Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 24: Talkin’ Legacy Videos with Steve Pender – Pt. 3.

family legacy video
Award-winning news reporter and magazine feature writer Elena Acoba continues her discussion with Family Legacy Video, Inc. president and award-winning legacy video producer Steve Pender.

In Part 3, the focus turns to the legacy video production process.

Questions Steve addresses in this segment include:

• How does someone hire Family Legacy Video, Inc.?
• Please provide an overview of the legacy video production process.
• How much does a legacy video cost?
• How long does it take from contract signing to delivery?
• What decisions does someone have to make before starting a legacy video project?
• How do you ease a reluctant storyteller’s concerns about appearing in a legacy video?
• How much control do a client and storyteller have over the finished legacy video?
• Does an interview have to be done all at one time?

Elena and Steve conclude their discussion about the legacy video production process in Part 4.

If you’d like to watch excerpts from a variety of legacy videos produced by Family Legacy Video®, you’ll find them here.

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Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 23: Talkin’ Legacy Videos with Steve Pender – Pt. 2.


In this episode, the second part of a four-part series, award-winning news reporter and magazine feature writer Elena Acoba continues her interview with Family Legacy Video, Inc. president and award-winning legacy video producer Steve Pender.

Questions Steve addresses in this segment include:

• What if my family doesn’t have a “fancy” story?
• I’d love to put my family’s story into the context of general history. Can that be done in a legacy video?
• What do I need for a legacy video?
• Do I need a specific topic for my legacy video?
• When did legacy videos become popular?
• Why do you create legacy videos?
• What’s your legacy video story, Steve?
• What do you like best about producing legacy videos?
• How many legacy videos has your company created?
• Does everyone have a story to tell?

If you’d like to watch excerpts from a variety of legacy videos produced by Family Legacy Video®, you’ll find them here.

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Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 22: Talkin’ Legacy Videos with Steve Pender – Pt. 1


Family Legacy Video, Inc. president and award-winning legacy video producer Steve Pender is usually the one behind the camera (or microphone) asking the questions. In this episode, the tables get turned as Steve takes the “hot seat” and is quizzed by guest interviewer Elena Acoba.

Elena is a long-time, awarding-winning news reporter and magazine feature writer. In her own writing and editing business, she has interviewed thousands of people to tell the stories of companies, organizations and individuals.

In this episode, Elena and Steve start off their chat by focusing on the following legacy video-related topics:

• What is a legacy video?
• Why would someone want to create a legacy video?
• Can I still make a legacy video if the subject of the story is no longer alive?
• If I can record an interview using my phone, why do I need to hire a professional?

If you’d like to watch excerpts from a variety of legacy videos produced by Family Legacy Video®, you’ll find them here.

Stay tuned – there’s more to come!

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Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 21: A story of love and war

The Legacy Video Lounge Podcast, Episode 21
Over the years podcast host, personal historian, video biographer, and Family Legacy Video president Steve Pender has spoken with lots of storytellers who’ve shared the stories of their WWII experiences, involving everything from combat overseas, stateside duty, and memories of life on the home front. In Episode 21, Steve shares the recollections of one couple, Dick and Mary-Lou. They met in college prior to the war, and then married shortly after it began. Luckily, the marriage far outlasted the global conflict. Even though this is an excerpt from a video biography, it also works fine as an audio-only piece.

Steve is often asked if he can interview multiple storytellers in one sitting, or only one at a time. Actually, it all depends on what works best for any given situation and group of storytellers. For the piece included in this episode, Steve interviewed Dick and Mary-Lou separately, asking them similar questions, and then editing the two interviews together to create an engaging story flow. But Steve has also interviewed groups of two, three, and more storytellers in one sitting. Some reasons to do that: if the storytellers are more comfortable in a group, the dynamics created will be more entertaining and interesting, and if the family is looking for more of a live, spontaneous feel.

Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 20: Life story legacies: True stories about sharing values & preserving wealth

The Legacy Video Lounge Podcast, Episode 20
The oldest members of the Baby Boom generation have started to retire. Because of that, the United States is now in the midst of the biggest transfer of wealth from one generation to another that the country has ever seen. But according to Barclays Wealth Insights, history has shown that 70% of family wealth fails to transfer to the third generation. One of the main causes of this failure is not preparing your heirs to appreciate and properly manage your estate; to be aware of the history behind it and to share in a family vision that will shape their stewardship of your family wealth moving forward.

