Monday, June 22, 2009

The 'I'm not full of myself' syndrome...

A while back, I made it known to friends and clients that I would be traveling to San Diego on a work-cum-leisure trip in July (7th to the 21st to be precise). The main goal is to spend time with my husband's family and escape the brutal Austin heat. But when someone I know requested I create her husband's Video Biography during this trip, I agreed and decided to extend that offer to anyone else who might have relatives / friends in San Diego - minus any travel charges of course!

Well, it turns out that someone did. Paul* had always thought his grandfather had led a full life... and though he knew the highlights, he wanted to get to know him better. He lived close enough to his grandfather, so it would be safe to surmise that he had had years and years of opportunity to acquaint himself with the person his grandfather was. But unfortunately that was not the case. They met at birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions and occasionally over dinner... and the conversation inevitably revolved around how the day had been, what game was playing on TV, girlfriend trouble, aches and pains... in the midst of all the high drama of daily life, who had time to reminisce about the past? I can't say I blame them... I've been guilty of exactly the same thing in the past.

But this was not going to continue any longer. After discussing it with the rest of the family, Paul decided to commission a Video Biography of his grandfather... Enter 'Save Their Story'. It was a wonderful gesture on his part and as Paul was about to open the door to his grandfather's home to tell him the news, he couldn't help but feel excited. Men aren't always good with words, and Paul regarded this as just the right way to convey to his grandfather how much he loved and valued him.

Needless to say, Paul was surprised when his grandfather declined to get interviewed for the purpose of the Video Biography. His reasons were -
a). He was too old to be 'prattling' about his life like a little child.
b). You can put your money to better use.
c). Who would want to hear an old man go on?
d). Would this be shown on TV?

Even after Paul clarified to him that the Video Biography would be copyrighted in his name and that it wouldn't make his way to the television or even cinema halls, grandfather was reticent. Paul pointed out that it wasn't expensive, especially not with the whole family chipping in. And as far as who would want to hear an old man go on, well, he did. So did his cousins. And their parents. And well, most everyone who knew him.

But no go. More doubts popped up in grandfather's mind.
'I don't know how to be in front of a video camera.'
'I'll tell you my stories. Then you tell them to your children. Problem solved.'
'It's vain to keep on talking about yourself.'

When it became very apparent that his grandfather was determined not to go ahead with it, I advised Paul that he drop the idea... at least for now. You couldn't force the man! What ended up happening though is that we're talking about a 'Tribute Interview' Video Biography to be created for his grandfather instead. Come July, the entire Johnson* family - extended and immediate - hope to get together and create a Video about Paul's grandfather, pieced together from their various perspectives and stories of him through the years. Paul already knows what stories he wants to share, his little niece is going to be interviewed alongside the little wooden push-cart that grandfather made for her, and the grown-ups are already stocking up on boxes and boxes of Kleenex because they have a feeling this is going to be an emotional one. Hopefully the Video will be ready in time for grandfather's 75th birthday that's not that far away.

Maybe that will make him change his mind.

*Names have been changed to respect their privacy.


Kripa said...

that's awesome Penny!!! Good to see you do so well for yourself, and of course, be happy doing it...
video biographies sound awesome... would love to see some of your work someday...


Pat's Place said...

That is a great idea--attack the problem from a different direction!! And that gives me an idea about my mother...

Post a Comment