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Family Matters – Our Story Our Legacy

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Working in the business of storytelling allows us to learn about a multitude of different businesses and lives. We believe that every one has a story. Yet in the process of helping people tell theirs, we could easily forget to tell our own. We could not continue to let time slip past us since capturing family legacies is a core value. Therefore, we decided to bring along a camera and microphone to our cross-country family gathering.

behind the scenes, filming, family, grandparents, seniors, legacy, interview, tea, coffee, garden, parents, laughing, talking, mic, boom pole, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy Productions

Grandparents’ Interview

Gathering the Family

Our priority interview was for the grandparents. We set up our equipment on the garden patio and brought out tea and cookies for the small table. If it weren’t for the whir of the neighbor’s lawn mower, it would have been a quintessential teatime chat. Still, the interview moved along easily as they told about growing up with very different backgrounds and their romantic first meeting. The intimate setting allowed for stories to be brought up that I had never heard before during previous family gatherings. Even though I have spent a considerable amount of time with them, after the interview I felt as though I knew them even more.

One afternoon while everyone was around, we set up for group interviews. All the siblings gathered and I only needed to prompt them with a few questions. Someone would answer with a story that would spark several new memories. It was fascinating to see how some events only one sibling could recall, while others were held dear by everyone.

behind the scenes, filming, family, siblings, cousins, grandkids, grandchildren, adults, legacy, memories, interview, garden, laughing, talking, camera, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy Productions

Interview with Grandchildren

Grandchildren also shared their favorite memories from massive meals to adventures with Pop Pop, and Nana’s piano. The in-laws who had married into the family also got a chance to share their hearts. One of the benefits of group interviews is that those family members with less to say still were able to participate without having pressure to perform. While several people were nervous to be on camera, they never said they regretted taking the step to share. I’ll take that as a good sign!

behind the scenes, filming, family, siblings, adults, legacy, memories, interview, garden, laughing, talking, mic, boom pole, camera, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy Productions

Interview with the Siblings

What I Found

Family interviews are not only a time to record go-to stories and histories, they are also a way to recognize the lessons you have learned. Gratefulness emerges as the good results of where we are today trace back to the roots of yesterday’s difficult decisions. We enjoy regaling with humorous anecdotes, but our “Story” is the over-all picture. If you had asked me our family story before the interviews I would have recited a general timeline of events. Now I would share a list of themes: the beauty of family, the bonds of love, and the power of grace.

I called this blog “Family Matters” because it illustrates so well the progression of recording our family legacy. It begins with telling stories of everyday adventures. The diverse ways they grew up, the complications of blending two families, and the crazy and memorable mishaps all give way to a single theme that echoes through each of our hearts. Family matters.

VLP 2016 Review

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Dear VLP friends and family,

As we jump into the new year, it is easy to get caught up in up-coming goals and resolutions. The future is unknown and full of opportunity. I am reminded that during this season last year we were getting ready to launch our new business endeavor. What dreams and ideas we had of 2016! How different, but exciting it was!

Behind the scenes, interview, documentary, legacy, family, home, studio, film, video, story, history, tell your story, tell my story, visual legacy productionsReady. Set. Go!

Last January found us waiting for the final touches to our new website. We had put together packages for personal video services and created sample videos. Future dreams for the direction of Visual Legacy Productions were in the back of our minds of course, but our heart was focused on helping families tell and preserve their stories.

February we launched! Finally, we were able to share with the world our passion and get to work. That’s when we made a surprising Behind the scenes, interview, FAQ, inspector, sound, business, home, yard, house, film, video, job, story, history, tell your story, tell my story,discovery. One of our future ideas was to develop services for businesses to tell their story. We hadn’t planned on it becoming a reality quite so quickly! By May we announced our Business Services including brand identity videos and visual résumés.  A month later, we added more services like the Video Newsletter. By November we had to redesign our business webpage to allow for our expanded brand identity packages, Real Estate inspired productions, and additional video services like FAQs and Featured Stories.

Behind the scenes, drone, launch, land, business, home, Phantom, valley, meadow, film, video, nature, Colorado, story, social media, fly, how-to, tell your story, tell my storyOur Horizons Continue to Expand

In August we added to our equipment arsenal a new toy- a Phantom 4 drone! While flying is exciting, studying for the unmanned pilot license was less so. Nonetheless, we are proud to say that Bryan passed with flying colors and is approved by the FAA to fly and film commercially.