In this episode, podcast host, personal historian, video biographer, and Family Legacy Video, Inc. president Steve Pender is joined by personal historian and author Stephanie Kadel Taras, Ph.D. They share some real life examples of how their high net worth clients used life story legacies, in both video and print formats, as communication tools to pass along their values and visions surrounding family wealth to the next generations of their families.

Stephanie is an author and personal historian. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She started her company, TimePieces Personal Biographies, in the year 2000. Stephanie works with clients who want to tell their own stories, hire a writer to work with family members, or document their organization’s history. Her 2013 memoir and social history of West Virginia, titled Mountain Girls, won a West Virginia Writers Book Award. Her 2008 history of Eckerd College won an Independent Publisher Book Award.

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Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 19: Four Quick Tips for Do-It-Yourselfers

The Legacy Video Lounge Podcast, Episode 19
In this episode, video biographer and Family Legacy Video, Inc. president Steve Pender offers some tips for folks who prefer to record their own family storytellers as opposed to hiring a professional video biography company like Family Legacy Video – perhaps because they can’t afford to hire a pro or maybe because they just prefer to do it themselves.

Tip #1: Steady as she goes.
• Mount your cell phone, DSLR, or video camera on a tripod. A shaky shot will distract viewers.
• Use a video tripod if possible.
• But – you can get away with using a camera designed for still cameras if you don’t move the camera.

Tip #2: Walk to the light!
• Use proper lighting to create a pleasing and flattering image.
• Google “Three Point Lighting” to learn more about it.

Tip #3: Shot composition: Stay close.
• Legacy videos are very intimate productions. If you frame your shot too wide, that intimacy is diminished.
• Try to go not much wider than someone’s waist.
• Vary the shot from waist high, to chest high, to shoulder high.
• Don’t go super close. That can be off-putting.

Tip #4: Use an external microphone.
• Don’t rely on your camera’s built-in microphone.
• Use a lapel mic. A consumer quality microphone is not expensive to purchase.
• A lapel mic will give you good sound, and sound quality won’t change if you move the camera closer or farther away.

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Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 18: The Cost of Legacy Videos

The Legacy Video Lounge Podcast, Episode 18
In this episode, video biographer and Family Legacy Video, Inc. president Steve Pender tackles the topic of pricing professional legacy videos.

LET’S PUT THINGS IN CONTEXT
Hour-long documentaries produced for outlets like the National Geographic and Discovery channels have budgets ranging from $125,000 on up. A single segment on 60 Minutes can cost $200,000. Family Legacy Video’s personal video biographies rival those network productions in quality and usually run longer than an hour – sometimes much longer. So even if a legacy video clocks in at $40,000, that’s a pretty good deal compared to what those broadcast and cable productions cost.

Not everybody can afford these prices, of course. But for those who can, it’s a great, great value.

SO WHAT AM I PAYING FOR?
Producers with years of expertise organizing and planning video biography projects. Skilled interviewers and seasoned and creative video editors. Experienced camera operators and lighting directors, audio technicians, and makeup artists devoted to making you look and sound your very best on screen. Family Legacy Video crew members are talented professionals who need to be compensated accordingly.

So people are on thing – gear is another. Professional cameras, lenses, lighting and audio equipment in our experienced hands yields fantastic results – but cost much more than consumer gear to purchase and maintain.

And then there’s travel. While Family Legacy Video is based in Tucson, a large chunk of our productions are shot outside Arizona. I’ve traveled to the east and west coasts, points between, even points beyond, like Hawaii. Travel incurs expenses like airfare, car rental, hotel rooms, meals, etc. It’s only fair to include these costs on top of the production expense – if not, Family Legacy Video could easily lose tons of money on each video. And yet, a lot of prospective clients seem to think this is somehow unfair, or they just want to save money by trying to find someone local to them, or they just don’t like the idea of paying for someone else’s travel expenses, as if our crew is taking a vacation at the client’s expense. Just to be clear, we travel as economically as possible, meaning we squeeze into coach airplane seats, we stay in moderately-priced hotels, and we don’t raid the mini-bars.

Finally, custom legacy videos are time-consuming efforts that can easily run into the hundreds of hours.

