“What’s the real story?” “How do you get the skeletons out of the closet?” “I want to know all the dirt.” I’ve had several discussions over the past few weeks on this topic and I think this is something important to weigh in on.
I view myself as a video biographer. My job is to tell a visual story. My client is usually the subject, the children of the subject(s), or someone who has hired me to tribute the subject. There is a story there, and my first job is to figure out what it is, and then tell it using video, music, photographs and voiceover, so that the viewing audience can understand it. The work I do is pretty specific in that my ultimate goal is to create knowledge, understanding and honor inside of a video biography created for future generations.
Does this include the dirt? Maybe. Sometimes people have to come to terms with dark and troubling things that have happened in their lives and feel free to talk about it. With other people, the wounds may still be too fresh and painful to discuss, and for some, they just want to spare their family the pain of hearing about these incidents.
A few years ago we worked with a holocaust survivor whose children had never directly heard her accounting of her story. Even though she was a guest lecturer in schools and organizations, she preferred to spare her children directly hearing the story. When we recorded her, her son-in-law sat in the room. He said this was the first time he had ever heard her speak about her experiences.