Behind the scenes, interview, documentary, legacy, tribute, business, downtown, office, studio, film, video, story, history, tell your story, tell my story,In 2016, we were privileged to meet and work with people from multiple states, walks of life, and video needs. From non-profits to business leaders and mountain ranches to downtown offices, we are proud to have had a part in the great impact Colorado companies are making. Bryan and Erika have enjoyed networking with different groups of business professionals around the South Metro area. We are grateful for the partnerships and friendships that have grown out of weekly meetings.

Behind the scenes, teaching, FAQ, class, slideshow, business, home, realtors, house, film, video, job, story, realty, social media, learn, how-to, tell your story, tell my story,Starting a new business is never easy, but we are encouraged by the support and favor we have received along the way. There is a growing awareness in businesses for the need of video to communicate. Acting on and benefiting from that knowledge is still difficult for many companies. As families also learn about Personal Documentaries and Legacy Interviews, we hope that many more take advantage of preserving their heritage on video. As we go into 2017, we know new creative ideas will be tried and new business connections formed. What will that look like? Only time will tell.

 

The Value of Being a Listener

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airplane, window, city, arial, landing, takeoff, Phoenix, desert, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionOur lives intersect with other’s lives constantly. We often don’t take the time to connect and learn their story-to be a listener. But sometimes we do. When that happens, we grow in subtle ways.

Of all of my interactions with strangers, one of my favorites took place on a plane. After the initial greeting as the older gentleman and I settled into our seats, we made polite small talk. I am in my 20’s and he was closer to 80, but our difference of age gave way to a wide array of conversational topics rather than leave us with nothing in common.

A History of Stories

He was returning home from his mother-in-law’s funeral. She was an inspiring woman. Back in the day, she had been a single-mother of five daughters as well as a businesswoman. She and her daughters had hosted celebrities in El Paso and led the vacationers across the border to Mexico.

Alaska, water, tide, storm, cold, wind, rain, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionThe gentleman himself was also fascinating. He told me about his younger days when he would fish during Alaskan summers, and in the winters, journey across America to ski. From there, he told me about the villa he’d rented in a Mexican village. He described it as paradise. He loved nature and seclusion and commented that indigenous peoples believed we had forgotten how to be human anymore. His wanderlust had led him to purchase an isolated ranch in New Mexico. He would take occasional trips to the nearest city hours away. On one of those trips he met his future wife, and he made sure to always return for his supplies in El Paso so that he could see her.

In Common Interests

story, memories, colorado, mountains, tell your story, past, history, video, productionFinding out that I was from Colorado, the gentleman commented that he’d loved my state, but hadn’t been back in years. He’d stayed a spell in Crested Butte back when it was a tiny town of hippies who rallied to maintain the rustic charm. He’d even been a town marshal, and he and his horse had posed in many tourists’ photos. Back in his day they’d worked hard to conserve the town’s history when modern building and growth was threatening to take over.

He sighed and hoped aloud that the beauty of that mountain town had still been preserved. I told him I had recently been in conversation with friends and they had agreed Crested Butte was one of their favorite places. He smiled and seemed pleased.
windmills, kansas, energy, wind, green, roadside, driving, scenic, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionWe also talked about science and the environment. We discussed natural energy, depleted soil nutrients, better irrigation methods to conserve water, and he described the process of organic farming. He had turned to organic farming before it was popular. While the Farmers Bureau originally rejected him, they now included him as an honorary member to serve as an educator. He also showed me pictures of his cute little farm up north. I admired the different breeds of chickens and he explained his process of moving them throughout the year for a perfect system of fertilization and a symbiotic relationship with the environment.

Results from Listening

As our plane descended, we got ready to go our separate ways. I wanted to tell him that I create personal documentaries for my job and how I thought he airplane, window, rainbow, arial, landing, takeoff, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionhad an amazing story that needed to be preserved. But I didn’t. I had so enjoyed his sharing of his story, and I could see that he appreciated having someone show interest. Yet I was afraid that if I encouraged him to record the stories he’d told me our brief friendship would be tainted by a supposed attempt at flattery to buy our services. After we left the plane, I had an emotional high from the conversation and interpersonal connection. However, it wasn’t long before I wished that I hadn’t hesitated to encourage him to record his story. Once I arrived home, I tried to look him up online, but I did not know his last name and Facebook isn’t the tool of a super-sleuth.

