Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

A Triple Header Video Interview

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Over the holiday week between Christmas and New Year, my family spent a week skiing in Utah.
We stayed at the home of some good friends who live outside of Salt Lake City and another family from California was there as well. We have known the parents of these families for almost 25 years, way before our respective kids came along, so we have a lot of stories and shared experiences. This is the second ski vacation we have taken with this group and getting together once a year with our entire families is a great opportunity to see what each family is up to and get a take on where the kids are at. It’s a fun and warm time; spending the days on the slopes and the evenings cooking, visiting, watching movies, playing games and experiencing our version of an extended family holiday.

I had the opportunity to do video interviews with the three children of one of the families. Lauren, the eldest daughter is 16, Stephen is 13 and Kevin, the youngest, is 9. I created a little staging area in the dining room and setup the camera in there. I started with Kevin, who was reticent to talk without his father in the room. I asked his father if he would sit in the room but promise not to talk or visibly react to the interview process, to be as inconspicuous as possible. Kevin opened up immediately and was not at all shy in front of the camera. I engaged him in all kinds of discussion about his current life and what he hopes his life will be like in the future. He wants to work at Safeway and travel to Boston when he grows up. Why Boston? Because he’s never been there and thinks it sounds like a cool place to visit. In bursts of amazing self awareness for an 9 year old, he was able to see aspects of himself as others see him.He recognizes that he is a loud child, an opinion shared by the rest of his family, and that he can be a bit obsessive/compulsive when it comes to new things. I was quite impressed with his candor and came away with a new listening of him that I hadn’t had on starting the interview.

Stephen was next. When asked if he too wanted his father in the room he shrugged and said it didn’t matter to him. He seemed a bit nervous and after some debate, we agreed that his dad would remain in the room for this interview as well. The classic “middle child”, Stephen was non-commital about most things we discussed. He was very content with his life, well balanced and happy. Both his siblings drive him crazy but I got that he knew exactly how to push their buttons and did so with regular frequency. He lives entirely in the present. He had no plans for the future and no regrets about the past. Wow, would that I could bottle his little 13 year old wisdom or have him write another self-help book. He reminds me a lot of his dad who has always had an amazing balance about him and can be counted on for his neutral and objective perspective.

Lauren was last and having her father in the room was definitely NOT on the agenda. After escorting him out, we latched the door and began. At first she was a bit nervous but the camera and the “situation” soon slipped away and we were a couple of girls having a conversation. I had a harder time with that interview since her life-stage was all too familiar to me and I had to keep resisting the urge to give her advice. Close to graduating from high school, she isn’t sure what to do with her life yet understands how much weight is resting on the decision of picking a college and a future. She was a delightful girl to talk to and I ran out of questions and we just talked on camera for awhile.

I left the room understanding these children so much more than was available over dinner chat or observing their interactions with each other. I get that their answers were tailored for me although I felt that given the circumstances, all three were quite candid. Contrasting these interviews with ones done by their peers would be an interesting experiment. Interviews such as this provides us a slice of life as it exists in the here and now. Years from now, they will be able to watch these and perhaps understand a little bit better how they got to where they will be at that point and have a bit more supporting information beside memory.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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