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The Spark That Inspired Me

Lesson 2 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

The Spark That Inspired Me

Lesson 2 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

2. The Spark That Inspired Me


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

The Spark That Inspired Me

So, a little bit about me. (sighs) I am a storyteller, filmmaker, educator. I was highly active in the creative arts growing up, so, I wasn't as active with photography, necessarily. I was into music. I played the flute, I was singing all the time, I sang in choir, church choir growing up, and that was a huge, huge part of my life. I taught private lessons to music students when I was in high school. Then I went to college on a flute scholarship. So, I studied music performance and then music education and musical theater, and so, all of those things have been a huge, huge part of my life. Then, I went to Maine, working at a camp as a camp counselor for girls, and I was a drama counselor. I met my husband there, who is from Australia. And so, we fell in love, and I ended up moving over to Australia within a year. Didn't finish Uni, just packed up and left, and went with him. By the time I got to that point, I was really burnt out with music. I was kind of just... I don't know, it was s...

uch a big part of my life for so long, and I was just more interested in kinda moving towards normality and business, and I was like "Now I gotta make money", "I can't just live off my parents anymore." So I got a job in Sydney, doing administrative work. That's kind of where my love for business grew, during that period of time. I was singing in some bands in Sydney, as well, just on and off. And then, I fell pregnant with my first child. So, I had my son, and at the time, there was this thing called the Bonds Baby Competition. And you had to take cute pictures of your child in Bonds outfits, it's an Australian thing, and send it in, and if your child got picked, then, I think they got probably clothes or something. Anyway, so that's what started me, I was like, this camera, the point-and-shoot that I had to take these photos, wasn't good enough. And so, I needed something better. So I borrowed my mother-in-law's DSLR and used that. I didn't win the competition, by the way. (audience laughs) But it's kind of what started the love, for me. And it was perfect, it was perfect timing, I needed a creative outlet, so I got really obsessed with documenting his curiosity. That's the thing that I love the most about him, and it really shows in his pictures, just his curiosity about life, exploring things, discovering things. I got really, really obsessed with everyday life photography. And so, I threw most of myself into doing that for a while. So that's kind of where the photography basics happened for me. That was in 2010. Along the way, such a typical thing, you're showing pictures of your children and then people see it, and they're like "Take pictures of my children!", and "Take pictures of my family!". And so, that's sort of where the business side of it started. That was kind of in-between the two kids. I had my second, well, I fell pregnant with her, and during that pregnancy, I was really, really sick. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a condition during pregnancy where it's a constant nausea and vomiting. I had it with Cooper but it wasn't as bad, it was severe with her. I became really isolated, I wasn't able to work, my business pretty much came to a halt. And I was really, really isolated. I lost a lot of friends because I wasn't able to go out, I wasn't able to leave the house. I pretty much just sat on a couch, with a bucket beside me, and with my two-year-old watching Playskool, most of the day. So that was my pregnancy with her. So, you can imagine after nine months of that, it's very hard to get through that unscathed. (laughs) Right? At the end of that, I had this mantra. I remember saying to myself all the time, which was "If I can just get through this, I can be a good mom again." (voice breaks) If I can just have her and not be sick anymore, (sniffs) I can be a good mom again. And so-- I wasn't gonna cry. (audience laughs) So, once I had her, that wasn't the case. I had severe PMD, and now I was... I really, really struggled, through that period of time. And photography was my healing. That's what my therapy was. Around that same time, I had a Rebel, I was shooting on a Canon Rebel, that was the first camera that I had. T2. It had video. And my dad, being the filmmaker of the past, (laughs) was always pushing me to shoot video of the kids with that camera. And so, I started doing that, and I made a video of her, made this when she was a baby, baby. And started incorporating it into the very few client sessions I was able to do. What I was using at the time was Windows Movie Maker, and it was really limiting and I didn't enjoy it, and I was like "Oh, this isn't working." A few months later, I decided that, I was so obsessed with documenting everyday life and taking pictures of the two of them together, and showing their relationship. I wanted to document moments that would show them how much I loved them (voice breaks). Even though I wasn't able to show it outwardly, sometimes. So, that's why that whole period of my life was so, so crucial to my development and to what I do now. It all comes full-circle to what I do now. So, in-between the time that I made that very, very, very first video, which we won't be showing today (laughs). This next little bit, I purchased a 5D Mark 3. I was like, "This is what I wanna do, "I wanna do this for families, "I wanna do this more than just for myself." I was still really trying to figure out the video thing. And I knew that-- And I will say, I did a lot of creative live classes. (laughs) I think I did every creative live class on video, that I could find. They were mostly weddings, or, I think there was like a Corey Rich one, that was storytelling on location, I was like, "This is not applicable to me, at all, but I'll learn everything I can." I did several wedding ones, even just to learn Premiere Pro. So I did that, and then I was like, "OK, I'm gonna do this, "but the only way this is gonna work for me "is if I have a moment, a memory, "that motivates me to really sit down "and work with this footage and figure Premiere Pro out." I needed something that was so special, right? So, I was like, well, kitchen sink, bath, this is something I wanna remember, here's a memory of my daughter in the kitchen sink, that I want to remember. And so, I had no idea what I was doing, but I just flicked my camera over to video, tried to get a few different angles, 'cause I knew from, like, the storytelling side of my photography, that the more you move around, the more interesting story you can get. You know, getting in closer and pulling back, and all those things. So, you know, this, I knew nothing about filmmaking, and I just thought "I'm just gonna go for it." So I did. So I set her up, and these are a couple of photos. I took the footage and I pulled it into Premiere Pro, and I found the most beautiful song that I could possibly find. And I started editing the footage to it. And I was like, a complete sobbing mess. (audience laughs) The whole time. And I was just like, from that moment, this has to be something I make for other people. Has to be something I make for myself, but, more than that, other parents need to have this, too. And I think that also, at the time, I was sort of like, "There's all these weddings "in cinematography, you know? "All these wedding films out there, "and nobody does this for families." So, anyway, this is the video. (soft guitar music) ♪ I wake to find your hand in mine ♪ ♪ You must've fall asleep last night ♪ ♪ Just right the sunlight's dancing ♪ ♪ Through the blinds ♪ ♪ The day is waitin' on the line ♪ ♪ Just outside ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Will you always be my love? ♪ ♪ Will you always be my love? ♪ ♪ Now cars are passing ♪ ♪ Birds are laughing ♪ ♪ Trees are holding on the sky ♪ ♪ In the window ♪ ♪ Do they feel ♪ ♪ How to seen it grow ♪ ♪ If they've been watching us ♪ ♪ Do they know? ♪ ♪ Ohh know ♪ ♪ Will you always be my love? ♪ ♪ Will you always be ♪ ♪ My love? ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh ♪ It's hard for me to watch that now without crying. I've come a long way since then (laughs). I show those to say to you it doesn't matter where you're at, technically. Anything you make right now is gonna be priceless. It does not matter where you're at. So. Let's move past the teary part. (audience laughs) It's always the hardest part, and it's at the beginning, oh my gosh, OK. Since that first film of my daughter, I've made over 60 films for families or family-centered businesses. I've gone from booking a few photography sessions a month, to being booked out a year in advance for films. I've taught to over 500 photographers worldwide how to do this. I really felt called to, not just make this for families local to me, but also, to share this with-- 'Cause I just feel so strongly, we have these cameras that have this video capability, and there's so many-- As parents that are professional photographers, and you should be making these for your kids. So, I just felt so called to teach this to photographers. And so, that's what I do now. And I still make 'em for families. (laughs)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work