Jaired Sullivan’s Journey Through Wedding Filmmaking and Storytelling

Jaired Sullivan of Wayward North Films travels the United States to craft wedding films bursting with heartfelt storytelling and soul-stirring music.

Jaired Sullivan Filmmaker

Wedding and elopement videographer Jaired Sullivan (Wayward North Films) travels the United States to create wedding films with only one thing in common: heart. Hear more from the North Carolina-based filmmaker on what keeps him inspired, his advice to new and aspiring filmmakers, and how he utilizes Musicbed for the right music for his films.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Jaired Sullivan: My friends in high school would get together and film skits because we thought we were hilarious and wanted to be the next sensation on YouTube—essentially the next Adam Sandler. This is where I discovered my interest in creating films. I loved the way these films made people feel and made me feel. Through the next few years of waiting tables, attending community college, and figuring out life as we know it, one of my friends got engaged and asked me if I wanted to film his wedding. And the rest is pretty much history.

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

One way that I stay motivated and creatively inspired is by watching other filmmakers. I am constantly inspired by all the incredible artists and storytellers that grow and evolve in the wedding industry. It makes me want to keep pushing the creative needle and producing quality content. Watching YouTube, listening to podcasts, reading more, and learning from so many different creatives is a great way to grow. And sometimes when a lack of motivation rears its ugly head, I just use that time to decompress, take a step back, isolate myself away from work, and pour myself into other avenues in my life that bring me joy. Spending time with my little one, family, and friends, playing video games, and writing music. 

Jaired Sullivan filming with camera

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

When it comes to what makes a story visually appealing and the role of music in storytelling, it’s a combination of things for me. But location, interesting composition, good color, personality, and of course an inspiring sound all play a huge role in shaping the appeal. Music is the driving force of creative decision, inspiration, and the difference maker between a good film and a great one. It shapes, motivates, and progresses the story and is one of the most important if not the most important qualities of powerful storytelling. 

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

My top five would be music, character, conflict, composition, and color. Character and conflict are what I seek most in my films and with weddings, conflict can often be hard to find. So in that case, letting music guide me and strengthen the heartbeat behind the emotion of the story. Composition holds so much power as well, and how we can make people feel when they watch our films. Utilize the rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, negative space, and unique angles to express feelings and emotions from our characters. Color is another crucial element that can enhance emotion to create a compelling story. 

How important is music in your work?

Music tells the story. It is a vital element in my storytelling process. Music has redefined “the wedding film” as we know it and without it, I would probably be out of a job. If I am ever stuck on a film my go-to is to listen to music. I jump over to Musicbed, grab a few genres that feel like my couple and the type of story I am looking to create and by magic, inspiration arrives. It helps me visualize moments, emotions, scenes, and structures inside my head to demonstrate that within the empty timeline. Music is so powerful in not just the storytelling process but it’s a huge motivator when I feel unmotivated, connection when I feel disconnected, and inspires me to create something. 

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

To new wedding filmmakers: be quick to learn but slow to grow. Make mistakes and make them often. Second shoot A LOT. Community is much more valuable than competition, so leave the ego at the door and understand that the wedding film industry is a service-first industry. It’s not about you but how you impact others. Pay your taxes, and overpromise and over-deliver every single time.

Jaired Sullivan filming a married couple in front of mountainscape

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

You approach every wedding film with your couple’s heart in mind. Remember your why and don’t work to impress other filmmakers, but seek to inspire a family with intentional storytelling that is a timeless work of art. The irony is that you often produce your best, most creative, and most fulfilling work when you focus on others over yourself. Lean on who your couple/characters are, Focus on telling an honest story, and ditch the pipe dream of virality. It’s short-lived and leads to short-term fulfillment. Trends fade but families are forever. 

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

Living up to the unrealistic expectations I often set for myself like creating films that are unique, distinctive, and different than what others are creating. Or trying to be the best storyteller, colorist, filmmaker, seeking perfection in an industry that is beautifully imperfect and holds the most inspiration through an imperfect approach. But the most challenging aspect of filmmaking/ being creative is finding acceptance in your work that your work matters, your work means something, and most importantly that your art has value. We can be our own worst critics and often drown in a sea of comparison but accepting the simple truth that your work matters and is worth creating is one of the biggest hurdles to master.  

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

Gosh, I have so many couples who I just adore and so many films that will always be memorable. Some of my more recent faves are Liz and Cristian, Jaclyn and Joshua, and Madison and Bryan’s wedding films, which you can find on my YouTube channel!

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

My favorite genres on Musicbed include Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Ambient, Cinematic, Pop, and Indie. Whenever I feel stuck, usually any one of these genres gives me a song that can get me started. Once I have the start to my story, I look for a few more songs within the same key. This way I can create a seamless, organic feeling to my soundtrack as if each song was purposefully and intentionally composed for my film. I just posted a video about my three tips on finding the perfect music for wedding filmmakers.

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

Musicbed is the best platform for wedding filmmakers seeking to create films that inspire and powerfully capture the essence of your couple. No other platform has the collection and diversity that Musicbed has, and the platform has been my go-to for the last decade. Not just because of their vast selection but because of the simplicity and customizations available for filmmakers to find exactly what they are looking for. Dialing in your genre, mood, key, BPM, attributes, and style has never been more streamlined.

Explore a curated playlist of Jaired’s favorite songs to use in his films—all available to license only on Musicbed.