Welcome to the January issue!
Happy New Year! I hope your holiday celebrations were joyous; I also hope you created lots of wonderful family memories, memories worth preserving on video. In the lead article this month, I provide a primer on video biographies and invite you to help me make 2012 the “Year of the Video Biography.” You’ll also get an update on a WWII veterans video project.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s e-Newsletter. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone toll-free (888.662.1294) with any questions or comments you have.
Cheers! – – Steve Pender
Video Biography 2012.
Back in 1998, I created a video documentary featuring my grandmother. At the time, I didn’t realize that what I called a “personal history video” would become known as a “video biography” and that folks such as myself would form a new class of professionals known as “personal historians.” I also could not have predicted that the effort would eventually lead me to form Family Legacy Video, Inc., a company that’s been at the leading edge of custom, high-end, personal video biography production since 2003. One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered since 2003 has involved educating potential clients like you as to just what a video biography (or what I like to call by the trademarked name: Family Legacy Video®) is – and how it can benefit you and your families. So I thought I’d start off the New Year with some basic information about the very valuable and personal service Family Legacy Video, Inc. provides.
What is a video biography?
Fantasy: Your phone rings. You answer it. And on the other end of the line is famed documentary producer Ken Burns. He says he’s been casting around for a subject for his next production and has decided to produce the story of your life. When can he set up an interview? He and his crew arrive at your home and videotape you while you reminisce about your life. They edit your interview and enhance it with your personal photos, family films and memorabilia. They also add music, sound effects, maps and other graphics. Your life story premieres on PBS to great acclaim.
Reality: It’s unlikely Ken Burns will be phoning any of us very soon. But thanks to Family Legacy Video®, you, your parents and/or grandparents can preserve, celebrate and share your life stories in videos with the same production value as the big budget productions Ken Burns produces for PBS. Video biographies are essentially personal history documentaries that can be as simple or as highly produced as you like, and that feature you or other family storytellers relating your life stories and values. Personal video biographies won’t appear on PBS, but they will be viewed and enjoyed by your families today and for generations to come. They are, truly, valuable legacies your families will treasure.
What is a typical video biography like?
Each Family Legacy Video® is a custom production, which means there’s no real “typical” video biography. But they all have some features in common. As mentioned above, the video biographies Family Legacy Video® produces feature individuals or families telling their personal and/or business stories. Depending on your needs/wants and budget, the interviews can be very lightly edited (or not edited at all) and simply transfered to a DVD, or they can be shaped into chapters that flow logically from one to the next. Visuals that illustrate the stories can be inserted to give the production more entertainment and informational value. Photos, family films, newspaper clippings, wedding invitations, birth announcements – basically anything that can be scanned or videotaped and that helps to visually support the stories being told can be used. Plus, you don’t have to be limited to only those items you and family can provide. Family Legacy Video® can research and obtain archival images that relate to your stories. We’ve rustled up images and film clips from World War II to Ellis Island immigrants to Edsel commercials for various clients. Maps, explanatory text, music and sound effects all contribute to the mix. Of course, the more complex and highly-produced the video, the higher the price.
The final videos are distributed on custom-printed DVDs. Depending on your budget, the DVDs can be packaged in plastic jewel cases or in custom-printed DVD cases, just like the ones that house your favorite movies on DVD. By the way, you have the choice of standard or Blu-ray DVDs. You can view selections from a variety of video biographies produced by Family Legacy Video® here.
What are the benefits of a Family Legacy Video®?
Imagine that your great or great-great grandparents had been able to videotape the stories of their lives. Not only would these videos provide you with a lot of amazing family history, but you’d get to see and hear your ancestors relate these stories. Instead of faded photos in an old family album, you’d get to know your great grandparents as living, breathing souls with a direct connection to you. The sound of their voices, their personalities – all of these things and more would be conveyed by their videos. Video, of course, didn’t exist in their days – but it’s here now. And when you create a personal video biography you gift current and future generations of your family with the legacy of your stories. You can believe that your future great and great-great grandchildren will thank you for it.
Video biographies help families reconnect, help stimulate seniors’ recall and provide validation of lives well-lived. They’re also a great way to pass along values and valuable lessons learned.
What’s the best way to start?
Family Legacy Video® can usher you through the entire process (and yes – it is a process that will require some time on your part). So the best way to get started is to give us a call or submit an inquiry through the website. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll probably want to get a copy of the Family Legacy Video Producer’s Guide and/or check out our webinar recordings. Whatever you do, the important thing is to get started now. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken with who regret missing the opportunity to record their parents or grandparents. So if you haven’t started already, make 2012 “The Year of the Video Biography” for you and your family.
— Steve Pender
Preserving WWII Vets’ Stories.
For the past couple of years, Family Legacy Video’s president, Steve Pender, has spearheaded an effort to record the stories of military veterans who are also members of his Rotary club, the Catalina Rotary Club of Tucson, Arizona. The initial stage of the project focused on WWII vets. Each vet and his family received copies of the videotaped interviews. The interviews were also posted on the Catalina Rotary Club Site. In addition, the interviews have been archived in Washington, D.C. as part of the Veterans History Project run by the Library of Congress. The project will now start collecting stories from the club’s post WWII veterans.