Blog Archives

“I DO” at Tanque Verde Ranch:Let the Wedding Adventure begin!!

What I really love about Tanque Verde Ranch, besides the horses, mountain views and towering cottonwood trees with juvenile great horned owls nesting in them (yes, watch the video, second shot) is that you can make it your own. You can have a rustic, western themed wedding, or you can have an sleek, stylish affair with tons of glam. Or, you can aim for the middle of the two, and in true Annie Oakley style–Bull’s-eye!! This is exactly what Erica and Carson achieved this May at the ranch.

“Let the Adventure begin” proclaimed the card banner draped over the great fireplace in the Saguaro room, and that motto worked well for the whole weekend. This was a destination wedding, and family and friends were treated to horseback rides, hiking, golf outings and a few mandatory massages after all of the fabulous outdoor fun. The wedding day was sunny, then cloudy, and then…rainy! Which is really odd for mid May. Erica looked at the rain on the window, and became teary. I thought she was upset that their outdoor ceremony could be rained-out. Not the case. Erica’s Mom had passed away last year, and she LOVED the rain. Erica was sure that her Mom was there, in spirit and in rain drop form. We had a very sweet first look, a romantic, drizzly photo session and then a gorgeous outdoor ceremony at the Cactus View. The travel theme continued, as Carson and Erica had a sign post at the end of the aisle with exotic locales from Tongariro Park, New Zealand to Lake Como, Italy. My favorite part? THE VOWS…holy crow, these two went all out writing their own vows and their was not a dry eye in the house! My other favorite part? The fans that became paper airplanes that were flown above Erica and Carson as they recessed down the aisle–they even made sure the tips of the planes were blunt, so that no one lost an eye. #safetyfirst

The cocktail hour was full of signature cocktails, a giant postcard to take selfies in, and lots of yummy appetizers. The reception began with the introduction of the happy couple, lots of toasting, and then it was time for the first dance. It began slow and romantic, and then went into a salsa number with twirls and a great lift…everyone oohhhed and aaahhhed. The dance floor was packed, as was the cigar and bourbon bar out on the back patio. This #carsica #lovesnotcomplincated wedding at Tanque Verde ranch had this black sheep never wanting to leave this old homestead. No worries, we will be back. #fallweddings #styledshoots #tanqueverderanch #weloveithere

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Hacienda del Sol::a tale of two weddings-part 1

Talavera tile. Cafe lights. Blooming cacti. Events under an open southwestern sky. Hacienda del Sol has long been one of my favorite venues…every time I have the chance to film there, I see something new, find a new backdrop or a photogenic spot that I didn’t know existed. It’s quite a magical place, with rustic charm, incredible food and drink and gracious customer service. Built in 1929 as a “home away from home” boarding school for girls, it is a historic jewel. The likes of Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne and Clark Gable have all signed their names in the guest book. While Hacienda del Sol has added numerous amenities since 1929, it has never lost it’s southwestern flavor and understated elegance. I almost feel like I am walking into a sacred space when I enter the front archway. The grounds are lush and lovingly tended, and much of the original character remains. No wonder it is known by some as “The Soul of Tucson in the Heart of the Foothills.” I have had the privilege of seeing many hearts set aflutter at this utterly romantic inn throughout my years as a wedding filmmaker. In the next two weeks, I will post two of my most recent favorites to my blog; hence, a tale of two weddings.

Let me introduce you to Diana & Casey. Their wedding at Hacienda del Sol last October was beautiful, funky and full of song. Casey sings and plays a mean guitar. The entire day was filled with music, from the Sonoran Dogs playing during the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, to DJ Rahm from Satyr Entertainment emceeing, to Casey playing a song at the end of the evening. Even the first dance song “If I Needed You” by Townes Van Zandt was sung live by Joel and Ivy Ricci. The trumpet resonating through the courtyard was ahhhmazing!

The southwestern ambiance of Hacienda played a big part in the theme of this wedding. The watercolor inspired invitations featured the front gates, while Talavera cowboy boots graced the top of the wedding cake. The table numbers were black and white sketches of desert creatures, and Diana’s gown switch before the reception to an off shoulder, cotton, southwestern inspired gown and cowboy boots was the perfect touch. Just like the gentleman toasting the couple says, “Tonight, they are both winners”. So true. Thanks Diana & Casey for letting us share such an ahhmazing day with you and yours. Exceptional. Loved it….BRAVO!

