31 Jan  

Tips for Creating a Video Legacy Memoir

Have you ever wished you knew more about your parents or grandparents? Maybe you’ve yearned to know about their challenges, adventures, life choices, and passions. Chances are other people in your family have, too.

Creating a video memoir of your loved ones is a wonderful way to honor the defining moments in a person’s life. Capturing a part of their story can result in a beautiful, moving portrait that will be a lasting a gift your family appreciates for generations.

If you decide to create a loved one’s life story in a video memoir, here are some tips to get you started.

Set a Memoir Goal:

Know what story is being told. Is this a life story of your mother or the 60-year love story shared by your grandparents? Outlining this will help you create specific questions to ask.

Know your intended audience. Decide if this video is be shown at a large celebration or just for immediate family in an intimate gathering. Again, this will help drive your questions to ask your interviewee.

Know whom should speak in the memoir. It could be the subject themselves, such as your mother, or both grandparents together. It could also be a memoir where others share their experiences about the subject, or a combination of all these story tellers.

Set a time limit to the video. Know up front how long you plan for the video to be, taking into consideration how many hours of the subject’s time might be required. You may need several interview sittings to gather the information required. Many hours of interviews could be edited down to thirty minutes or an hour.

Focus on Storytelling:

The most interesting way to create a memoir is though stories. Encourage the subject of the memoir to share stories of their life through the experiences that shaped it. This will lend a more personal and human feeling to the video.

Include a Theme:

Think about how your loved one’s life can be catalogued into themes such as:

Key relationships
Hardships and successes
Golden years
Family traditions

The essentials needed:

  • Create a list of stories or questions you want to cover. If you need help, look to your family or the subject of the memoir.
  • Video camera or smart phone.
  • Tripod to keep the camera or phone steady so you can focus on the interview.
  • Microphone(s), lavalieres if possible, with hook-ups to your camera.
  • Consider lights for a professionally lit stage. Use a combination of lights on stands as well as natural light with a side-window near your subject, but not directly behind them.
  • Editing software to edit the video, or you can ask a tech-savvy friend or relative to do this.

Sample legacy video questions:

  • What is your full name and where were you born?
  • What did your father/mother do for a living?
  • What were your parents like?
  • Describe the neighborhood/s where you were raised.
  • What school/s did you attend?
  • How did you spend your free time?
  • Did you have any hobbies?
  • How did you spend your summers?
  • Why did you choose your career?
  • How did you meet your husband/wife?
  • What was your greatest life challenge and what did you learn from it?
  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  • What do you remember about your own grandparents?


Working with a loved one to document their life is a precious process. Creating a legacy video in their own voice is an empowering experience. It can capture special memories forever that otherwise might have been lost—and will be something your family treasures for years to come.

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