Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Latte Factor

How I feel:
Bob and I had such great video clips of our boys, but they were lost in a mess of footage where we forgot to shut the camera off, where we shot just way too long, etc. I really wanted it edited and presented in a way that anyone would enjoy watching.
When we were deciding if a video by Reflections of a Lifetime was something we wanted to do, we looked at it as our "Latte Factor"  My husband and I once figured out how much money together we spent per year getting our favorite drink, "chai latte" at Starbucks. It was upwards of $1000 dollars! I started getting my chai from a box at Safeway and that money now goes to the most wonderful videos that capture my children and my family.  All that tape would be sitting in a shoebox, pointless, had Kathleen not edited & put it together the way she did. 
My kids love to watch themselves. They dance to the music and they are amazed at seeing themselves.  It is a great day when they ask to see their "baby tape" and not Bob the Builder or Thomas the Train!

- Sara Grover, Mom of Jonah & Nate
(Click on Kathleen's picture to go to her website)

Young at Heart - are you among them?

Young at Heart
Movie Review

I'm no Siskel or Ebert but as someone who loves working with old folks, I really appreciated seeing the movie, Young at Heart which may or may not still be in the theaters at this point. It is the story of a 53-year-old taskmaster choral conductor who works with folks in their 70's, 80's and even 90's to sing songs from the younger generations' repertoire, including James Brown's I Feel Good...dududududududu. and Coldplay's Fix You, not to mention a song called Schizophrenia. They even take their show on the road.

The movie was so beautifully shot and edited I wanted to be on their crew, getting those interviews, recording their processes as they lived their lives FULL OUT. A real feel GOOD movie that made me want to live my life to the fullest. The movie also inspired me to shoot/edit other fascinating documentaries out in the big wide world! Know anyone who needs help?

Take your Mom and Pop or Grandma and Grandpa. It's sure to uplift and inspire!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Baby Boomers & The Business of Memory Article

Families want to preserve their life stories
Ilana DeBare, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, August 20, 2006

