Home Process One customer's experience Testimonials About Viva Videos Contact Corporate Videos One customerís experience copyright: Viva Videos 2018

“Why I recorded a video of my life”

John Botterill, who lives near Leeds, talks about what it felt like to record his life story with Viva Videos  
Twenty years ago, my son suggested that I write down my story, saying the grandchildren would never believe the life I’ve lived.  So I went out and bought a word processor and even wrote a couple of chapters.   But the trouble with writing your life story is that while you may have strong memories about some eras of your life, other parts can be hazy.  And without enough detail for the story to make sense, I didn’t feel comfortable continuing.  So I put the word processor away, saying that it was just too difficult, and my life story was put on hold. Then my son heard about Viva Videos.  I don’t have a problem with talking, so I thought that recording a video about my life might be the answer.  And I’m so glad I gave it a try because it was the most fabulous two days: quite simply, I was able to relive my life. Before filming day, I looked through boxes to find photographs and records, like work certificates and school reports. I also spent a day visiting my birth town, which is about 60 miles away, in order to help gather my memories. It wasn’t essential to do this but it meant that while reminiscing, I could also take snaps of my old homes, the school and village sign. On the day of filming, Valerie sat me in a chair in my lounge, set up a tripod and said, ‘Now, don’t let the camera get in your way.’ And I shared my stories, structured around 20-odd topics that we had decided in advance, including my childhood, meeting my wife and my career in the police force. We also strolled around my village, filming at locations that have been important to me over the years, for example the allotment and cricket ground. I’m very impressed with the finished product – it really is a documentary, complete with my voice-over, a news clip, shots of my photos and certificates, plus other images that Valerie has unearthed to illustrate my words. It’s beautifully packaged as well. My daughter has told me that she thinks the DVDs are a far more special and touching family record than a written memoir because she can hear me speaking and see my face. And when I watch them, I think that the films capture my character and life perfectly. If this is what I leave behind for my grandchildren, I’m happy. That’s me.” John’s advice for anyone thinking about filming their life story Don’t expect a clapper board and someone shouting, ‘Action!’ “Don’t worry, your home won’t be full of people shouting at each other. This is much more relaxed – it’s just lovely Valerie with her tripod and a camera in your front room.” Pretend the camera isn’t there “I wasn’t used to speaking to a video camera, so I decided to approach it as though I was talking to my grandchildren. The camera isn’t intrusive and Valerie doesn’t move it around when filming you at home, so it’s easy to ignore it. Outside, she carries it on her shoulder but by this time, you’re used to the experience of being filmed.” It doesn’t matter if some of your memories are patchy “Not many people can speak continuously about their past without occasionally being unsure about the flow of events or those minute details. But filming is not like writing a book – on camera, you can just include the important points of your life, like your school days, and it doesn’t matter if there are sections or details of your story that you’ve missed. After all, you’re the only one who knows.” It’s fine to take a break from filming to think “While you’re being filmed, you may need to take a break to gather your thoughts. There was a point in the afternoon when I needed a minute of thinking time, so Valerie stopped filming and it was really helpful.” You can do it with your other half “My wife, Pamela, was brought into the filming at the point in my life story where I met her. The camera recorded our conversations, and filmed us both walking around the village. It was lovely to share this experience with her. It’s like we’re talking to our grandchildren together.”
“If this is what I leave behind for my grandchildren, I’m happy.  That’s me.”
One customer's experience