How much does it all cost?
This will always be determined by how much you have to say. Multiple interviews, lots of photos and home movies all add to the time and cost. Families who want to create a legacy video such as this but find it too expensive can make this a true family project by having all the members contribute a small portion of the cost. I’ll do everything I can to make your project cost-effective. Just remember, everybody’s story is different and there’s no “one size fits all” price. Get in touch with me via the Contact page and we can discuss the details of your project and give you a quote tailored to your story.
How long does it take to create a project like this?
It all depends on which project you choose. The shortest “basic” audio project be done in a couple hours. A video project will obviously take longer. If you are including family photos in your story, they will be scanned in your home on the day of the interview (time permitting). If you are adding your home movies to the project, we can refer you to vendors who will handle those transfers for you. If you want to add family members in other cities, that’s no problem. Travel expenses will be added to the cost of the project but must be paid before travel commences. Once we have all the materials in hand, we will begin to craft your story. If this project is intended to be a gift or is needed by a specific date, please plan well ahead to allow enough time to meet your deadline.
What if I’m camera-shy or hate how I look on camera?
I’ve spent my entire life on the other side of the camera so I understand your reluctance. I’ll try to make this as comfortable for you as possible. Always think of this as a conversation and not an interview. If you really don’t want to be on camera, consider doing an audio narration to go with your family photos or home movies. For example, we’ll scan your family photos or have your movies transferred to video. Then, we’ll record you commenting on each of the photos and put this narration into a video slideshow of the images. This is a great way to preserve the images and add valuable caption information for future generations. We’ll put the whole thing together on a DVD that you can play on your TV and share with your family. Contact us for a quote.
Do I have to do this interview alone?
Another great question, and a difficult one to answer. I usually like to do these interviews one-on-one so that you can tell your story your own way. However, we can still leave time at the end of the interview to include your spouse or partner. The only time this can backfire is when one spouse tends to dominate the conversation. A “quieter” spouse might not want to open up and talk candidly if they feel that they will be interrupted or “second guessed”. Since I don’t know your family or how they interact, I’ll depend on you to make this decision. Couples being interviewed can be fun as it shows how they interact. And, when memories are starting to fade, sometimes it helps to have someone else there to fill in the blanks.
What if I don’t know what to say?
That’s where the question list comes in. Even folks who think they don’t have much to say will always have stories to tell. Once I turn the camera on, you won’t need to look at it again. The conversation will begin, you’ll forget all about the camera and the stories will flow. You will receive a copy of our question list well in advance of the interview date so that you can gather your thoughts. The questions are designed to start a conversation and can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. When you get your copy of the questions, feel free to add or delete anything. Let’s make the questions fit your story.
My kids are after me to do this, but why should I?
Think of this as a time capsule for your family. All those old photos sitting in boxes without any names or identification are fading away. Your grandchildren may never know who the people are in those pictures. Your home movies are in even greater danger of fading away as projectors become scarce. Mold and mildew are slowly eating away at the delicate images. When I realized that I had no recordings of my parent’s voices, I knew I’d never hear them again. Their voices are gone forever because I waited too long to document their lives. I’m hoping that you won’t make the same mistake.
I didn’t have an interesting life, so why should I make this video?
Think about what it would mean to you if you could see and hear your parents again. My father grew up in North Carolina and had a distinct Appalachian accent. My mother came from the midwest and also had a unique sound to her voice. As the years go by, those little details will disappear….the old family stories will be lost, and memories will also begin to fade. Just imagine how much it will mean to your descendants to be able to listen to you as you describe your own life. Little stories about what your childhood and upbringing were like might not sound all that interesting to you, but think about how different your life was compared to kids growing up today. Those little stories will mean a lot to your family.
My family is scattered all over the country but I want to include them in my story.
This isn’t a problem. When we first discuss your project, we’ll look at all the possible ways of getting as many family members included as we can. Having everybody travel to one location for the interviews is one solution. Do you have a family reunion coming up or some other large family gathering? Let’s discuss the options and possibilities.
What type of equipment do you use?
All video is shot in High Definition (HD) using Sony high-def cameras. However, since most of our clients will be viewing their movie on DVDs, this footage will be converted to Standard Definition (SD) video. This means that your project will be viewable on any DVD player, computer or television. However, if you have a BluRay disk player and a high-def television set, we can put your movie on a BluRay disk and you will see your family photos and movies in spectacular HD video. For audio, we use extremely high quality microphones as well as a small lighting kit to make sure that you look and sound as good as possible. Finally, your life story is edited and is burned onto archival-quality DVD and BluRay discs.
Will I have to wear makeup?
As funny as it sounds, yes….maybe. Some people have naturally shiny skin and some don’t. I want you to be able to look at this video and NOT be staring at (1) how bad your hair looked, (2) how shiny your face was, or (3) how wrinkled your shirt or blouse was. You should think of this recording session the same as you would if you were having a photo portrait taken. Brush your hair, scrub your face a little and pick your nicest shirt or blouse and have fun. If you know somebody who is good at applying simple makeup to reduce shine, please know that it will make you look great on camera and I highly recommend it.
What if I don’t like how it turns out?
To keep this process as simple and cost-effective as possible, I do as little editing to your memories as possible. Apart from removing sneezes or coughs, I won’t be changing what you said during the interview. However, if you have second thoughts about something you said during the recordings, I can always remove it later. I will give you a “rough cut” of your video which is your chance to make whatever changes you’d like to make. I’ll apply those changes to your project and deliver the final version.
I have some old tapes. Can we use them in the film?
Absolutely! If you have cassette tapes, reel-to-reel recordings or any form of recorded family history, please let me know. These voices from the past can never be replaced and are vital to your family’s history. My mother used to send cassette tapes through the mail to her mother. Mom would record her message on one side of the tape, and my Grandmother would use the other side. They would then mail them back and forth in a practice known as “Living Letters”. I’d give anything to have those tapes now but they were usually taped over and over and are now long gone. If you have anything like this in your collection, let’s add it to your story.