That day I learned a valuable lesson; I should follow my heart and speak out my appreciation. But that wasn’t the most important part. Listening to the story of the man on the plane, I didn’t just learn about the adventures of his past. The greatest wisdom didn’t reside in our discussion of organics and agriculture. The most important part was that I listened. Really listened. Because of that, we both walked away enriched, encouraged, and valued.

Leaving a Visual Legacy

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Leaving Our Mark

There is something about being human that makes us want to make a mark on the world around us. We want to be known. Throughout the ages, mankind has tried to make such an impact as to leave something of themselves that would last longer than life. Some conquered nationsVisual Legacy Productions, tell your story, tell my story, modern technology, connection, cave painting, history, legacy, handprint, connecting, video production and strove for god-like power. Others tried to capture beauty and life into art forms or into words. Still others endeavored to leave following generations a better world via scientific advances or fighting for freedom. Whatever methods have been chosen, it seems the most meaningful legacies are impactful because we relate on a personal level.

Personal Connection

Personal connections are a buzz topic in today’s society, but the concept has been important since the beginning of history. A politician’s words mean little unless his promises connect with our desires. We respond to characters, whether historical or fictional, if we are able to empathize with them. A business that performs efficiently may have our respect, but the one that makes us feel valued has our loyalty. These are all examples of legacies that can be successful due to personal connections. This kind of relating is something that we strive to maintain in a world of online transactions and lessening human interaction. At the same time, technology has also given us the ability to connect and communicate in a way that was nonexistent just a few generations ago.

Visual Legacy Productions, tell your story, tell my story, modern technology, connection, using a phone, texting, calling, connecting, video productionCommunicating You

How does one communicate one’s essence? Artifacts leave us with glimpses of the person who created or owned them, but many gaps as to who they were or how they felt. Writing has been the most informative method of communication throughout most of history. From pictographs displaying life events to journals and autobiographies, man has used words to express himself. But written words have their limit. There are times when even adding emoticons to a text message are no substitute for calling on the phone. Even better than the phone is speaking to someone face to face. This is because many of the signals we use to communicate are non-verbal. While some people hide emotion more than others, it is easier to discern someone’s thoughts and intentions when communicating in person. This is not only polite but gives the impression of more connectedness. There are some levels of relationship that simply cannot be cultivated without engaging as physically as possible.

Leaving a Living Memory

So we want to leave a legacy and make an impact. We want to be known and understood. We want to share what we love with those we love. Yet most of us aren’t poets able to encapsulate something abstract into words. That is why having something like a visual legacy is so special. Through “show and tell,” we are able to communicate a deeper understanding of what we wish to share. There is nothing like bringing someone on a journey with you rather than writing a post card. With typical methods of writing genealogies or showing photos, the viewer only gets a Visual Legacy Productions, tell your story, tell my story, modern technology, connection, using the internet, internet, calling, web, skype, video chat, shopping, emails, laptop, digital, connecting, share, video productionglimpse. However, when you are able to tell your story on camera, it is the closest thing we have to being present in the moment. Video enables us to hear authenticity, see emotion, and to “sit” across from loved-ones. Video becomes what I like to call a “living memory.” The subjects are alive and present even while the action will have taken place in the past.

Legacy Videos

A visual legacy brings your story to life. More concrete then just words, more engaging than just sound, and more present than just photos, it plays out a true representation of one’s story as they would tell it. Video is an occasion when modern technology brings people together and becomes the enduring way of sharing a legacy.

The Man Behind the Camera

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 Father’s Day just passed and I thought I’d share with you a little bit about the man who started Visual Legacy Productions. Not only is Bryan the founder of our company, but he also happens to be my dad. This means I have access to his archive of photos that you may find amusing.

