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

From The Video Honoree’s Perspective

I asked my friend, Vicki Samuels Levy to write me a brief perspective on her experience as a video honoree in one of my Legacy Multimedia productions. After all, I write a lot from my perspective; what I’m trying to do with the video, the feelings that I want my audience to experience. I usually get a nice note from my clients and they often agree to allow me to use it as a website testimonial. So I was thrilled when a few hours later, Vicki sent me two pages of writing from her experience. It really made my day, in fact my week, to hear what a positive experience making the video was for her and her family. You tell me what you think.

When the leadership at American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev approached our family in 2013 about honoring the three generations at our newspaper, the Jewish Herald-Voice, we were overwhelmingly flattered.

At the same time, we were relieved that a tribute video to our family would not be created. After all, we quietly get the paper out each week, and work overtime to create five annual magazines. However, something changed in AABGU’s planning process, and we were notified that we had to do a video for the gala dinner.

Grumbling under our breaths, we thought, “Really?!” After all, we’ve all seen tribute videos at fundraising dinners. They are lovely and everyone looks so polished. How could we meet those standards? Furthermore, with our weekly and multiple deadlines, we rarely have a chance to clean up the place. And, the best place to capture our essence is in our office.

We also wrestled with finding the time to think about what we would say. Ultimately, out of the five in our family being honored, four acquiesced to being interviewed. So, Stefani Twyford, working with AABGU’s Deborah Bergeron, and with our input, put together an outline of how the interviews would go.

I think Stefani Twyford had a monumental task – probably greater than any of her other projects. Not only did her crew have to schlep up (and down) a flight of stairs, but they had to set up their lighting and equipment, not two times, not three, but six times! So, one weekend, we cleared our desks, dusted, and straightened our collars.

I was the first to go under the lights. While I wasn’t nervous, I suddenly was at a loss for words for what this great honor meant to me and how important AABGU, especially its Cyber-Security Institute, was to the State of Israel, the Houston Jewish community, and really the world. The crew was so patient and laughed with me when I struggled for words. I couldn’t imagine that anything I said would be usable in the video.

After my debut, the crew moved to my mother’s office, then my nephew’s and my son’s, then to the conference room, where they filmed Deborah Bergeron and two leaders of AABGU. The crew had to adjust lighting and sound for each one.

The five hours of filming was remarkably distilled and expertly edited to nine minutes. Not only that, but the office clutter didn’t even show up!

We didn’t get to see the video before it aired at the gala. I understate when I say, Wow! How did they make us look and sound so good? I was so impressed with how Stefani wove the stories of AABGU, Ben-Gurion University and its new Cyber-Security Institute, and the part my parents played in the beginning of AABGU in Houston and how the Jewish Herald-Voice continues to play a vital role in informing the Jewish community about breakthroughs at BGU. (All in 9 minutes!) Rather than feeling embarrassed that we were on the big screen(s), I was drawn into the story that Stefani wove. Isn’t that amazing?

Besides feeling good about the video – Stefani did find something intelligent I said and I appeared in the video three times. We received so many compliments! The one I love the most came from one of our staff members, who has been with us for 13 years. He said, “I was watching the video and I thought to myself, ‘Who are these people? Are these the same people I work for?’ ”
That’s how good it was!
Thanks so much, Stefani, and to your staff. I’ve seen many videos you’ve produced at many dinners. Gotta say: I don’t know how you do it, but this is my favorite one!

– Vicki Samuels Levy, president, Jewish Herald-Voice

If you’d like to view the video, use this YouTube link and hopefully you’ll give it a thumbs up!

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian 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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