Several brides are furious after being burned by a Melbourne wedding videography business, Simplicity Films, which A Current Affair (ACA) discovered is owned and operated by a Year 12 student who is ‘in over his head’.
Two unhappy Simplicity Films clients, brides Amy and Teagan, told ACA they paid $1900 for a package that included 10 hours of shooting coverage, resulting in a 15-minute wedding film, 30-minute feature film, edited ceremony and speeches, and raw footage.
However, they were disappointed to only receive a five minute video of shaky footage, including when the bride walks down the isle, missing pivotal moments, random editing, poor audio quality, and heads being cut out of the frame during speeches.
‘The footage of me walking down the isle is so shaky and so disgusting,’ Teagan says in the segment. ‘He’s cut off my head, (and) my dad’s head. Most of it’s focussed on my bum. It’s horrible.’
Amy adds, ‘we have no first dance, no arrivals from our bridal party’. She says a child could have filmed her video, and her husband describes it as ‘found footage’ and likens it to the Blair Witch Project.
The brides have been contacted by around a dozen other brides who have had issues with Simplicity Films – including one woman who paid a 50 percent deposit of $400, cancelled in May and was promised a refund, but has yet to hear anything.
Amy says they have since ‘lost all contact’ with the owner of Simplicity Films, a boy named Ashley. ACA reporter, Tineka Everaardt, tracked down Ashley, staked him out and accosted him in his (parents’) drive way at home in Melbourne. Ashley claims to have launched his business when he was just 14 years old, and in a YouTube video he claims it is one of Melbourne’s top 15 videography businesses.
Ashley, whose last name isn’t provided, appears nervous but, rather than typical ACA behaviour of legging it from the cameras, he admits to being in serious trouble. He busy studying for Year 12, and it’s ‘definitely’ time to put the camera down. His dad is also helping him issue refunds.
Ashley isn’t just dealing with angry brides and VCE exams. ACA interviewed a former Simplicity Films videography sub-contractor, Georgia Spencer, who claims that Ashley lied about his age and he owes her around $1000. Another unnamed videographer also claims to be owed around $1000.
How did Ashley do it?
It appears Simplicity Films has operated as a legitimate business, delivering quality wedding videos which satisfied clients. And quite remarkably, the whole time a high school teenager was at the helm.
The business website, now taken down, is professional-looking and built using Squarespace. It has all the bells of whistles of a basic wedding videography/photography website, including a FAQ section and package details.
Along with ‘reviews’, there are numerous short wedding videos, with the last uploaded in May 2019. The videos are of a much higher standard that what was served to Amy and Teagan, with stable shooting, creative shots and angles, decent audio quality, a narrative, and so on.
Did Ashley make this film?
The short wedding videos appear genuine and shot by someone at Simplicity Films – not fake or ‘sourced’ from elsewhere. On Facebook, numerous clients have thanked Simplicity Films and Ashley for shooting beautiful videos of their wedding.
These details alone are enough to build potential client trust and persuade couples to book Simplicity Films.
ACA doesn’t explain why Teagan and Amy’s videos are so terrible compared with the other samples, but it’s reasonable to speculate that Ashley potentially outsourced the skilled labour required to create wedding videos. Or with end-of-year exams approaching, young Ashley’s priorities have shifted and he isn’t focussing on his videography business.
The website has a few minor alarm bells. There is no ABN listed and Inside Imaging could not locate an active ABN trading as Simplicity Films; there is no About Us section explaining who operates the business, or online reviews.
‘The videos I’ve seen are completely sub-standard,’ Marcus Theodore, who has over two decades videography experience and operates C2 films, told ACA.
‘You can buy Instagram likes, Facebook comments, but you can’t buy Google reviews, so if someone’s said, “I’ve been around for two to three years” and they have no reviews, you go, “hang on what’s going on”.’
Marcus said it’s worth asking for word of mouth reviews, ‘be very mindful, if someone’s really cheap, they’re really cheap for a reason’.
At the end of the day, despite the severity of ruining the wedding videography experience and taking clients from capable videographers, Ashley has done quite well to have made it this far.
The saga once again highlights how the barriers to entry have been removed from creating a photography or videography business. Anyone, including a child, is able to set up a sleek photography/videography website, manage social media channels, and land work.
Click here to check out the ACA segment.