Business of Memory
Families want to preserve their life stories

As Baby Boomers grew, they sparked trends ranging from blue jeans to aerobics studios to minivans. This year, the first wave of America's 78 million Baby Boomers is turning 60. And as Boomers age, businesses are gearing up to meet their needs. One such industry consists of companies helping to preserve family memories. These stories highlight companies that produce personal histories, and ones that transfer old home movies and videos to DVDs.
David Rekart had been planning a photographic slide show for his father's 70th birthday. But he decided to go a step further and have a video documentary made about his father's life.
Rekart hired Oakland videographer Teri Duff, who shot three hours of interviews with his parents, then edited them down to a 45-minute biographical video. Rekart's dad saw the video at a family gathering celebrating the big birthday last summer.
"He sat there with his mouth open," recalled Rekart, 43, of Livermore. "He's kind of a man's man, and to watch a tough guy melt on the couch was kind of cool. And we heard stories we'd never heard in our life about us. We looked at each other and said, 'Really?' "
Duff's company -- Family Archive Films -- is part of a small but growing industry of documenting people's life stories. It includes companies like hers that create biographical videos as well as businesses that produce written histories of people's lives.
Nearly all of these are small outfits -- sole proprietors or companies with a handful of employees. They've been joined in the past year by several tech startups designed to use the Web to record and share people's life stories.
There are no reliable numbers on the size of the life-story industry. But experts say it has been growing steadily and could take off dramatically during the next decade as middle-aged Baby Boomers start thinking about their parents' and their own mortality.
"As Baby Boomers have started to get a little bit older, they've recognized that their parents are getting older," said Jeanne Archer, president of the 500-member Association of Personal Historians, which was created in 1995. "They want to preserve their stories. They're realizing they really need to start this process of getting memories down and preserved for their children."
"Personal historian" isn't as familiar a job title as nurse, plumber or software engineer. And personal historians come to their businesses from a variety of backgrounds. The field has no training programs or credentials. Practi-tioners range from former journalists, anthropologists and historians to homemakers who started recording their parents' stories and discovered they had a knack for it.
Teri Duff had a broadcasting degree and was doing video production for court cases in 1999 when she decided to videotape her 93-year-old grandmother's stories so her 3-year-old son could hear them someday. One day she was editing the footage when her son walked in, saw the images, and said "Nonno's talking to me."
"I went, 'Wow, he gets it,' " said Duff, who several years later decided to start her own business producing personal history videos.
Jurgen Mollers, who owns a personal history business called Storyzon in San Francisco, has a background of graduate studies in philosophy. He was working as a high-tech marketer when he ran across a company in his native Germany that wrote personal and organizational histories.
Mollers trained with them and opened Storyzon, which writes biographies, family histories, "legacy letters" in which clients share the lessons they have learned from life, and "culinary biographies" that mix family recipes with stories.
On a recent afternoon, Mollers interviewed San Franciscan Steve Talmadge about his childhood growing up as one of nine children of a Native American miner in rural Colorado.
"Here I am at 65, already a great-grandfather three times," Talmadge said, explaining his decision to commission a personal history. "It's important to me to leave something of a legacy about me and where I came from."
Mollers' hours of conversations with Talmadge were just the tip of the iceberg. For every hour of interviewing, Mollers does about 40 hours of back-end work -- overseeing transcription, editing, proofreading, graphic design and printing of a hard-bound book. Much of his time goes into sculpting rambling interviews into smooth-reading chapters.
Duff not only videotapes her subjects but also hunts down archival film footage to complement their stories. For the video of Rekart's father, she included film of the auto line at Ford Motor, where he worked as a young man, and the Gatlin gun that he helped produce at General Electric in the 1960s. All this work can lead to a high price tag. Rekart spent more than $3,000 for the video of his father. Talmadge is paying $15,000.
But satisfied family members say the price is worth it.
"I didn't know what to expect, since I'd never seen one of these things," said Rekart's father, Dick Rekart. "It came out absolutely wonderful. Today I'd like to ask my own dad some questions, and it's too late."
Some clients say that a professional interviewer can elicit more revealing and open responses than if they tried to do it themselves.
Berkeley resident Madeline Stanionis asked Duff to videotape her 81-year-old father, Bill, this month as he prepared to move out of his home of 42 years. Stanionis left the room to give them privacy, but at one point overheard her father talking about a time when he had two girlfriends -- something he had never mentioned to her.
"I thought, 'My dad had two girlfriends?' " Stanionis said. "I could have done an interview, but it would have been through my lens, with this lifetime of family mythology heaped on top of everything. And he would have always been in the role of my father in that conversation. There's something really neat about having someone outside the family do it."
For people unable to spend thousands of dollars on a customized history, several high-tech startups recently began offering low-cost, do-it-yourself Web alternatives.
OurStory is a Los Altos company funded by venture capitalists including Eric Benhamou and the Rockefeller family's Venrock Associates. It uses a question-and-answer format to help people write their life stories. Then -- in the style of social networking sites like -- it allows friends to comment on each other's stories. Still in beta version, OurStory is offering its basic service for free. It hopes to make money from a $39.95 premium version, advertising, and book-printing orders.
Web Biographies is a Denver startup that lets people write their life stories and store them on the company's Web site for annual fees of $25 to $85. For $1,000, users can dictate their story on a digital voice recorder and the company will transcribe it, add photos, and post it on the site.
"Books get lost, photos fade, and even CD-ROMs degrade," said Web Biographies founder Scott Purcell. "What we're doing with the Web is ensuring that what people write and their videos can be preserved and shared."
All these businesses, both the Web-based and personalized ones, face a significant marketing challenge in letting potential customers know their services exist.
"It's not an easy sell, since this is still a service that is largely unknown," Mollers said.
"It hasn't gotten to the tipping point yet where you have a certain number of people doing it and telling their friends," said Carolyn Alexander, owner of Family Memories Video, a San Francisco firm that produces video biographies.
These businesses are gambling on the assumption that millions of people have a driving need to tell their personal and family stories.
That may not be true for many of today's 70- and 80-year-olds. But with Baby Boomers -- who earned the moniker of the Me Generation in the 1970s, and who have helped fill the best-seller lists with memoirs of dysfunctional childhoods -- that's not a bad bet.
"People in their 70s and 80s aren't usually willing to pay for this, because they don't think that what they have to say is worth anything," said Alexander. "That generation is very humble. It's their children, the Baby Boomers, who talk them into it. Once the Baby Boomers get to be 70, it'll be a different thing. They will want to tell their story all over the place."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Recording Family Memories

Hello World!

Welcome to the wonderful world of recording family memories. There are so many ways to share memories about and with the people we love. I have always loved to write and that really was my first avenue - letters, stories, writing classes.  Then I discovered video in the mid-90's and realized that it offered whole new dimensions.  

Video captures the essence of a baby, a child, or an elder: the twinkle in the eye, the inflection of the voice and the mannerisms that are unique to the person.

So in 1995 I made the leap to video and have been preserving family memories ever since.  You could say I have a passion for it.  I have found my right livelihood.

To visit our website, just Click on my photograph!