Capturing Timeless Love with American Rose Films

American Rose Films, a husband-and-wife wedding filmmaking duo, captures the timeless essence of nostalgia and authenticity.

American Rose Films capturing wedding

Using a combination of digital and Super 8 film, partners Justin and Steph Ziebell (American Rose Films) travel the world creating one-of-a-kind wedding films that feel like your favorite home movies. Hear more from Justin on what sparked their interest in filmmaking, their essentials for authentic storytelling, and why they turn to Musicbed to provide the right music for their films.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Justin Ziebell: Our passion for storytelling has always been rooted in preserving memories & nostalgia. It can be traced back to our teenage years in the early 2000s. Steph wouldn’t have been seen without her trusty digicam, snapping photos of friends. On the other hand, I (Justin) would make films with friends and record my friends’ bands on a miniDV camcorder. This led both of us to seek careers in the arts, Steph went to MassArt College for photography where she shot her body of work on film. Her senior thesis project became a heartfelt dedication to preserving the essence of her childhood home. Meanwhile, I embarked on a journey through film school in Boston, gaining the skills to tell a story through cinema. I think our experiences and education have laid the groundwork for a collaborative artistic approach to telling our couples’ stories. 

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

We find motivation in each other, friends, family, stories, cinema, and photography. Our couples are our ultimate source of motivation and creativity, though. They drive us to create meaningful work, even if they don’t know it. Additionally, we’re proponents of being bored! Taking a break from the constant scrolling and content consumption allows our minds to wander, sparking creative ideas. 

What makes a story visually appealing? What role does music play in storytelling?

In terms of wedding films, we think the most visually appealing films come from natural moments where everyone is at ease and having a good time. A big thing for us is not making the day a production or about us but instead about the couple and the guests having a good (stress-free) time. When that is the case, it is reflected in the quality of the film. As for music, it acts like a score in our films. We use it to amplify the emotions of a moment without overshadowing it. 

What elements do you think are essential for crafting a compelling story?

A compelling story can consist of many different things, and in our films, we value the candid and unexpected moments the most. We feel these moments paired with the big moments, like toasts and vows, really help round out a story. We focus on anticipating moments and filming those unexpected, authentic moments makes a story truly special and unique to that particular couple. 

How important is music in your work?

Music is hugely important in our work, it serves as the backbone and often unsung hero of our films. It can transform a seemingly ordinary moment into something extraordinary, elevating the emotion of a scene. In our creative process, selecting the right music is pivotal and something we spend a lot of time on. For nearly a decade, Musicbed has helped us match the perfect songs to our films! The depth and quality of Musicbed’s collection have been invaluable to us and have helped elevate our films to a level otherwise unattainable without access to the quality of music we have. The relationship between our images and music is harmonious, they work in tandem to tell the best possible story we can. 

American Rose Films vintage portrait

What advice would you give other filmmakers/creators just starting their careers?

Firstly, immerse yourself in a world of inspiration. Visit museums, study painting, and don’t be overly concerned with following trends. Find your unique voice and vision by allowing different types of art to inspire you. Spend time in front of the camera as well. Getting comfortable in front of the camera will help you develop empathy for those you ask to be in front of your lens. Under-promise and over-deliver. Set realistic expectations and then strive to exceed them. This builds trust with your clients and will ensure that they are excited to tell people about you, the best type of marketing you can ask for! Always carry a camera with you. Capture everyday life in both photos and videos. Practice composition and playing with light. Invest in education! Learn from those who came before you. If you have a favorite wedding filmmaker, reach out to them and see if they offer mentorships. These types of investments have been invaluable. Finally, sign up for Musicbed! 

How do you balance pushing boundaries creatively and delivering what your client wants or audience wants to see?

We’re lucky that our clients trust our creative vision and allow us to push boundaries in a way that serves them. We’ve built that confidence by consistently creating films that reflect our couples’ authenticity. Our main focus is to always do right by our couples and create films that are timeless heirlooms for them and their families. Their satisfaction is what matters most to us. 

What is the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative?

Undoubtedly, the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative is by far the business side of things! When you’re running a small business, you end up wearing a lot of hats. You have to do a bit of everything, and staying organized is key. You have to manage the need for self-promotion like website upkeep and posting on social media, while wanting to focus on creating great work that speaks for itself.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

This is such a tough question! Every film we have the pleasure of creating for our couples is special in its own right. However, we particularly cherish any time we are lucky enough to be asked to film a wedding entirely on super 8mm and 16mm. The process of crafting wedding films with analog film is, without a doubt, our favorite type of work at the moment. The joy we get from documenting a wedding and crafting a story using only Kodak motion picture film is unparalleled. There’s an undeniable magic in the tangible and timeless aesthetic of weddings on film. The constraints and unique characteristics of shooting on analog not only add an artistic flair but also inspire additional creativity in us.

How do you search for music on Musicbed? What are some tips that you’d give other filmmakers to search on Musicbed?

Bottom to the top! We love searching for songs by utilizing the Advanced tab first, selecting the pace (BPM), if we want it to be in Major or Minor, and if it’s a steady track or has a build/climax. From there we’ll select instruments we may want it to include and attributes we want it to have. Additionally, we love following certain artists and using songs from throughout their collections. The new AI search feature where you can find similar tracks to any song in the world, is a total game changer and we are so excited to implement it into our workflow. 

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

We choose to utilize Musicbed in our work for several reasons! Firstly, it boasts a large and ever-increasing library of high-quality music. It’s real music by real artists. One thing that sets Musicbed apart is the diverse range of music, you can find the perfect track no matter the genre or mood you’re looking for. Additionally, Musicbed cares about its users! They are consistently adding more music and improving the site. The recent addition of the AI search feature is a prime example of Musicbed’s dedication to enhancing the user experience, which ultimately helps us produce the perfect film for our couples.

Explore an exclusive playlist of their favorite songs to use in his work—all available to license only on Musicbed.