“I Have a Camcorder; I Can Do This Myself.” Or Not.

Grandpa telling story to his granddaughter

Written by David Simon

September 8, 2021

If you have a camcorder or a phone that shoots video, maybe it’s finally time to do what you’ve been meaning to do for a long time: Sit down with a parent or other relative and record their priceless stories for your kids and their kids to have and appreciate over time. Why pay someone else to do this when you already have everything you need?

I can think of at least five good reasons to consider:

1. Getting To It

Recording a relative’s personal history involves a commitment of time and energy that most of us find it hard to muster. The task can seem even more daunting if there are “issues” that could make the intra-family interview process delicate or testy. A comprehensive interview typically requires multiple sessions, which can add further complications. You probably have reasons of your own for postponing this project for so long already.

Or you can have us do it for you. We’ll reach out to the interview subject to introduce ourselves, explain the process, and schedule the interview sessions at the subject’s earliest convenience. Within a few days of the last session, we’ll provide a review copy of the video and make any requested edits. Soon after that, we’ll deliver the finished product in whatever format is most convenient for you and the subject.

2. Getting It Done Well

Interviewing anyone, let alone a family member, is hard to do well. Having an experienced and objective interviewer lead the process is likely to produce a more satisfying result all around. Live On’s team of interviewers includes a family counselor, attorney, author, and wilderness guide — all of whom have listened to lots of people’s stories! We view our role as being “active listeners,” and we stay in the background as much as possible, guiding the “flow” of the interview to be sure we cover all the ground needed in the time we have.

We hear the same two things from almost everyone we work with:

  • Interview subjects at the end of a 90-minute session: “There’s no way we’ve been talking for 90 minutes!”
  • Family members upon watching the interview video: “I heard stories I’d never heard before!”

3. Getting It Finished

It’s not uncommon for interview subjects to include a story or two that, upon further reflection, they wish they hadn’t told. Live On’s post-production team makes whatever audio/video edits are requested or needed, adds titles and framing, and works with the subject on any add-ons, such as a playful, Hollywood-style “trailer” or an e-book version with photos.

4. Having It in a Form You Can Use

Live On will send you the finished product as a movie, audiobook, and/or e-book — all delivered on a personalized USB drive or DVD, or in downloadable form. 

5. Making It a Win-Win Experience

For most subjects, recording their personal history is a hopeful and even joyful process. Positive effects include feeling pride in their accomplishments, righting old wrongs, accepting their mortality, finding and furthering a sense of serenity, and assessing how best to use the time they have left for the benefit of themselves, their family, and their community. The resulting video, audiobook, and/or e-book are keepsakes that families will cherish for many years, if not many generations.

* * *

So while you could do this yourself someday, you could also contact us and get the process going today. It will cost a lot more than doing it yourself, but it will get done well and soon, and you’ll be glad you didn’t wait any longer. We look forward to hearing from you!

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