AND Bravo to the following wedding rockstars:

Venue: Hacienda Del Sol

Venue Coordinator: Rachel Allen

Event Planner: Meagan Crain, MC Events

Photographer: Kelly Rashka

Filmmakers: Black Sheep Filmworks

Cake: Ambrosia

Florist: Atellier de LaFleur

DJ: Satyr Entertainment

Band: Sonoran Dogs

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Destination: Tucson

wedding donkeySaguaro...where else would I put your wedding rings?Oh, that Tucson Sun!patron bottle

Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased. I was born and raised in Tucson. I grew up swimming in our backyard pool from March through November. Flip flops, shorts and a sweatshirt (which I normally ditched by noon) were my cold weather outfit. Hiking to Seven Falls with a backpack full of my Humanities homework was my weekend hangout as I attended Salpointe Catholic High School.(GO LANCERS!) Many days were spent in the glorious sunshine on the U of A mall, writing scripts and honing my camera skills…and possibly checking out the Rugby team (BEAR DOWN ARIZONA!). Tucson is a very special place to me…it’s my hometown.

After graduation, I left Tucson. I couldn’t wait to leave. Bright lights, big city…LA, San Francisco, cable tv shows, studio services, feature films…it was fun. But it was hard. Feast or famine. So I came back. I couldn’t wait to get back. The mountains, the monsoons, the Mexican food, oh, and my family that I missed terribly. I met my hunky English hubby, started Black Sheep Filmworks, rescued an Australian Shepherd, a brown tabby cat and an Australian Cattle Dog. I also gave birth to two of the finest human beings you will ever meet, Alexa and Aidan. Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased.  Tucson is the place that chose me from the get-go. And the place I chose to call home when I had a choice.

YOU have a choice as well, where to hold your wedding. That most ahhhmazing day with your dearly beloved(s)….why choose Tucson for a Destination wedding?  Here are my top five reasons:

5. The Scenery. Search  “Tucson, Arizona”  in google images and you get choices: Mountains, Skyline, Sunset, Downtown and University of Arizona, all of which are spectacular, especially the mountains and the sunsets. All sunsets with high wispy clouds are pretty, but when you have a sunset with gorgeous color AND a huge saguaro in the background, that’s ICONIC.

4. The Venues. From The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain to the Arizona Inn to Hacienda del Sol, just to name a few, Tucson is full of  world class resorts, spas and inns that want to pamper you and your guests with loads of Tucson hospitality. The views, the food, the pools, the golf…just basking in the warm Tucson sun, it’s AHHHmazing!

3. Margaritas. From prickly pear to mango habañero, you won’t find a better specialty cocktail. Enough said.

2. The Wedding Professionals. Or the Wedding Vendors, or “Friendors” as my friend Brie Dumais of Brie Dumais Designs likes to call us;) Hands down, some of the most talented, creative, fun, hard working, kick a** individuals you will ever have the pleasure of being around. From florists to photographers, event planners to filmmakers (!) Tucson’s talent is extraordinary. And we all like each other. We will scramble up a hill loaded with cacti and maybe a gopher snake or two (don’t worry, they’re non-venomous ;)) to get that dream shot of you and your beloved. We are used to this 100+ degree “dry” heat. We don’t over direct and under produce. Golf carts, Quarter horses and dirt bikes were probably our first mode of transportation, or our most recent, so we’ve got you covered. We know Tucson, we love it, and we want to share it with you and your besties.

1. The Feel. No place in the world feels like Tucson. It’s a sprawling city (over 227 square miles!) in the middle of four mountain ranges under a huge sunny sky 350 days a year, but it still feels like a small town. When I meet a new client, somewhere in my portfolio, you will know someone. 6 degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon? It’s about 2 to 3 degrees of separation in Tucson.  From The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum to the Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson is full of natural beauty, wildlife, and history. And really nice people. Come to Tucson for your Big day, home of the best sunsets, warm sunshine, spas, saguaros…oh, I could go on and on. Okay, maybe I’m a little biased…

Want to see a destination:Tucson wedding in all its glory? Alison and Jelani, otherwise known as ALizona and Uncle Jeli ;), brought everyone out from Houston and beyond for an incredible wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. From some gorgeous royal blue Badgley Mischkas, to lobster mac n’ cheese, to sparklers, to some truly epic dance moves, THIS was a night to remember!
Thanks Alison & Jelani…and ENJOY!!!