WRAPPING UP
It would be great if everyone could afford Family Legacy Video’s service – but the company needs to price productions at a level that compensates it fairly and allows it to stay in business. Whether you can afford to hire Family Legacy Video or you opt to go it yourself as a do-it-yourselfer, the key is not to wait – get started on your video biography now!

Rescue your old family albums – before it’s too late!

My first still photo camera was cheap. REAL cheap. Pretty close to being a toy camera, actually. I plucked it off a metal rack in a five-and-dime store sometime in the mid 1960s, when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old, and I’m sure I only shelled out a buck or two for it. Of course, that was big money to me back then! As far as I can remember, it was black plastic, with a fixed lens. It took rolls of film; no cartridges for this baby. Once loaded, I had to carefully turn the knob attached to the take up reel until the number for the next shot appeared in the center of the translucent red circle on the camera’s back. Then, it was just point and shoot until I used up 12 exposures – black and white, of course.

After dropping off the film at the local drugstore, it was nail-biting time; the anticipation building until I returned to the pharmacy, handed over my claim check, paid for the prints, and peeled open the top flap of the envelope to see if any of my snapshots had developed as hoped.

I actually fared pretty well with that little camera and wound up with a goodly number of photos worth saving. The next challenge became what to do with all those square prints with the white, serrated borders. The answer, put ’em in an album. Now, when I was a kid, I first stored my photos in albums with heavy paper pages – sliding each print into little white paper corners pasted to the page. Mounting pictures back then was a laborious process, and not much different from the way families had been storing their photographs since the late 1800s.

Your old family albums are treasures - preserve them!And it’s those old albums that can really pose problems. If you have one or more of them in your family, you know what I mean. The black or gray paper pages are far from archival and full of chemicals and acids that may have discolored the photos stored on them. By now, the pages are probably pretty brittle. The glue holding the photos or corners into place may have completely dried out and the pictures let loose.

I work with albums like these occasionally in my video biography work and I always handle them gingerly. Wearing cotton gloves, I slowly and carefully untie the thread holding the pages in place, and then tenderly convey the album, page by page, to a flat bed scanner, doing my best to prevent the edges of each leaf from flaking. I always breathe a sigh of relief after I’ve successfully reconstructed each precious book.

The problem is, the conditions of these old albums isn’t getting any better. What can you do to preserve your precious family images and protect them from the ravages of time?

The first step I suggest is that you digitize the photos. Several years ago, a client approached Family Legacy Video with three old family albums dating from the late 1800s through the end of WWII. He was hoping we could scan the pages and the photos and reconstruct the books somehow. Using a large format scanner, we scanned each page of the albums, including the front and back covers, as well as each photo (including any notes on the back of the photos), at high resolution. We used the scanned pages and covers to recreate the albums as printed books, and provided the client with all the digital files as well. He and his family were thrilled with the results. Now albums that had been sitting in a closet for years are in a form that can be enjoyed by all members of the client’s family.

Even though digitization is a wonderful thing, you still want to take steps to keep the original albums from degrading any further. According to Certified Archives Records Manager Melissa Barker, the best way to do this is to put a sheet of archival tissue paper between each page of the album. This creates a barrier between the photographs and the adjacent black paper pages; if photographs come off any remaining glue will not touch the other photographs on the adjacent page.

Store loose photos that have fallen out of the album in archival sleeves and keep them with the album. Place the entire album, along with the loose photos, in an archival box. The box should fit the album as snugly as possible. If you need to fill up some space to keep the album from shifting position, simply wad up some of the archival tissue paper and slip it between the album and the sides of the box. Store the box in a cool, dark, and dry place. Never store documents, photographs, or artifacts in an attic, basement, or where it is humid or there is direct sunlight.

Looking for a source for archival photo storage supplies? If your local photo store doesn’t carry them, you’ll find any number of outfits online.

These old family albums, and the images they contain, are wonderful keepsakes. Through a combination of digitization and careful storage, you can make sure your family photographic treasures are around for generations to come.

Toss the “stuff” – NOT the stories!

Save your family stories!Crash! “Now it’s garbage!”

Remember that scene in the “Odd Couple” movie, the one where Oscar smashes Felix’s plate of pasta against the kitchen wall? (Okay, the film WAS released in 1967, so you younger folks may need to Google it. Look for the spaghetti scene.)

