I am excited to announce the creation of a new package, called Wonder. This is an interview of your child, between 30-60 minutes, where we discuss your child's life, his/her interests, family and future ambitions. As with the other packages, the video incorporates photos of your child and a transcribed book is available.
This package is a 180 degree turn from the other offerings at Eternal Roots, but there is too much value here to overlook. The purpose of this blog entry is not only to introduce the new package, but to tell the story of its creation.
Just as Eternal Roots started with the interview of my grandfather, the Wonder package started with my 8-year old daughter Julia.
I have a large whiteboard in my home office. This is where I deposit thoughts and ideas and To-Do lists, prioritize and plot out upcoming interviews and projects. I leave the bottom of the board blank because Julia is always drawing whales and Pokemon characters. Her artwork makes me happy because it reminds me why I'm doing this project.
I noticed Julia had written her name in my upcoming interview list a couple times. One of us would erase her name, but her name kept reappearing. I like to think I'm an observant person who notices signs, and this occurrence caught my attention. Soon before Christmas I asked Julia if she was trying to tell me something, and asked if she wanted me to interview her. Julia responded that she was just playing around, but it was too late. The seed of an idea had been planted. What if I interviewed her about her 8-year old life? What would it mean to her at 28 years old to have a video of her 8-year old self talking about her life and aspirations?
It didn't matter that Julia was kidding around - I became serious about interviewing her. I shot a Facebook Live video sharing the idea and received positive feedback. I received an email from a friend I've known since high school, with three children, who encouraged me to do it.
I interviewed Julia on New Year's Day. I initially intended to interview her on a comfy chair in my bedroom, but my wife convinced me I should set up in Julia's bedroom. I always prefer to conduct my interviews in the subject's own home, where people are the most comfortable. This was also an opportunity to pan the camera around the room to record what her room looked like at this particular age. We tidied up her room (long overdue) and made the bed. She had been wearing pajamas throughout most of the holiday break from school, so it seemed natural to let her continue. I set up my lighting kit and shot some still photos before we began. As shown in the photo, Julia seemed to enjoy the attention.
I started with basic questions to ease her in. I asked her to spell her last name, state her birthday and hometown, then had her recite the names of her entire extended family. We discussed the recent holidays, her schools, teachers and favorite subjects. I asked about her favorite foods, shows, music, games and activities. In other words, we discussed things she might forget as an adult. This was a snapshot of Julia's life. I then asked if she could visit herself as a 3-year old, what would she say to her younger self? She responded that she would warn herself not to believe her dad when he talked about zombies. (The Father of the Year Award Committee passed on me that year.) I then flipped the question around and asked what she might like to say to herself if she could meet herself at 28 years old. Julia's face lit up and her eyes widened. She started talking about flying cars and future technology. Her energy here was magnetic.
We closed out the interview and I started editing that night. She is only 8 years old, but we have hundreds and hundreds of photos and videos of her. When adult clients communicate the challenge of curating a few dozen photos of their lives to incorporate into their custom documentary, I totally get where they are coming from. It was hard enough curating photos for my 8-year old, so I empathize with senior citizens embarking on this task. It is worthwhile, I promise!
I opened Julia's video with a short photo montage set to music. I inserted an old video clip of my wife's ultrasound when she was pregnant with Julia. The video, which has over 140k views on YouTube, shows a microscopic Julia wiggling around. The video then transitions to our interview.
After careful deliberation, I decided not to publicly share Julia's video. Even though we have already shared much of her life online, I decided to keep this video in-family. I might share some stills or muted video clips, but feel it's best to refrain from publicly sharing. I would show your children the same respect.
That's how the Wonder package came to be. I saw something I interpreted as a sign, I realized it could provide value to others, many decades from now, and I created something special for my family. I hope to do the same for your family. The Wonder package is now live on the website.
My wife and I created this meme a while back. It originally read, "Every Morning Brings Unlimited Possibility and Potential." First thing this morning we swapped out "Morning" with "New Year," and it felt perfect.
I wish you a Happy New Year and hope you pursue your goals and dreams with passion and purpose! So much can change in the scope of a year. One year ago today this project had yet to enter my consciousness. I was preparing to interview my grandfather the following week, but had no idea what was in store for me and didn't have much in the way of goals or objectives for 2016. About two weeks later I resolved to make life story recording my profession, and my world turned upside-down - in an amazing way.