Many thanks to the following wedding rockstars:
Venue: The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain  Event Coordinator: Madison St.Clair
Photographer: David Sanders  Filmmaker: Black Sheep Filmworks  Florist: Posh Petals  DJ/ Band/ Musicians: Simply Three & DJ Andrew  Photo booth:Clear Choice Photo Booth

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Should your wedding “go to the dogs”?

Canines, canines…everywhere! And I as the wedding filmmaker and loyal Australian Cattle Dog mama, LOVE IT! In  22 years of capturing my lovelies’ best days, some of the most resonant moments have come from my four legged friends. They have acted as ring dog, flower grrrl, bride’s pups etc… Dogs wear their hearts on their furry sleeves, and they keep it real.

Here are a few tips for making your wedding a happy day for you and your fur baby:

1. Make sure they have a handler that they are comfortable with, who knows the dog. This should not be the bride or groom.

2. Keep their time at the wedding short. They can walk or be carried down the aisle, and then be seated with said handler. Some dogs can handle being at the altar, but some will desperately try to get front and center with their pack. A whining, jumping, drooling pup can be quite a distraction, not to mention hell on tulle.

3. Tucson’s warmth can be difficult for non-desert dogs. Our British Bulldog and bride’s grrrl, Savannah, was driven to Tucson (from New Jersey!) by her Mom (our bride Gretchen) because they knew she had to be “climate controlled” for her journey. Their wedding was at the gorgeous Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain in late December, and the weather was a sunny  and mild 70 degrees. Perfect for a dog that is known to overheat.

4.  Bring treats! Especially if you have a “food motivated” pup (and who doesn’t?!). This will also keep the begging and eating of non-canine approved foods to a minimum. Remember, those hors d’oeuvres will be very tasty, but can cause quite a bit of tummy upset in your dog. THAT is NOT something you want to deal with on your wedding night…

5. ETSY! Find a cute orange bow tie like Spike had at Gina and William’s INCREDIBLE Arizona Inn wedding.

Or contact your florist, and get a great pearl and flower ensemble like Savannah had at Gretchen and Eric’s Ritzy nuptials, courtesy of the AHHHmazing Colleen LaFleur (LaFleur Plantscapes +Fresh Flora).

Having a wedding with some spicy, latin flair? Well then, YES, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel can be carried down the aisle in a sombrero.spaniel in sombrero Be creative, have fun with it…just try on the wedding flair and make sure the sombrero fits at the rehearsal, leaving some time for adjustments before the “big day.”

6. If you have too big of a pack to bring, consider having them on your cake. As a cake topper! Tonya and Dan are the proud owners of too many to mention rescued dogs, including a Siberian Husky and a few pit bulls. They couldn’t bring them all, so they had cake toppers made of their pups. ALSO, one of the best uses of table numbers I have ever seen was at this uber incredible day at Reflections at the Buttes. Each table number had a photograph of a dog from a local shelter, and their name was your table. The best part? All of the dogs were waiting to be adopeted! I know at least a few dogs found homes that night.  As the Mom of a shelter dog and cat, I LOVE that idea.
dog cake toppersrescue dogs table numbers

7. Any dog who is nervous, a “nipper”,  doesn’t like a lot of people, kids etc…should probably not be at your wedding. He will be happier at home, with a sitter. He can watch your wedding film later. I’ll send dog treats along with the flash drives 😉

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98 Percent of Brides Regret this Choice after their Weddings

Re-printed from Huffington Post Weddings by Ariane Fisher

Not getting a wedding planner was my biggest regret. Nope, second biggest.
Like most brides, I looked forward to my wedding for 4 reasons:

• I was marrying a man better than I ever could have dreamed for myself
• The Big Day was a creative outlet for my DIY dreams
• Friends and Family were coming together from all across the country
• Biggest. Party. Ever.

After the wedding, here is what I had to show for it:

• Gorgeous photos
• A preserved wedding gown
• Stories from friends and family about it being the best party, not just wedding, they had ever attended

Cue the regret. Like most brides, I budgeted for photos, but not wedding video. Like 98 percent of brides who make that decision, I regretted not getting a wedding video.

The photos bring back great memories, but let’s talk first dance. My fiancé surprised me with dance lessons soon after we were engaged. We spent months with a choreographer learning our first dance. We were in our own world on that dance floor. It was like the whole world melted away as we waltzed to Louis Armstrong.
In my mind, we were going to dance it again every year on our anniversary. We would never forget the steps. Our first anniversary, I was away on a business trip. Our second anniversary was the due date of our first baby. By the third anniversary, the steps were long forgotten.

