we make sure to dress well and for me personally, I don’t eat too much on the day but make up for it after same day edit.
There are ton of videographers now, how do you compete?
We are well aware of our competition and we compete by being contrarians. We look at what they are doing and run the opposite way. In any industry, it’s very easy to follow the herd but it’s the bold and unconventional that create their own market and truly innovate. So far, I believe our approach has been working. Our couple’s love our against the grain approach and we’ve been getting a lot of positive word of mouth.
For the most part, videographers are really designers and story tellers. Both of which require being creative. So, where do you think Hello & Co. Cinema’s creativity come from?
Our creativity comes from gratefulness. Being extra grateful for things around you makes you see them in a new light, a new perspective, a different angle. Carrying that attitude of appreciation helps a lot. I notice that this especially applies when I travel for a shoot. I am ten times more aware of my surroundings than I would be if the travel was purely for vacation only. In my head — since this is for a shoot, I’m always looking at things the way a cinematographer should, what to compose, what sceneries best to shoot, to put the couple in, etc. Other than that, we like to watch movies and other wedding films both local and abroad to take inspiration from.
Where is your dream wedding shoot location?
Santorini, Greece! Imagine the aerial shots!
How do you make the couple feel comfortable in front of the camera?
Prior to the wedding day, it’s important for me to meet the couple personally and get to know them personally. I’d like to know their story as a couple — how they met, what they like to do together, their quirks, their addictions, etc. It also helps me create a wedding video that’s unique to their story and one that they can truly call their own.
In front of the camera, we just let everything flow naturally. We talk to them on the camera, laugh with and at them, and at ourselves. We make sure they know that there’s no pressure to do anything they don’t want to do.
Do you have video you’re particularly proud fond of?
Oh my, it’s so hard to pick one! If I were to pick just one though then I’d go for Allen and Mariz’s wedding video. The wedding was just this year in Makati. I really loved working on this one because the music is so close to my heart. Hello! Justin Bieber! :)
Something so untypical to put in a wedding, but it fit so well. It also fit the couple’s personalities. The video really speaks to our untemplated style.
Last question — What is your vision for your studio in the next 5 years?
Next year, we want to do more destination weddings. International shoots are creative adventures for us. It brings out the best and obviously the further and more unfamiliar the location, like UAE and Europe *fingers crossed*, the better.
Beyond that, the overall vision is to expand the Hello & Co Cinema. This year we’ve opened up an extensive internship program for those who are interested and are seeking a future in videography. I love mentoring young creative minds and would love to expand this passion in the next five years.
Our vision is to go beyond wedding videos and create a community within the industry. These means opportunities for helping our clients realize their dream wedding. Watch out — there’s DEFINITELY lots of surprises coming soon!
Thank you Phoebe for this interview — we really appreciate and enjoyed it.