Well, the same kind of thing is happening now with the possessions of our parents and grandparents. What do I mean?

Family keepsakes – and stories – are at risk.
I treasure my grandparents’ Atwater Kent radio and my great-grandfather’s meerschaum pipe. But I’m not sure who in my family will want these physical links to our past once I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. And, as pointed out in two recent articles by Richard Eisenberg (Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff & What You Said About ‘Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff’) this is a challenge facing many families today. With Baby Boomers downsizing and younger generations shunning lots of possessions, the things that used to be family keepsakes are being donated to Goodwill, placed in consignment shops, sold to antique stores, or just tossed in the garbage. That’s troubling, but there’s an even bigger issue here.

Losing connections to our family history.
What concerns me as a professional personal historian and video biographer is the continuing loss of something even more valuable than mementos and keepsakes: family stories. That’s because so many of the items being sent to landfills today have great family stories and associations attached to them. For instance, I treasure with my grandfather’s pocket watch. It’ll never cause an “Antiques Roadshow” appraiser’s eyes to light up with excitement, but every day when I see the old silver timepiece hanging in its display stand, I’m reminded of a man who I still love deeply, decades after his passing. It’s amazing how a simple item like this serves as a powerful touchstone to feelings and memories.

But I get it: Some families just have too many items that nobody wants to display or store. So how can you let go of this stuff without trashing your family history?

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.
My apologies to “The Godfather” for this analogy. But before tossing your parents’ keepsakes (the gun), save the stories and memories associated with them (the cannoli). How can you do this? Here are a few ideas:

• Video Inventory. Break out your video camera (or hire a professional) and gather your family and the possessions you’re planning to “eighty-six.” Shoot each item, describe what it is and share the memories and stories it evokes. With a little editing, the result will be a cool visual record to pass along to future generations.

• Slide Show. A variation on the video inventory theme. Shoot stills of each item and record your remembrances on audio, using a digital MP3 recorder. Combine the two to create a slide show video.

• Illustrated Photo Book. Transcribe the audio recording mentioned above. Produce a book featuring the photos and the transcribed text. The final product can range from simple (loose leaf pages in a binder) to elaborate (hard cover book with glossy pages) – it’ll all depend on your budget, wants, and needs.

Make sure your family stories survive.
You may not treasure the possessions your parents and grandparents accumulated, but don’t forget that the memories associated with these items speak directly to your family’s identity and values. Your grandkids and great-grandkids may one day feel disappointed that you consigned all this family stuff to a dumpster. But they will be grateful that you made sure the stories connected to these items survived.

Legacy Video Lounge Podcast – LVL 17: Life Stories & Legacy Planning

The Legacy Video Lounge Podcast, Episode 17
What does the idea of “leaving a legacy” mean to you? Some folks equate “legacy” with “inheritance,” thinking of it only in terms of the money and physical possessions they’ll leave to their loved ones. Others see passing along life stories and values as their true legacy. In this episode personal historian and Family Legacy Video® president Steve Pender introduces you to someone who has a foot in each of these camps. Jeff Knapp is an attorney specializing in Estate Planning. Jeff’s a lifelong New Jersey resident. He founded the Knapp Law Firm in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, hanging out his shingle in 1989. He’s one of four Estate Planning Law Specialists in the Garden State and he’s a member of both the New Jersey and Florida Bars. He’s also an Accredited Estate Planner, a Certified Financial Planner, a Certified Thinking Consultant, and holds a Post-Doctorate Masters in Wealth Strategies Planning.

He’s also a SunBridge Network Certified Legacy Advisor.

Jeff has been married for thirty years. He has four adult sons. One is currently in law school and a second just took his LSATs. So it looks like the Knapp Law Firm’s legacy may continue for another generation.

Steve first met Jeff during high school. They went their separate ways but reconnected a number of years ago after Jeff stumbled onto the Family Legacy Video® website. While Jeff is an expert in the nuts and bolts of estate planning, he’s also a big believer in incorporating life stories into the process. He kindly put down his snow shovel during a recent blizzard and spoke to Steve by phone from his home in New Jersey. The conversation touches on just what estate planning is all about and how Jeff uses stories to teach estate and legacy planning concepts to his clients as well as ways he encourages his clients to pass along life stories that speak to family values and identity.