Claudine in 2006. Judianne in 2009. Thousands of others—many of whom just as high-profile—have called on wedding videographer Jason Magbanua to capture the magic of their special day.
“The path to where I am now is very interesting,” says Jason Magbanua.
For years now, he has been widely recognized as simply the best wedding videographer in the industry. The clamor for his services are the stuff of urban legend, circulating amongst the newly-engaged. Couples who move their wedding date to accommodate his schedule. Reservations made years in advance. Even brides-to-be who book before the ring is on their finger.
Given his status in the industry, it may be hard to imagine him as anything besides the much sought-after craftsman he is today. But Jason is quite fond of his beginnings.
“I can distinctly tell you what I was doing before I became a videographer,” Jason says. “I was a teacher.”
After graduating from Ateneo de Manila with a degree in AB Communications, Jason briefly considered a career in the corporate field, before deciding to respond to a deeper calling instead. “I chose to get out of Manila to be a man for others, just as the Jesuits taught me,” he says. That led him to a teaching position in Sacred Heart College in Quezon Province where he taught video production, while also working as a part-time radio DJ on the side.
But for Jason, the fervor for his craft was always there. “I was always into video,” he recalls. “I immensely enjoyed doing school projects. More than what was normal for a student. I loved all of it, every bit of production.”
Then a friend approached Jason to help videotape someone’s wedding. “I enjoyed it and there was no looking back,” says Jason. In 2000, when his absences at school became more frequent due to wedding assignments, Jason made the choice to end his 5-year teaching career to pursue his real passion full time.
His first real foray into the wedding industry was rough. Though undoubtedly talented, Jason struggled to make a sale. He recalls commuting all through the city, meeting potential clients in their homes or cafes to show his work through a tiny 2-inch screen. “Just 1 out of 10 of those meetings would result to an actual paying assignment,” he shares. Jason describes this stage of his career as “difficult but necessary”. Now, looking back, Jason says the struggle truly makes him more appreciative of where he is today. “To sell an idea, I went through all that.”
Slowly but surely, the tide began to turn for Jason. With no background in business management or sales, Jason concentrated on honing his pitch—effectively communicating the value of his craft to potential clients. “I firmly believed that I had a beautiful, excellent product that no one else was offering at that time,” he says. He designed his first ads himself and took out full-page spots in the country’s top wedding magazines. He was also among the first to construct a website to show off his work and utilize email to communicate with clients. “Habang gumagaling ako sa pagvivideo gumagaling ako sa pagbebenta,” he explains. “I stood by my work until things slowly turned in my favor.”
When asked what got him through his rocky start, Jason gets candid. “It’s strange, ewan ko kung tamang motivation pero gusto kong sumikat sa ginagawa ko. I knew I had a great product. I wanted to be known, I wanted to be the best. I am fiercely competitive.”
Still, Jason is unfazed by the multitude of new players in his field. “I don’t mind the lower prices other people offer,” he says. “I focus on what I have. On what I can control.” And what he has, beyond the equipment and keen eye, is rapport. “The wedding videography business is not just about making a great wedding video. It’s not just about the product. I’ve learned that what I’m doing is about the experience of having me document their wedding. Upon first contact. Para sa couple ito parati.”
Asked what he sees on the horizon, Jason says he wants more time and autonomy to spend with family. “I have to learn not to place career and work above everything, because that’s not all that matters,” he says. “At the end of the day, you want to be a good partner and an even better dad.”
But retirement isn’t in the offing. In fact, he’s setting his sights on the emerging market. “I want to build a fan base among the younger crowd. In 3-5 years time, they’ll get married, they’ll be the decision makers of their industries. I want them to learn from me, remember me.”
Now well over a decade in the industry, Jason gradually went from struggling visionary to a public persona and opinion leader. He reflects on all that has changed since he started. “The style is different. Technique is different. The equipment is different,” he says. “But those are only tools…”
“It’s still up to the storyteller.”