An audio visual recording has the distinct advantage of showcasing the storyteller — their voice, inflection, facial expressions, manner of dress and gestures.
Interviews are conducted via Zoom, removing geographical barriers to capturing your loved one’s story! In-person interviews can also be arranged.
If you are contemplating a life history video interview for yourself or a loved one, we begin with a free 30-minute exploratory phone call or Zoom meeting. This is when we will get acquainted, discuss your goals for the project, and see if we are a fit. Clients tell me that they are put at ease by my genuine interest, sense of purpose and easy engagement.
Research and Preparation
Upon receipt of the forms, I will begin research and prep for our first meeting. Preparation is key to the process and makes the difference between a pleasant conversation and a bonafide interview. It is important for me to get the context of what was going on around you in your world when your story was unfolding. My goal is to assimilate as much information as possible in advance, so that we can use your interview to unearth how you came to be who you really are!
The basic interview format consists of up to three hours of audio/visual interview time. Two 75- to 90-minute Zoom sessions are the standard and tend to bring out your best story.
During the interview itself, we begin with the basics, and morph into more textured territory as I help you to recall and reflect upon your memories from various life chapters. The questions are not “canned.” Throughout the process, I will continuously make judgement calls about where to probe and when to pivot, in order to tease out the most meaningful information. Areas covered may include your family history/ancestry, upbringing (childhood and formative years), education, work/career, romance and relationships, religious life, leisure/hobbies, and your reflections on life so far. I am sometimes asked to focus on a specific life chapter or event, such as an adoption story, a passion project, or training towards an important goal. Our conversations remain confidential, except as you wish to share them.
Interview Agreement and Biographical Information
Once you decide to move forward, I will ask you to complete two forms before our first session:
Interview Agreement Form: acknowledges that the interview will be recorded, establishes any boundaries (i.e, topics that are off limits) and outlines our understanding of how the interview is to be shared.
Biographical Information Form: provides me with fundamental biographical data such as family names, dates, places, education, occupation, military service, etc. You are encouraged to include any other information — articles, awards, speeches, toasts, artwork, research — that will help me get to know you and best prepare for our interview sessions.
We will arrange a 30-minute pre-interview Zoom visit so that I can see the space you are planning to use. It should be a quiet, uncluttered space with natural light facing you (you do not want to sit with you back to a bright window). As for attire, stick to solid colors, as loud prints can be distracting.
The original source recordings are merged into a single video with introductory title slides to identify your interview (i.e., Conversations with Jane Doe; June 15, 2021; Rochester, New York). Editing, if selected, is done at this time (see Video Interview Pricing). The final product is delivered to you as an “unlisted” Youtube link, for easy viewing and sharing, as well as a thumb drive with the video file itself for safekeeping.