Now let’s talk family and friends. Big family. Lots of friends. About 200 people flying in from all over the country. The award goes to Australia. It was the last family gathering for both of our grandmothers. The last one. No one wants to think about it, but it’s real.

It was also one of the last times we were to see one of my husband’s good friends. He died just a couple of years later in a snowmobile accident. We partied with him til 1am that night. Good times.

Lastly, the party. Oh the party. The live bar band. The Jack Daniels, for which I took so much crap in my last post. Yes, I drank at my wedding. Yes, I drank a lot. So did all the guests. Except the kids. They were running around with straws up their noses. It was a blast. We all had a great time.

And photos just aren’t enough to hold on to years later.

Follow Ariane Fisher on Twitter:

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Falling for a Tubac wedding film

Black sheep filmworks had the amazing fortune to film this seriously gorgeous fall wedding in Tubac. While Laura and Kurt hail from the great plains and back east respectively, they chose to tie the knot at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa. Laura’s grandparents had retired to Tubac and Laura had many great memories of the sunny southwest. It just made sense to make more while celebrating with family and friends on a balmy October day. The chapel was candlelit, the vows left not a dry eye in the house and DJ Corbin Dooley kept the dance floor jumpin’! My favorite moments? Well, it’s hard to choose, but I would say the first look, the flower girls and ring bearer coming down the aisle and Kurt being lifted up on a chair “hora style” during “Shout”. Many great moments…please see Laura and Kurt’s wedding day preview to get a glimpse of a great wedding, a great party and a grand love.</p

Many thanks to the following wedding pros that made the day run smoothly, look lovely and well, just ROCK!
Ceremony Location: Tubac Golf Resort & Spa
Event Coordinator: Melissa Knight
Photographer: Kelly Rashka
Florist: Katie Treat/Posh Petals
Photo booth: O Booth by Omer

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Words of thanks from the black sheep (filmworks ;)

This fall has made me feel very grateful. I know it’s Thanksgiving and you are probably overly tired of hearing “What are you thankful for?” But wait…just one more, from your favorite black sheep filmmaker. I am grateful for the obvious things like my family, my health, my friends, my clients, my country, having a roof over my head, shoes on my feet and running water. All of the aforementioned bring so much to me, that I can’t quite comprehend my good luck.
I just returned from POSH, a retreat for female filmmakers in Scottsdale, Arizona. POSH was started three years ago by two friends of mine, Jennifer Moon of Northernlight Filmworks and Reagan Zuguelter of Studio Z films as a way to bring female filmmakers and photographers together for continuing education, networking and FUN. I have attended two POSH events, last year in Cancun and this year at the Valley Ho in Scottsdale. WOW! These uber talented ladies astounded me with their creativity, technical abilities and unabashed willingness to share all of the above. There were no “stupid” questions and the playing field was level. There were female filmmakers/photogs who were brand new to the video biz and those with 20 years of experience. We learned the “WHY” of lens choice, how to improve our branding and how to Glidecam like a ninja. We filmed with Amina and Joyce of Stillmotion, delved into corporate filmmaking AND learned to Glidecam with Cristina Valdivieso. Marketing and streamlining our work flow were deconstructed with skill and infectious energy by the amazing Meg Simone. Lens Pro to Go’s Meg Rodney brought tons of great lenses and other techie goodies for us to play with (she also sings a mean Bohemian Rhapsody karaoke style)….and that’s just a smattering of our “celebration of cinematography”;) We even did Yoga every morning! Each presentation was inspired and the round table discussions that followed left us with so many new ideas to bring our businesses and ourselves to the next level. We learned, hiked, shared and partied hard. It went by too fast. It made me realize what great female filmmaker friends I have and how lucky I am. The POSH experience made me grateful for all that I have and I that I can share. I have the best job and the best clients who become friends. I also have filmmaker and photog friends who inspire, challenge and LIKE me. After being in the wedding video/event filmmaking industry for 20+ years I still love what I do. Continuing educational retreats like POSH are a big part of that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the organizers, presenters and attendees.
Here’s a few pics from POSH 2012, and a link to their site for anyone who wants to join in the festivities for 2013. POSH
I’m also posting the video that I created (with the help of the amazing Yone Hauseman) for a contest to win a seat at POSH 2012. I won! Many thanks to all those that voted and supported me and beoucoup thanks to Don Pham of DP Slider, who sponsored the contest. Yes, every POSH needs a little black sheep…filmworks that is!
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Cheers!

