Family History Research

Creating a Young Family Legacy DVD

For my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary in August, I worked with a professional to create a video documentary containing interviews with my folks and some of our historical family photos. The end result was far better than I ever imagined! I had DVDs made as Christmas gifts for all family members including each of the 10 great-grandchildren. I hope they will treasure this DVD and its memories as much as I do.

I have a fair amount of experience in conducting oral history interviews so I considered trying to do this on my own in order to save money, but I am glad that I did not. It turned out to be affordable, and the quality is far better than if I had tried going solo. I still composed the interview questions and conducted the interviews with my parents– first individually, and then as a couple (which I found lent humor to the remarks, since they didn’t always agree on an answer). But having a professional attend to the filming and production reduced my stress as well as the amount of time I had to dedicate to the project (since my siblings and I were busy planning an anniversary party.)

I met with Tommy Platek of TP Productions early in the year, to discuss a vision and a budget for the end product. I’m a genealogist and not always a realist. I realized that my scope of a complete family history was way too big for a 30- to 45-minute project, and Tommy helped me to see that. I decided to narrow in on my parents’ family memories, their marriage, work lives and raising children in South St. Paul. After all, we were doing this to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

We started by filming the interviews in early spring, based on a list of questions I developed in consultation with Tommy. Then I had to sort through mounds of family photos to choose the  best ones to go along with the stories my parents told. Those were scanned, labeled and uploaded to Dropbox.

It was a massive task to whittle down over two hours of interviews into a cohesive 40-minute story. TP Productions did that based on my recommendations, then added music, titles, transitions, sounds and special effects. He even included some of the “bloopers” I didn’t want to lose, at the end of the film. The end result is nothing short of spectacular, if you ask for my biased opinion. Showing the video at the anniversary party was a fun surprise. Our family even learned some things about our parents that we never knew before!

I highly recommend interviewing your family elders as soon as you can, while they are able to share their memories.

By Vicki Albu

Genealogist, historian, and writer.

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