If you’re a “story junkie,” there’s probably nothing you like better than hearing a great story, related by an enthusiastic storyteller. Getting access to captivating stories and storytellers is growing easier, due to the proliferation of live, storytelling events. In cities across the U.S. and around the world, regular folks are stepping onto stages, shedding inhibitions, and sharing personal stories on a wide variety of topics. One place live storytelling has been flourishing is in Tucson, Arizona, thanks to the efforts of Penelope Starr. Penelope founded Odyssey Storytelling over twelve years ago. She’s also the author of a soon-to-be-released book packed with valuable advice for folks who’d like to start storytelling series in their own towns. In this episode of The Legacy Video Lounge, personal historian and video biographer Steve Pender chats with Penelope about Odyssey Storytelling, the power of sharing personal stories, and her upcoming book.
In Episode 10 of The Legacy Video Lounge, video biographer and Family Legacy Video president Steve Pender describes one of the important first steps for any successful video biography – the preinterview. The preinterview is basically the “interview before the interview,” where a video biographer chats with a storyteller in an informal setting. A preinterview helps to break the ice and gives a personal historian a chance to learn the storyteller’s stories in advance of the on-camera interview. Armed with this information, the video biographer can craft questions designed to elicit specific stories. As you’ll hear, a preinterview provides other benefits as well. Here’s what Steve covers in this segment:
In Episode 9 of The Legacy Video Lounge, personal historian and video biographer Steve Pender of Family Legacy Video, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona takes the podcast on the road! During a recent drive from Tucson to a legacy video shoot in Santa Monica, California, Steve recorded a chat with his cameraman and lighting director Dan Crapsi and sound technician Chris Hall. Both Dan and Chris have decades of video and audio experience, working on commercial, news, corporate and legacy video projects. During their conversation, Steve, Dan, and Chris touch on a variety of aspects surrounding recording personal history interviews, from the technical to the creative, including shot composition, lighting, microphone selection and placement, and more.
In Episode 8 of The Legacy Video Lounge, personal historian and video biographer Steve Pender of Family Legacy Video, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona, talks about capturing the voices of your loved ones for posterity, in the form of audio-only oral legacies known as audio biographies. If you’re not crazy about appearing on-camera in a video biography, if you’d prefer a less-costly alternative to video, or if you prefer the spoken word, an audio biography could be right for you and your family. Steve shares his approach to creating an audio biography, as well as an audio biography excerpt. You’ll also learn about the audio gear Steve uses. In addition, Steve shares some sources for audio transfers – King Tet Productions, free audio editing software – Audacity, new and used equipment – B&H Photo/Video, and equipment rentals – BorrowLenses.com.
In Episode 7 of The Legacy Video Lounge, personal historian and video biographer Steve Pender of Family Legacy Video, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona shares his thoughts on who should save their life stories and why. Steve also touches on some of the benefits that a legacy video project brings to both families and storytellers. Steve begins with a reading from “Like A Library Burning,” by Scott Farnsworth and Peggy R. Hoyt. Steve then describes the following benefits that come with legacy video projects including: validation of a meaningful life, finally telling the full story, energizing mind and lifting spirits, and uncovering little-known or nearly forgotten stories. Steve also shares the results of three university studies that document benefits to storytellers and their families, especially young children.
How can legacy videos benefit your family storytellers and your families? In Episode 6 of The Legacy Video Lounge, host Steve Pender, of Family Legacy Video, Inc., explores this topic with David Lamb. David is a successful businessman who hired Family Legacy Video to produce two family video biographies. David explains what led him and his wife, artist Robbi Firestone, to pursue legacy video projects for David’s mother and Robbi’s father. He also touches on his expectations for the projects, and the ways the legacy video process – and the final results, were of value to both the storytellers and their families.
In Episode 5 of The Legacy Video Lounge, host Steve Pender, of Family Legacy Video, Inc., continues his chat with Kristin Delaplane, a personal historian who specializes in print memoirs. Kristin is the author of Storytelling: How to Write an Inspiring Memoir, Oral History, or Family Genealogy. During her conversation with Steve, Kristin describes the book’s contents and passes along some tips to budding memoir authors. She also reads an excerpt from another of her books, First to Die: The Tragic Loss of the SS Vestris.
In Episode 4 of The Legacy Video Lounge, host Steve Pender, personal historian, video biographer, Family Legacy Video president, welcomes his first guest to the lounge: Kristin Delaplane, author of Storytelling: How to Write an Inspiring Memoir, Oral History, or Family Genealogy, and First to Die: The Tragic Loss of the SS Vestris. While The Legacy Video Lounge is dedicated primarily to video biography, Kristin is a personal historian who works mostly on the print side of personal history. Ms. Delaplane comes from a writing family; her dad, Stanton Delaplane, was a Pulitzer Prize recipient and a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Kristin wrote for the Chronical as well for many years, and now she helps people capture their family or company stories through oral history interviews and historical and genealogy research, with the end result often being a carefully crafted narrative for a custom-bound book. Her clients have included notable American families and celebrities, including Best Actor Oscar winners and a Kennedy Center Honoree. Kristin’s business is Our American Stories LLC.
In Part 1 of a two-part interview, Kristin talks about her career, what drew her to personal history, the process she follows when creating a print memoir, the benefits of creating a memoir, as well as her new book.
In Episode 3 of The Legacy Video Lounge, video biographer and Family Legacy Video president Steve Pender answers the question: What’s a video biography – otherwise known as a legacy video?
According to Steve, a video biography or legacy video is a personal documentary, which can feature a variety of production styles, ranging from simple “talking head” presentations to full-blown documentaries featuring interviews and as many visuals and audio elements (like music and sound effects) as budgets allow.
What kinds of visuals can be used? Anything that can be shot on video or scanned and that helps to illustrate the subjects storytellers will talk about during their interviews – including still photos, newspaper/magazine clippings, diplomas, wedding announcements, plaques, trophies, medals, paintings, drawings, letters, keepsakes, souvenirs, childhood toys, and family videos (or films converted to video files).
Video biographies can include all the elements of the storyteller’s art – images, spoken word, music, sound, text on screen, graphics, like maps, etc.
It’s not enough to just capture stories, we want our families to want to come back and watch again and again. So we need a little entertainment value – which is fine as long as everything that’s included is in service of the story.
Steve has been creating videos that tell stories – first for corporate clients and now for individuals and families for over 38 years. So he knows how to apply the creativity and techniques that big budget productions use. There are certainly advantages to working with a professional video biographer, because there’s a good deal involved in properly planning and producing a legacy video.
But if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, especially if you’re just getting started: Tune in to the History Channel, or get your hands on some of Ken Burns documentaries. Watch them critically. See how interviews are staged, how music and sound effects are used, how photos and other visual materials are incorporated. Then, experiment with these techniques on your own. With some time and practice, you can use these same techniques to give your home-made video biographies a bigger budget look and feel. Contrast and compare a basic “talking head” treatment with a documentary-style video biography here.
If you have any questions or comments, please email them to Steve Pender at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember: Everyone has a story. Isn’t it time you told yours?
Professional personal historian and video biographer Steve Pender talks about the rising level of public awareness of the importance of preserving, celebrating, and sharing life stories. Steve describes personal experiences with people who have witnessed his presentations and touches on the TV shows “Who do you think you are?” “Finding Your Roots,” and “Our American Family.” Steve also talks about StoryCorps and Ancestry.com. He also shares the results of the American Legacy Survey, sponsored by the Allianz Life Insurance Company.