Tuesday, December 16, 2008

not Frost/not Nixon

Over on graphpaper, Christopher Fahey recommends taking some time to record an interview with your family:

For the last decade of her father’s life, my wife would interview him for an hour or more almost every time we visited her parents, videotaping each interview. For his funeral, she edited all the tapes into a single 45-minute movie where he tells stories from his incredible life. It’s hard to [overstate] how happy this video made a lot of people.

More and more people are collecting stories from their families and sharing them with their families and even the public. So this holiday season, why not kill two birds with one stone: video your family but in particular talk to them about what is important to you, trying to find out the historical roots of your own life and interests.
I love this idea, and I know that it’s never too soon to start. Have any of you done anything like this? Advice on how to start?

1 comment:

Jed said...

I always wanted to interview (and audio-record) my grandfather and grandmother. I decided maybe ten or twelve years ago that it was time to do this; I even bought a tape recorder for it. But I could never quite figure out how to broach the subject. Saying "Y'all are getting old, so I figure it's time to record you before you're gone" seemed somehow impolitic.

So I waited, and waited, and the time never seemed right. My grandfather died, but I still couldn't quite bring myself to interview my grandmother; even if she wouldn't have taken it amiss, I think it felt like an admission of her mortality to me, and I didn't want to think about that.

A few months before she died, I decided to finally ask her (without a tape recorder) for various stories about her youth. Even though she was still pretty mentally sharp, she didn't really seem to get what I was asking; or else she wasn't interested in telling those stories, or didn't remember them clearly.

So ... I think it's a great idea, and I strongly recommend doing it, and I wish that I had figured out a way to get around my own mental barriers and do this with my grandparents.

I like the video idea even more than the audio idea. It wouldn't have occurred to me, 'cause I still haven't gotten used to the easy-and-cheap-video revolution, but yeah, I think that kind of thing would be really cool.