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.
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.