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

Video Biography – Why Are We Recording Memories?

I have been working on what I refer to as a long-format video biography. My client has hired me for a year to develop a personal history as well as to film significant events during the year. We’ve been doing this since November 2011 and so far we’ve shot four different events. A couple of the events, we’ve turned into short individual videos to send out to people who attended while other footage is waiting to fit into its bigger scope.

Sunday I was at my client’s Super Bowl party, filming family and friends enjoying the day together. I had a small crew although with myself, a cameraman, an audio technician and a grip, it’s difficult to not stand out like a sore thumb. We had my client and his wife with fixed microphones and filmed many of their interactions with other guests. It was fun, a kind of “a day in the life of” format.

I ran into a friend of mine who was a guest at the party. He was a bit baffled by our presence. He said, “why is he doing this?” I explained that he wanted to create a record of his family’s life for a year. He thought about it for a minute and said, “who is it for?” Now this friend of mine has known me for several years and I know he knows what I do in my work so it surprised me that he hadn’t really connected the dots. I told him that his friend (my client) was creating a record of his life and who he was at this given year in time. That this piece, and the interactions with friends and family we were there to capture, would explain to future generations of his family who he was, how he behaved and what he was interested in. A video “time capsule”. That rather than anecdotal stories passed down, great-grandchildren would actually experience some major family events, hearing his voice, seeing him laugh and showing how the family interacts. This is very different than parking a camera in front of someone and saying, “ok, tell me about your life.”

At one point, I had my cleint sitting with his two brothers and reminiscing about childhood events such as when their father died. A funny memory came up, a time the older brother held the younger brother upside down over a toilet. The youngest said that to this day, the other guys who were there still profusely apologize to him when they run into him. There was a lot of really great moments captured during this filming and everyone had fun knowing they were creating this video moment.

I’m still not sure my friend truly grasped what was going on. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him further, but saw that he was wrestling with some of the usual conversations that pop up and that if I’d spent a bit more time talking with him, he would probably come to see the value in what his friend was doing.

It’s not unusual to think about how much it’s going to cost, how much time it’s going to take, and often, the question of who would want us to do this comes up. Some people are concerned with feeling egotistical in doing a video about themselves. I try to explain that this really isn’t about you, it’s about an investment in the future. What would you give to have a recording of your relatives who are no longer with you?

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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