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What's involved in a typical video memoir?

Here's our standard process for a video memoir.

Phase 1

1. You decide what length of interview best suits your subject.
2. We pre-interview family members by phone (or email).
3. From this information we develop a specific and detailed list of pre-interview questions.
    We find with more specific questions, you get more interesting answers.
4. We send the question list to the subject, along with a preliminary image wish list and
    set a tentative interview date.
5. The subject answers the questions to the best of their ability and returns them to us.
    The interview date is confirmed. The subject and/or family members start collecting
    and identifying photos and other memorabilia.
6. Based on the answers we receive, we develop a tailored set of questions to best draw out
    the subject's stories and make best use of the allotted interview time. This document
    also allows us to prompt the subject for important stories that they might otherwise have
    forgotten.
7. The interview takes place and we collect your identified photos and other memorabilia.

Phase 2

1. We do a preliminary edit of the interview and send you a more specific wish list for images
    not already collected.
2. All images chosen for the final edit are scanned and retouched (if necessary).
3. Once the final edit - with all photos scanned and placed - is completed, we choose music to
    enhance the tone and mood of the particular story being told.
4. The DVD, case insert and opening screens are custom-designed.
5. Your copies are produced and delivered to you.



Other than photos, what types of images or other memorabilia can be used?

We use all sorts of memorabilia, such as old letters or postcards, newspaper clippings, pages
from a scrapbook, maps or brochures, a baby book or bracelet, a birth announcement, a christening gown, a soldier's insignia or uniform, medals, wedding invitations, diplomas,
report cards, paintings or other artwork, books - anything, really, that helps illustrate and
enhance the subject's story. We also incorporate portions of home audio tapes or movies,
if you can provide them in a digital or VHS format.



Could I produce a video memoir myself?

Yes, of course, depending on your time and expertise (or willingness to learn) and the
equipment you have access to. Though expertise and equipment are no small hurdles,
time is probably the hardest commodity to come by. And depending on the age and health
of your loved one, you may  have time limitations.

Most of our edited video memoirs take between 100 and 200 hours to produce. If you decide
you want to produce a video memoir yourself, but need some help getting started, we
provide consultation services.
We want to get video memoirs for both my parents.
Why can't we do them in one?


It would be nice to film a couple together, but there
are several problems with it.

1)  It doesn't allow the flexibility to edit the interview
to our level of quality. One person usually starts to answer
a question, but a partner often jumps in to interject or comment or continue the story. Wherever their voices overlap or clip each other limits both our ability to keep the good stuff and delete the extraneous, as well as the audience's ability to hear both parties. In the end, the editing would take more time and cost more money, and you'd have a less elegant finished product.

2)  It means the camera has to be pulled back to encompass both subjects so in case one
person talks while you're interviewing the other, you can always get them on camera when
they're talking.

3)  In addition, oftentimes there is one half of a couple who tends to talk more and one who
tends to talk less. When the more talkative one is around, the less frequent talker often
doesn't say much. It has been our experience that people tend to talk more freely about their
lives -- the good and the bad -- when they are just interacting with us, the interested
interviewer and the cameraman, than when anyone else in their family is present. Each of
your parents had a childhood and youth with dreams and fears and activities and schooling
and family relationships, in addition to jobs -- separate from their spouse. And even once
their lives connected, they both experienced marriage, parenthood, and everything else from their own perspective.
One of my parents has Parkinson's, and their
voice is no longer strong. Is it too late to do a
memoir project or Audio Keepsake with them?


Not necessarily. My Dad had a variant of Parkinson's
(Lewy Bodies with Dementia), and his voice had gotten
pretty bad. It would have been better to interview him
sooner, but we can still understand him without straining,
and he was still making sense. That's the main criteria. Also, people with voice issues often have voice exercises they can do to make their voices stronger for a short time. (My Dad did.) Energy is another help when it comes to voice. Often subjects really get into the idea of finally, finally telling their stories (even if they were reluctant at first), and it energizes them. One daughter told me that she hadn't seen her mother (who has Parkinson's and said her voice was not very good) so energized by anything since her mother had written a book some 25 years earlier. And she gave a GREAT interview.

If, though, it's too late to interview one of your parents because of illness or death, and
you'd like to get your other parent's story, then at least a portion of their spouse's story
gets told as well -- including how they met, their courtship and marriage, children, travel,
places they lived, retirement, and so on.
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