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Any suggestions on how to shoot a Greek Orthodox Baptism/Christening?

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Craig SeemanAny suggestions on how to shoot a Greek Orthodox Baptism/Christening?
by on May 10, 2005 at 4:27:23 pm

Any suggestions on how to shoot a Greek Orthodox Baptism/Christening?

Last year I was hired to shoot a Greek Orthodox wedding. The family just hired me to shoot a baptism/christening. The wedding was quite different from others I've done. There were two officents. My female assitant was not allowed on the alter. I'm wondering if anybody has experience shooting a Greek Orthdox baptism/christening along with post christening celebration. Yes, I've asked the family for a schedule but haven't gotten anything back.


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Douglas VillalbaRe: Any suggestions on how to shoot a Greek Orthodox Baptism/Christening?
by on May 10, 2005 at 4:49:42 pm

It a lot like the wedding,
they start at the main entrance of the church, they will spit at the devil and pray in greek so you won't understand a word.
Then they go to the altar and there will be a cantor (singer) they will dump the kid in the water cut some hairs off and cover the kid with oil. They will go around the altar just like the wedding.
It is long but easy to shoot. The party is just that. After all the water & oil they will take the kid to the back and bring them out with a white gown.
An yes women are not allowed back in the altar.
My youngest doughter's mom is greek and I was able to do the video myself. The parents are not up in the altar all the time.

Douglas Villalba
http://www.dvtvproductions.com
dvillalba@dvtvproductions.com


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Craig SeemanRe: Any suggestions on how to shoot a Greek Orthodox Baptism/Christening?
by on May 10, 2005 at 5:17:04 pm

[Douglas Villalba] "they start at the main entrance of the church, they will spit at the devil and pray in greek so you won't understand a word. "

Hmm, I thought the wedding was in Aramaic. Curious how you'd do audio? For the wedding I wireless lav mic'd the groom (as normal) and just used the shotgun for the "ambiant" audio. The cantor was VERY LOUD during the wedding and audio from shotgun sounded fine/clean since the cantor didn't go too far away.

I'm not sure the cantor or priest would like to wear a lav and I don't think there'll be any PA system.

Is it ok to position camera left or right flank of the priest or better to be front left or right and might that be considered an obstruction? Obviously I want a clear shot of the baby.

Thanks Douglas for any help/tips!



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Ken EhrhartRe: Any suggestions on how to shoot a Greek Orthodox Baptism/Christening?
by on May 11, 2005 at 3:03:53 pm

Craig...

I suggest you approach the baptism in the same way you approach a wedding. Same number of cameras, same audio considerations and prep. Mic the priest, he will be doing most of the talking. Mic the godparents (godfather lapel mic will work) and if they have a deacon or cantor mic them as well.

The baptism will begin in the back of the church, so you'll have to be mobile. The priest will say a series of prayers and ask the baby a series of questions. The Godparents will answer FOR THE BABY... replying occassionaly to the questions. Generally they face forward (into the church) for this, but at a certain point they may face away and lean over to prayer and then spit on the devil. It won't last long and can be shot from the same position you will be in for the rest of the opening prayers. Generally, the prayers last 5 or 6 minutes... can be shorter and much longer depending on the priest. Once the prayers are done, the baby... godparents and father will move into the church. You WILL have time to relocate with them. Depending on the restrictions at the church and the setup of the church, you can then get into your position. I always shoot events with three cameras, two upfront and one in the back. During the opening prayer the back camera can get shots of people watching. The front camera doesn't have much to do until the proceedings move inside.

The Greek Orthodox churches I've shot Baptism's at have been fairly liberal with where we can and cannot set up. It is true, that femaile shooters can not go into the actual alter area. Where that alter area IS, varies from church to church. If the parents don't get you information ahead of time, contact the church directly and explain you are a PROFESSIONAL videographers contracted to shoot the Baptism and you'd like to meet with them to discuss the event. If you act in a professional manner, they should too.

Once the participants move inside, the baby will have their clothes removed for the baptism. You need to get some shots of this, for sure. The priest may be saying prayers during this time or just filling up the baptism kettle, either way, you'll want to concentrate on the baby. Once the baptism starts, the godparents will have little or nothing else to say... the godfather will probably remove his jacket, so place the mic on his tie to avoid it getting ripped off. The godparents will have oil poured onto their hands and they then rub the baby down head to toe. Often the priest will have the godparents cup their hands and pour more oil into it so he can dip his finger in to actually baptise the baby. He will dunk the baby three times... he will use the oil to bless the babies feet, hands, head, heart etc. etc. etc. The priest will cut three pieces of hair... and the baby will usually be presented with a necklace of some sort (a gift from the godparents). The baby will be dressed, in an outfit that is often a present from the godparents, so you'll want to get some of that too. The baby then is given a spoonful of wine (three times)... and the priest will wrap things up. Sometimes the parents are invited up to hold the child at the end sometimes not. Total elapsed time can be as short ast 15 minutes and as long as 45 minutes... depends on the priest.

I know this is rather long... (sorry about that) but if you have any questions, feel free to contact me a Ken@summitvid.com. Happy to help if I can.


Ken Ehrhart
SUMMIT Productions





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Craig SeemanRe: Any suggestions on how to shoot a Greek Orthodox Baptism/Christening?
by on May 18, 2005 at 1:00:04 am

Thanks Ken and Douglas for your answers.

Client was lower budget so it was only 1 camera, wireless lav, shotgun. The parents hadn't told me anything because they honestly had no idea what to expect. It seems this event was a grandparents' wish.

At the Church, the Priest met with the parents and God parents and explained the whole thing from start to finish (and it was as Ken described).

Because of the movement involved and the church limitations on where the tripod could go, I shot most, but not all of it, handheld. I'm very experienced at steady hand held work so no problem there. Ken, what you didn't mention was the baby SCREAMING into the lav clipped to the God father's tie. The whole event actually took just over 50 minutes. The only thing I didn't see that you mention was the hair clipping and the wine. There was also a point when several of the young children in attendance circled the water container. The service consisted of three parts. The back of church event, the baptism which a candle lighting at a table to the side and then a confirmation at the alter. The cantor was very far to one side of the church. On tripod, I zoomed in to him while he sang.


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