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Reflections at the Buttes wedding preview-Brandy & Phil

So…Brandy and I have a lot in common. We both know and love Amelia and Aron Schmidt, she’s a collegiate swim coach at LSU, I love to watch competitive swimming and eating spicy cajun food and we both LOVE the Good Egg restaurant. She loves it because it’s her family business and it’s amazing. I love it because it has a special connection with my son Aidan. 11 + years ago we were having lunch at the Good Egg where I gave my husband a card with a really cute mama and baby polar bear. Yes, I was telling him that we were pregnant for the second time. He should have guessed as I only ordered decaf coffee, which is normally not my style. Nine months later, I was having breakfast at the Good Egg with my mom, and I started having contractions. Cut to TMC and later that day we were blessed with Aidan James Keith. I had no idea that Brandy’s family owned the Good Egg, but when I suggested Starbucks as a meeting place, she suggested the Good Egg and I was very happy. After our meeting, during which I got to chat with her fiance Phil, her mom, dad and brother, she sent me home with pancakes and bacon for Aidan. All was right in the world.
Cut to April 27, 2011. This was a day unlike any other. From soccer to swimming, suspenders and bow ties, beer brewed by Brandy’s Dad, goggles and redcards (Phil is the soccer guru), to a surprise “Thriller” flash mob…ummm…WOW! Brandy was beautiful, Reflections at the Buttes looked grand, and Phil was simply the cutest groom ever. Family and friends were overjoyed by this union, and partied until the wee hours.
Many thanks to the Collins, Maben and Schmidt families. You treated us like family.
Thanks also to Neal Kreuser, and the staff at Reflections. We had a great time creating with you!
WARNING!!! VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED: Many cupcakes were harmed during the filming of the gorgeous love fest 😉
Music:Leslie and the Badgers
Old Timers (Edit)  Licensed through Song Freedom

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Spring has sprung–more of my favorite wedding moments!

This perfect spring day was one that I was really looking forward to. I had never met Heidi and Dave, but they were flying in from NYC to meet with little ol’ me and go over their wedding plans. The first thing that struck me about this pairing was, besides their obvious physical beauty, their CONNECTION. They were so in tune with each other about every little wedding detail, finishing each others sentences…you know…connected! I asked them what they were most looking forward to and Heidi got tears in her eyes as she said “Just to say ‘I do'”. Dave wiped her tears away and gently held her face in his hands. WOW! Now do you see why I was looking forward to it?

So my favorite moment was their “first look”. Normally, I don’t like the whole “first look” concept. I am a romantic, and one of the best moments from my wedding was hearing the string quartet, taking my dad’s arm, walking a few steps down the aisle and seeing my husband to be for the first time that day. His eyes welled up a bit, and then he smiled at me. I couldn’t wait to get to the end of that aisle! The drama of that moment still brings tears to my eyes. BUT, sometimes “first looks” are perfection. Heidi and Dave’s was the best one ever. It’s in the preview, so watch it. His reaction to her is priceless.

Lot’s of other favorite moments…shooting with the fantastic Jacob Chinn and his talented second shooter Holly Seeber. The floral design from Tanya Krantz of In Full Bloom Floral Studio was truly inspired. And of course, working with Cindy West at Tucson Country Club is a delight. And not just because they have a mesquite grove for lovely ceremonies, or just because you can have fireworks after your cake cut! No, it’s just such a warm and elegant venue. From witty groomsmen and charming bridesmaids, to a ceremony full of love and an enthusiastic hora, to heart-felt toasts and fireworks…I had lots of favorite moments. Heidi and Dave…thanks for choosing black sheep filmworks to film all of those fabulous moments!

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Hacienda del Sol-Moira & Sean’s preview

First wedding vendor picked was…Stepheny Keith of Black Sheep filmworks! Okay, maybe Hacienda del Sol was picked first because they had a venue when Moira and her mom, Mary, contacted me, but I was honored to be a close second.  Hacienda is one of my favorite Tucson venues, just the right blend of “Old West” elegance, there is no bad backdrop. We had a great time working with Courtney & Erin from…truly creative and low-key photographers from L.A.  The Creative Events team kicked this event into high-gear (do they have another gear?), and all went swimmingly.  Moira and Sean are gorgeous, wicked smart and savvy, and I think their preview does all of these qualities justice.   Thanks to Sean for picking such great music, and thanks to all for such a lovely and FUN day!

AND thank YOU for looking at the blog of the black sheep–stay tuned!

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