Rogue Creators: Dave and A Camera

*Welcome to the Rogue Creators Video Series, a limited series featuring various artists that inspire the Go Rogue Team. Throughout the episodes, which release bi-weekly, Bryan Fittin and Loren Lewis sit down with five of our team’s favorite artists to discuss their work, what inspires them, and how they stay creative. Join us every other Friday, now through July 8.*

Dave Abbott, owner and operator of Dave and a Camera, recently stopped by the studio to talk with Bryan Fittin and Loren Lewis about his career as a videographer and a few of his favorite videos he’s created. With Dave and a Camera, Dave specializes in wedding videography and commercial films, having worked with brands such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, and the NFL. Together, the trio dives into four different videos that Dave produced, his passion for honing his craft, and creating with a limited toolset.

Dave’s journey to becoming a filmmaker and videographer started with studying film at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and a summer job in video production at New Life Ranch, a summer camp near the university. He was tasked with producing one camp recap video every week for eight weeks, and the experience proved to be tremendous. He had a single camera with a 50mm lens, but his minimal equipment taught him how to create within limitations.

Following college, Dave moved to Los Angeles and got a job creating video content for a church. Here, he continued to gain experience maximizing his production with whatever equipment he was given. Throughout his experience at New Life Ranch and in Los Angeles, Dave learned a valuable lesson: It’s important to know your limitations and then create whatever you can within those limitations.

Looking back on his early days as a creative, Dave says, “It’s practice. It’s getting good at it. It’s creating content as much as you can to learn from your mistakes.” Ultimately, Dave encourages other creatives to master their craft, no matter their resources and limitations. After all, pro-level equipment won’t transform a novice into an expert, but practice and training will.

Dave has been working in the wedding industry for eight years, and he hopes to make it to ten, as very few wedding videographers stay in the industry for a decade. He specializes in destination weddings and has filmed ceremonies all across North America. Dave has also picked up more commercial work in the last few years, working with brands like Target, Sam’s Club, Walmart, the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles, and many more.

For this wedding film, I Feel God in This Chili’s Tonight, Dave flew to Colorado to shoot a beautiful cliffside wedding. Because of the pandemic, it was a small event with just twenty-five people, but Dave enjoys smaller weddings, as he can get to know everyone and feel like a part of the family.

As a wedding videographer, one of Dave’s biggest challenges is walking the line between getting to know the couple and staying professional in his role. It’s a tricky balancing act because one of Dave’s greatest strengths is befriending his clients and getting to know them, allowing him to create unique and personalized films highlighting each couple’s personalities. At the same time, he doesn’t want to intrude on their day and often has to keep everyone on schedule.

While this tightrope is challenging to navigate, Dave has proven himself to be one of the best in the business. He’s made great friends throughout the years whom he still keeps in touch with and stays with when he visits their hometown.

This wedding film, featuring former Miss America Savvy Shields, highlights another of Dave’s greatest strengths: storytelling. While you might assume that continually shooting weddings would become monotonous, Dave relies on storytelling to edit and create a video unique to each couple. According to Dave, “[Storytelling is] not only a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”

One of the biggest hurdles with storytelling is planning. If you don’t have a plan for what you want to shoot going into the event, you’ll struggle to capture everything you need to tell the story in full. Similarly, if you didn’t capture everything you need, you’ll struggle to piece together the story while editing. It’s not only a process to figure out the best way to shoot the event, but you must understand how editing can also aid in storytelling. Shooting footage isn’t the only thing you need to master—editing is equally important.

In 2019, Dave had a wedding scheduled in Italy, but when the event was canceled, he was left with enough flight credits for another trip across the pond. He immediately reached out to two of his friends, Bryan and Jason, about realizing their longtime dream of going to Iceland to create content, experiment with new shooting methods, and enjoy themselves.

This no-agenda trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the trio simply couldn’t pass it up. Going into the expedition, everyone agreed it was a perfect chance to create content for their personal brands, as it was rare for any of the three to be on a shoot where they might be the subject. It provided the space for each member of the trip to step out from behind the camera and get content that promoted themselves.

For Dave, the trip allowed him the time to try out new techniques and experiment with new shooting methods. He was able to take what he learned on his Iceland trip and apply it to his everyday work back home.

The last piece Loren, Bryan, and Dave discussed is a video Dave created for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas. As a former Big Brother himself, Dave is passionate about the program and its impact on young people’s lives. Being one of his early commercial clients, Dave cherished the opportunity to work with an organization that was important to him. This video highlights one Big/Little relationship from the program that had been together for quite some time. The pair have a special bond, and highlighting that was a priority for Dave.

The video was used for promotion as a part of a Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraiser, so Dave knew that he wanted to pull on viewers’ heartstrings. To create emotion within the film, Dave looked to highlight genuine moments that had an authentic feel. Given his strength in befriending and understanding his video’s subjects, this was an easy task for Dave. He says, “Helping to create genuine moments, even in commercial work, gives you a really authentic feel for a video.”

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