We want to get video memoirs for both my parents.
Why can't we do them in one?
It would be nice to film a couple together, but there
are several problems with it.
1) It doesn't allow the flexibility to edit the interview
to our level of quality. One person usually starts to answer
a question, but a partner often jumps in to interject or comment or continue the story. Wherever their voices overlap or clip each other limits both our ability to keep the good stuff and delete the extraneous, as well as the audience's ability to hear both parties. In the end, the editing would take more time and cost more money, and you'd have a less elegant finished product.
2) It means the camera has to be pulled back to encompass both subjects so in case one
person talks while you're interviewing the other, you can always get them on camera when
3) In addition, oftentimes there is one half of a couple who tends to talk more and one who
tends to talk less. When the more talkative one is around, the less frequent talker often
doesn't say much. It has been our experience that people tend to talk more freely about their
lives -- the good and the bad -- when they are just interacting with us, the interested
interviewer and the cameraman, than when anyone else in their family is present. Each of
your parents had a childhood and youth with dreams and fears and activities and schooling
and family relationships, in addition to jobs -- separate from their spouse. And even once
their lives connected, they both experienced marriage, parenthood, and everything else from their own perspective.
One of my parents has Parkinson's, and their
voice is no longer strong. Is it too late to do a
memoir project or Audio Keepsake with them?
Not necessarily. My Dad had a variant of Parkinson's
(Lewy Bodies with Dementia), and his voice had gotten
pretty bad. It would have been better to interview him
sooner, but we can still understand him without straining,
and he was still making sense. That's the main criteria. Also, people with voice issues often have voice exercises they can do to make their voices stronger for a short time. (My Dad did.) Energy is another help when it comes to voice. Often subjects really get into the idea of finally, finally telling their stories (even if they were reluctant at first), and it energizes them. One daughter told me that she hadn't seen her mother (who has Parkinson's and said her voice was not very good) so energized by anything since her mother had written a book some 25 years earlier. And she gave a GREAT interview.
If, though, it's too late to interview one of your parents because of illness or death, and
you'd like to get your other parent's story, then at least a portion of their spouse's story
gets told as well -- including how they met, their courtship and marriage, children, travel,
places they lived, retirement, and so on.