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Film Interview: Tell Me a Story

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Prompt

Create a video of a friend or family member telling a story from their life.

Core Ideas

Audio editing, atmosphere, personal narrative

Recommended Tutorials

Supplies

Smart Phone

Video Camera

Or, a camcorder, DSLR, smartphone, or tablet with a camera.

Adobe Premiere Icon

Video editing software.

If you’re working on a computer, options include free software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, or alternatively, higher end products like Adobe Premiere. If you’re working on a phone or tablet, try a video editing app like Splice from GoPro (which is free!).

Process

1.
Find a friend or relative with a story to tell, and interview them. 

Make sure you’re in a quiet location: background sound can be distracting.

memory interview eloise sherrid

2.
Ask your subject questions to guide their memory or to clarify. You can always edit your voice out, or, you might even decide to keep your voice in the video.

Interview can be any length but remember that the longer your interview is, the longer the editing process will be.

3.
Upload footage into your editing software of choice.

memory interview eloise sherrid

4.
Create a rough cut. Use the editing software’s cutting tools, so that it contains only footage you want to use. Use audio fades to make smooth transitions between audio clips.

Don’t underestimate the editing process: a 15 minute interview can easily take 3-4 hours to edit. Save your work regularly!

memory interview eloise sherrid

5.

Listen to the finished interview cut.

Write down key images, themes and emotions. For instance, in the example video, a key theme is the struggle to have a child, and some of the emotions are patience, wistfulness, and nostalgia.

6.
Come up with images that correspond with the themes & emotions of your interview. For e
xample, a sad mood in your interview might pair well with footage of rain.

Consider whether you want to be literal or abstract with your footage. For example, if you filmed your grandmother fondly recalling your first steps as a child, you can go either way.

Literal: footage of a family teaching a young child to walk. This could be staged with actors, or something you filmed documentary style at the local park with relatives and their new child. 

Abstract:  Footage of your grandmother working in the garden, placing seeds and new plants in the ground.

7.
Shoot video of the images you listed. You can stage or find the images.

memory interview eloise sherrid

8.
Import your new video footage into your previous editing project file, and edit them together in a way that makes sense.

9.
Add a title and credits to the beginning and end of your film.

memory interview eloise sherrid

10.
Export!

Examples

Cecilia Cao

“Out of all the projects I’ve worked on over the summer, I would say that this was my favorite. Fundamentally, I treated it as an opportunity to experiment, both with concept and material. Everything was created digitally, which was a challenge I didn’t want to tackle…but in the end, I am glad that I did.

I decided to interview my mom for this assignment, as she is a perennial source of inspiration for me. Though I like to think of myself as a grateful child, I still take my mom for granted. From a new edge to her character to a secret story from her youth, I can always find some new facet to her that is totally unexpected. This story, for one, was a surprise to me, as I never imagined my mom to miss curfew and wear a rebellious attitude round her collar.

Through the project, I wanted people to realize that parents were kids too; they probably did numerous things that were dangerous, immature, or both. They were young once, and now similar experiences are waiting for us down the road. Though the project required so much hard work, I learned much from it, and I will definitely try my hand at animation again!”

Alexia Towle

Alexia Towle

Project Assistant

“My grandmother, in typical Chinese fashion, does not often open up about her personal and past life. This project allowed me to find out parts of her that I didn’t know before, so this experience was really special.

Because it was a trip down memory lane, I chose to add video clips of her college scrapbook as well as old home videos to make it have an element of nostalgia. As for the puzzles that my grandmother is so fond of, it almost symbolizes how I’m putting the pieces together as to how she became the woman she is today. I really enjoyed this project because it was extremely personal, and it gives insight to viewers into her life as well as my own.

I used Adobe Premiere to edit the clips together, but it kept crashing and at one point all of my editing disappeared! After a temporary freak-out and a quick Google search, I was able to recover some of the sequences I made before, but not all. It was a good reminder that it is always best to save your project in multiple locations!”

Ruth Lee

Ruth Lee

Project Assistant

“Artwork is all about telling a story–and the best stories told are the ones that are raw, deep and personal. I’ve always been humbled by the hardship, struggle and sacrifice my older family members–especially my grandparents–have lived through, and getting the chance to actually sit down and interview my grandmother was truly moving, listening to the full length of what she had to say.

Taking the emotion and impact of her words and translating it into a visual demonstration allowed me to both see and imagine what she was communicating in an entirely new way. It made me visualize the event, then figure out how to represent it, and recreate her dictations to fit the format of a video; and this whole process exercised my abilities to think both figuratively and symbolically.

Overall, it really pushed my boundaries and comfort zone of what “storytelling” actually means or looks like, and helped me produce meaningful, intimate work that I can share with not only my own family, but also the many others who may find themselves reflected in the narrative she tells.”

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