If you’ve ever done a video project, it better be something that you really care about because you are going to spend far longer with the material than you can possibly anticipate. Or, if the video project is about something really important to you, be prepared to encounter life effecting thoughts and emotions.
So, that’s probably part of the reason why I put off trying to create the album of images and videos for my mom’s memorial over the past six months… well that and having an over-crowded teaching schedule. The “teaching” excuse ended on December 17th and with the memorial service on December 28th I really needed to have a “poster,” collection of images and video ready to go by Sunday December 26th when I was going to drive from Las Vegas to Southern California. The day after the drive I set aside day to make sure everything was ready for the funeral the next day on Tuesday.
Predictably I still hadn’t finalized the image selection until Monday, December 27th. What to include, what to leave out, what stories do the images communicate, do I have time to do any image reconstruction/editing, how long should the video be, how many different kinds of back-ups do I have if/when the presentation tech fails on Tuesday? Like I said, I was still finding duplicates and images from unknown dates with unidentified relatives on Monday. I was able to cut the number of images/videos down from over a thousand to around 360, but the video version was over twenty minutes. Still too long, more pruning and video editing needed. I also needed to make sure I had multiple versions of the slideshow/video because I didn’t know what kind of equipment I would be using to show the final cut.
While this project was nowhere near as elaborate or complicated, I think it was Peter Jackson who said that movies are never really “done,” as much as the director runs out of time and the project is more or less abandoned. That said, I was able to create a poster of images and an 11-minute video to share for the funeral on Tuesday. Since then I’ve spent additional days still finding duplicate images, getting images into their correct time slots and posting the images to my SmugMug website, so that the event/memory can be shared on my blog. Over the course of this project I’ve also figured out how I want to host/share further photography projects. I still have video footage from dad and mom, talking at different times about the collection of family images that I still want to produce and publish. Basically, to be continued.
The genesis of the original “Family Photo Project” was when I saw that my son, Michael, was taking pictures with his phone of the poster that my sister put together for my dad’s funeral ten years ago, in 2011. Here was a whole part of his family story that he never got a chance to experience. Needless to say, over the past ten-years we’re losing these stories or at least the voices of those who were there to tell the stories. And as I’ve been telling my media students, if you don’t tell your story then someone else will and they’ll probably get it wrong. I really hope I got this one right, for you mom, all my love.