Ok, I'm going to address your questions one by one.
1. It happened 3 years ago, is that ok?
A: Yes, the statute of limitations
in California on a claim for breach of contract is 4 years. Arguably, the breach is continuing as you have continued trying to work with him, so the clock probably hasn't started ticking yet on the statue of limitations. Regardless, the statute of limitations doesn't prevent you from suing him. It is an "affirmative defense
" which means he would have to raise it in court and prove that it is applicable.
2. Where do I file?
A: You are going to file the lawsuit in the Riverside County small claims
court. Generally, you are supposed to pick the court nearest the Vidoegrapher/Defendant's address. This link goes to the location of all the courts in Riverside: http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/address.shtml
3. Do I need a lawyer?
A: No, in fact no lawyers are allowed in small claims courts.
4. What do I file:
A: Follow this link to pull up the small claims court forms you need to file your lawsuit: http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp/civpackets/smallclaims.pdf
You will want to state that "I hired Defendant to film and produce a video of my wedding. The Defendant has failed to deliver the promised video. I paid the Defendant $4,000.00. I either want an order from the court that the Defendant has to perform and issue me the video (your option to put that in) or because cause the Defendant breached his contract and failed to perform, I want the return of the $4,000.00 I paid, plus pre-judgment interest"
5. Can I sue for the first $4,000.00 even though your received the first video.
A: Imagine you are at a restaurant and you order a steak well done. You get the steak, but it is raw, and you don't find out until you cut into it and take a bite. If the restaurant refused to cook the steak anymore for you, it wouldn't be fair to make you pay for the raw steak just because you took a bite. Your situation is the same. You paid for a finished and full video tape. He's given you something that you didn't ask for and isn't up to reasonable standards. Therefore, he is not entitled to keep the money.
6. Do I need to bring the emails?
A: Yes, because there was no written agreement you will need to show that the terms of your agreement were the video and slide show for $4,000.00. You will also need to show his acknowledgment that the video he gave you is not acceptable.
I thinking that covers everything. Let me know if you need further information.