A year ago on January 1, 2016, how did you envision your year? As you sit here today reflecting on your life, are you satisfied with the choices you made last year? Have you been associating with quality people who inspire you and lift you up? There is absolutely no reason why you can't make this an awesome year.
Announcing a Major Facelift for the Website
I launched this website on April 1, 2016. I started with packages titled Basic, Deluxe and Couples. I later added a Memorial package. While I have tweaked the package details over time, the names themselves weren't at the forefront of my mind.
On the morning of December 31st, I received a message from a high school friend, offering constructive feedback. She watched one of my Facebook Live videos, and said she feels inspired by my mission. That's great. The next line identified a typo on my Packages page. This mortified me, so I flew out of bed and cured the problem. Whew!
Next she said the titles of my packages didn't convey the feeling behind the project. She was totally right. You've led a fascinating life, you're hiring me to record your story, and I'm offering "Basic" and "Deluxe" packages? This isn't a fast food restaurant! While I know my products are amazing and deliver priceless value, the package titles were totally flat.
It can be challenging for an entrepreneur-male-attorney to accept critical feedback. When I receive such feedback my reflex is to be defensive and rationalize the status quo. However, I also recognize that I can only be so great in my own head, but my potential is unlimited if I am open to the wisdom and insight of others. I spent the next hour brainstorming package titles that conveyed some emotion. The new Packages are detailed below. The Packages page is located here.
Interview for 1 hour, edited and divided into chapters. May include up to 10 photos incorporated into the video.
Cost $500 (plus tax)
This is the former "Basic" package. This is the simplest and least expensive option. This includes a one-hour interview and up to 10 photos get incorporated on a video. The word "Highlights" does a much better job of capturing the nature of the package because this interview covers the highlights of your life. We cover your major milestones and experiences and give you a platform to concisely share what you need to share.
Interview up to 3 hours, edited and divided into chapters. May include up to 30 photos to be incorporated into the video. Interview is transcribed into a hardbound book, photos included, also divided into chapters.
Cost $1,750 (plus tax)
This is the former "Deluxe" package. This package is 3x longer than Hightlights and include 3x as many photos. This package also includes the transcribed book. The three hours of interview time enables you to really reflect on your life and go deeper. We cover your major milestones and experiences, but this differes from Highlights in that more follow up questions are asked and you have time to share more stories in greater detail. We can also explore the meaning and significance of your life.
Interview you and your partner individually, then together as a couple, for up to 4 hours, edited and divided into chapters. May include up to 40 photos to be incorporated into the video. Interview is transcribed into a hardbound book, photos included, also divided into chapters.
Cost $2,000 (plus tax)
I really struggled naming this one. This is the former "Couples" package. This has been difficult to name because you don't have to be married to participate, so I didn't want to limit the scope with matrImonial references. You also don't have to be different sexes, so I wanted to avoid any gender specific references. I flirted with the title "Commitment," but my wife didn't like the vibe of that word, believing it sounded like someone was locked down involuntarily. We tossed around ideas about the meaning of a committed relationship, and the word "Unity" just fit.
Interview of up to one hour to honor the memory and life story of a loved one. You can do this to honor someone who has passed, or you can do this to honor a loved who who is still with you. May include up to 20 photos to be incorporated into the video. Transcribed book optional. Cost $500 (plus tax)
This package was revised a couple days ago to reflect a change in name and scope. As detailed in a separate blog entry, Create a Tribute Video for Your Parents, I explain why I changed the title from "Memorial" to "Tribute," and I increased the scope to include tribute videos people alive and passed.
This package is reserved for those with terminal degenerative conditions. People may select among the Highlights, Reflection, or Unity packages, and they will receive priority scheduling.
I struggled naming this package because I want to be sensitive and tactful. I initially called it the "Priority Package," but decided that sounded like a UPS or FedEx offering. People with terminal and degenerative conditions have limited time to record their stories, and this is a vehicle for their stories to become eternal.
About the Blog
Here I write about the evolution of this project, the act of preserving life stories and personal development. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.