The Difference Between a Legacy Interview and Personal Documentary

Helping people capture their stories is near and dear to our heart. Most families don’t think of catching these precious memories on video until it’s too late. So it’s no wonder that the few who do think ahead still struggle knowing where to even start! While there are limitless ways one could capture these memories for future generations, we’ll focus on our two main storytelling processes: Legacy Interviews and Personal Documentaries. What are the differences and benefits of each, and what does that mean for you? We’ll answer those questions in the rest of this blog.

Behind the Scenes of a Legacy Interview About Bio Team Visual Legacy Productions /

How They are Similar

Interview: Both storytelling options are filmed like an interview, perhaps sitting down in the comfort of your own home. But don’t expect a formal, impersonal Q&A. These interviews are much more like a friendly conversation.  We may ask a question and then you get to regale us (and by extension, future viewers of your video) with your story.

Content: As to content, many families like to share about their heritage, tell their “how we met” story, about their career, favorite memories or life lessons. Not every part of your story is sunshine and rainbows… and that’s ok! In fact, sharing about your struggles, whether they have been or are yet to be conquered, can be impactful and helpful to future generations.

Two Cameras: Unlike many home video projects or even other family history documenting companies, we always use two cameras for our clients, no matter the “level” of their video package. Why? Two camera angles gives so much value to the final product – your story! One reason is because cutting between the two camera angles makes watching the video more engaging in our fast-past, easily distracted world. Sometimes one angle shows an expression more clearly than the other. If you stumble over words or change your mind on what you wanted to say, we can seamlessly cover up any cuts so that those “mistakes” are not even noticeable when you see the final video!

The Edit: This brings us to the editing process. Both Interviews and Documentaries undergo some editing after filming the interviews. We’ll get into the differences in just a moment but know that both provide title screens to introduce your video and clean up mistakes and long pauses. Both also include at least 30 of your personal photos to illustrate your stories and history.

How They are Different

Legacy Interviews are a simple telling of your story. Personal Documentaries take it to the next level as a finely crafted version of your story.

Number of Interviews: One interview can include one person or two. The interview includes setting up the cameras, lights and sound equipment, and perfecting the location. An interview can last about 2 hours. Questions are addressed to the people participating in the interview. Either person can answer or they can engage in dialogue to best tell the story. In the example of a married couple, their banter back and forth about how they remember a story is not only the best version of the narrative, but also a cherished portrayal of the couple to their loved ones. What if you have other people whose perspectives would be great to add? A Personal Documentary allows for more than one interview so that you can hear from other relatives or friends.

Number of Locations: The number of locations where filming takes place coincides closely with the number of interviews. Going to multiple locations to film takes a lot of time to travel, set-up, etc. so Legacy Interviews are limited to one filming location. Documentaries can utilize additional locations for deeper storytelling or to capture additional interviews.

Additional Visual Elements: While both packages include some photos, Personal Documentaries really shine here! We include as many personal photos as needed to illustrate the stories you told during the interview. Showing home videos, letters, maps, or other footage can bring your stories to life visually.

Music:  Legacy Interviews don’t include music, but Personal Documentaries do. Instrumental music is a powerful inclusion to your story and goes a long way toward communicating the feelings of each segment. Please note that due to copyright rules and high prices we do not use specific songs by artists. Instead, we have access to a variety of high-quality, royalty-free music libraries so that you can get the good feelings without the increase on your budget.

Editing: As mentioned above, Legacy Interviews are slightly edited to remove pauses and mistakes, so the final version of the video is very close to the actual length of the interviews (up to 2 hours). But not everyone wants to sit through that much stream-of-consciousness. A Personal Documentary is highly edited so that you end up with a curated version of your story that is arranged, illustrated, and enjoyable to watch by more than just those closest to you. The final length can range around 30-90 minutes depending on the amount of interview material we started with. To see examples, check out our trailers for Personal Documentaries.

Which is Better?

So which option should you choose – the Legacy Interview or the Personal Documentary? It depends! If price is your top priority, the Legacy Interview provides a wonderful, full-scope storytelling option to capture your memories, values, and legacy for a less-expensive price. You really won’t miss out on the essentials needed to tell your story well. If you want to cover a lot of information, include more personal elements, hear from more people, or end up with an edited video that tells your story in a powerful and efficient way, the Personal Documentary is for you.

The two options are great starting points to consider, yet each category is highly customized because of each family’s needs and desires. If you feel like your vision for telling your story is different or a mix, contact us so we can curate the perfect combo for you.


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