Every family is different: there are no formulas.
First conversation: we listen: what is the story that you want to tell? Does your mother has a fantastic tale of escape and starting anew in a foreign land? Or your father served in the military and saw action that the kids only see on video games.? Perhaps you want to interview both your parents and see that great chemistry between them (its always great fun when they have exactly the opposite memories of the same event!). Maybe your family has an annual family reunion and all your brothers and sisters want to talk about life in your home town from each of their perspectives (its amazing how people remember the same place differently). From this discussion we will form an outline of possible questions to be used on the interview.
First meeting we like to meet the people we will be interviewing, and if possible to do so in their home. That way we can introduce ourselves and begin to create a bond with your parent. And we can also scout out a possible location to shoot the interview. Its always preferable to shoot in their home; somewhere that is comfortable and intimate. From that meeting we will have a pretty good idea of what questions to ask, what stories to pursue And of course you may have favourite stories that you want them to tell: those shaggy dog stories that have become family mythology. Or the funny one about how your parents met. Whatever is: this is the chance to get them down for the record book!
Photos: we ask you to start collecting family photos, home movies, scrap books: anything that we can add to tell the tale. This is usually great fun for the family as you debate what to include, where the box of photos has disappeared to, who is in which photo, etc. All of the photos/home movies will be digitized and most will be used in the video. (you will receive ALL the photos that you give us on a DVD; a great archival medium).
Shoot days: we decide how many days of shooting to do. Usually this is one day, unless there is extensive travel or if many family members will be interviewed. A shoot day lasts around 8 hours from set up through the interview and wrap out. We might actually roll tape for 4 hours, taking breaks when needed. Again, this is not a talk-a-thon but an open ended conversation and it takes as long as your parent wants to talk. (Don't worry, we will be editing!) Of course as interviewers we will "prompt" the discussion with questions and follow ups so we don't go down too many side stories and keep the chronology moving forward.
Logistics: we need to schedule the shoot day and make the logistical arrangements. Our crew is usually no more than five people: camera, sound, lighting, production assistant and director /producer. We bring minimal lighting and camera gear. We are pretty demanding: after being in the business for so many years we only work with the best. All of our people are serious broadcast professionals with many years of experience. Even if it costs more: you get what you pay for. And your house will be safe: we really take great care when moving any furniture always asking for permission in advance.
Interview questions: shortly before the shoot we will send you a list of questions based on our visit and conversation. You are free to fill in the blanks add, subtract and advise on any of the topics. This will serve as the blueprint for the interview.
The shoot: its a conversation! No stress, no right or wrong everything and anything can be included. If people happen to walk in: no problem. We will keep rolling because any interaction with family or friends is great to capture.
The edit: this usually takes 4-6 weeks as we weave the interview into story chapters and then add your photos combined with archival material that we research. We will keep you informed of our progress and sometimes ask for additional photos to fill in gaps, or the name of a person in a photo.
Delivery: we give you the final product. A DVD with the interview broken into programmable chapters. This is usually 60 to 75 minutes with the photos digitized into a montage in a separate chapter. If we have done our work correctly, you will have more than a memory; it will be a living, breathing, smiling persona that will endure for generations. Our clients say that friends of the family, guests, even strangers are engaged in the tales and the personalities in ways they couldn't have imagined.
In 20 years, your children and THEIR families will be very glad you did this!