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Video Biography – Why Are We Recording Memories?

I have been working on what I refer to as a long-format video biography. My client has hired me for a year to develop a personal history as well as to film significant events during the year. We’ve been doing this since November 2011 and so far we’ve shot four different events. A couple of the events, we’ve turned into short individual videos to send out to people who attended while other footage is waiting to fit into its bigger scope.

Sunday I was at my client’s Super Bowl party, filming family and friends enjoying the day together. I had a small crew although with myself, a cameraman, an audio technician and a grip, it’s difficult to not stand out like a sore thumb. We had my client and his wife with fixed microphones and filmed many of their interactions with other guests. It was fun, a kind of “a day in the life of” format.

I ran into a friend of mine who was a guest at the party. He was a bit baffled by our presence. He said, “why is he doing this?” I explained that he wanted to create a record of his family’s life for a year. He thought about it for a minute and said, “who is it for?” Now this friend of mine has known me for several years and I know he knows what I do in my work so it surprised me that he hadn’t really connected the dots. I told him that his friend (my client) was creating a record of his life and who he was at this given year in time. That this piece, and the interactions with friends and family we were there to capture, would explain to future generations of his family who he was, how he behaved and what he was interested in. A video “time capsule”. That rather than anecdotal stories passed down, great-grandchildren would actually experience some major family events, hearing his voice, seeing him laugh and showing how the family interacts. This is very different than parking a camera in front of someone and saying, “ok, tell me about your life.”

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