An Early Affinity for Cameras

Bryan has had a camera in his hand from childhood. One of his photos of rolling Pennsylvania woods was used in the brochure for his family-run inn. After guests complained about not seeing the sweeping view from atop the hill, Bryan admitted to climbing a tree to get the shot.
Bryan's career beginnings, Visual Legacy Productions/tell my story

Bryan’s video career began with recording class sessions for a small school where he met his future wife, Nancy. After marriage, they joined Youth With A Mission and Bryan began traveling the world with the media team. These travels took him to places of stunning beauty, but also slums, revolutions, and drug lord territories. He was able to use video to tell stories and educate others about the conditions around the globe. He discovered the unique ability of video to inspire change. The growing love of people and telling their story was worth weeks away from family, volatile locations, and stolen passports.Bryan's career, Visual Legacy Productions/tell my story

Flash forward to the 2000’s and by now Bryan had worked on many different types of projects: educational and promotional videos, interviews with Holocaust survivors, TV episodes, and documentaries ranging from science to history. After owning his own company (a predecessor to VLP) to do free-lance work, Bryan fulfilled a career dream when he was hired to work with the space industry.

Bryan's career, Visual Legacy Productions/tell my story
VLP is Born

In the late 2000’s, Bryan’s desire to make something that mattered came true when he was made Media Director of the non-profit organization, Rachel’s Challenge. By 2015, things were stirring again and Bryan stepped out with courage. This time, he would be leaving a comfortable income for the adventure entrepreneurship. Past projects had enabled him to meet many fascinating people, but he realized many others didn’t have a way to let their story be told. The direction of Visual Legacy Productions would not only give people a voice, but also help them connect with each other, share their passions, and find a lasting way to leave a legacy.

Beginning of family business, Visual Legacy Productions/tell my story

Mom used to joke that us kids would not know what our dad looked like since we were used to seeing a camera in front of his face. But we did see him. We saw his love of people and different cultures, we saw his hard work and determination, and we saw how he cared for our mother and us. He has been our father and friend, and he is now my boss. Hopefully through these fun photos and my synopsis of his story, you also can see the man behind the camera.

 

Introduction to VLP

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Dear VLP friends and family,

Each new year is filled with expectation and hope. This has been especially evident for us this year in launching our personal documentary service with Visual Legacy Productions. We hope that you enjoy the process of storytelling and progression of our company as much as we will!

First, let me introduce ourselves. We are a family with a heart to tell stories. Not just stories of famous people or for TV networks, but stories of and for the regular person. We believe every person has a story and everyone’s story is valuable. Our desire is to create a unique and lasting way for people to share their legacies.

Family Legacy Heritage First Generation Personal Documentary Visual Legacy Productions / tellmystory.us

Aunt Mamie during her interview.

Years ago, we looked for ideas to be able to work together as a family and use all of our different skills. Unfortunately, we could not think of something that matched everything and included everyone. We put that dream on hold and continued on our separate paths. Bryan has worked his entire career growing in his love for communicating to the heart and mind through media. Over the last few years, the desire grew to launch out on his own to help everyday people find an extraordinary way to use their own voice to share their stories. While brainstorming, Bryan recalled filming his oldest family member, Aunt Mamie, at a reunion just months before her death. Capturing our family legacy had meant so much to us, surely other families would find personal documentaries meaningful.

Meanwhile, Erika was narrowing her focus of interest in media to the production side of storytelling and was amazed that this growing passion for documentary was like her dad’s.  After 30 years of marriage, Nancy looked forward to the day she and Bryan could work on something they loved together, so when Bryan shared his business idea, we immediately had peace that this was the time. Over the next few months, Bryan left his job as Media Director for Rachel’s Challenge and Erika moved back to Colorado to continue her hands-on education.

It is our desire that our brand name would be more than just a company providing a service. Our videos are memorials, adventures, miracle-stories, and histories—bridges from the storyteller to the audience. The greatest stories are true stories, for they reach into our hearts and inspire. Whether you are a storyteller or an audience-member, we are all blessed to be given the honor of sharing in these stories.

The Blog & Social Media

The VLP blogs will come out monthly and focus on different aspects of the company or production. Trade information, production stories and fun facts may be areas of focus. In addition to blogs, new content will be routinely uploaded to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Through these avenues we hope to connect with our viewer and VLP family on a personally engaging as well as professionally informative level. We hope to see you there!