Wednesday, August 8, 2012

♥ interview with lisa madison of storykeep.

i just love when i know someone in real life who is up to amazing things,
and my college friend, lisa madison, is one of them. 

a documentary film maker, who also worked on fresh (2009), lisa and her colleague,
 jamie yuenger started storykeep, a film project designed to record people's lives-
their stories, their pictures & memories, and package them together in a way
 that is detailed,authentic and meaningful for each and every individual client.

i was lucky enough to get in touch with lisa and ask her a few questions
about this amazingly thoughtful new business. enjoy!!

♥ how did you and jamie come up with the idea for Storykeep? how long has it been established?
in 2010, we were both working on a sustainable food film called FRESH. the hours were long and we eventually found ourselves together more often than not. we shared meals. we shared secrets. we shared the work. jamie had passion for interviewing people, a skill she had honed through years as a folkloric fieldworker and public radio producer. lisa had been working in the documentary film world, cultivating her passion for telling stories visually, frame by frame. our dedication to our respective fields became a new bond and the foundation of StoryKeep. it didn’t take us long to recognize that we had stumbled upon a beautiful partnership, one that was more than the sum of its parts. neither simply a production company, nor merely an association of oral historians, StoryKeep encompasses the visual and aural complexities of a story.

♥ how does the whole process start? do you meet with just one member of a family or multiple people?
the first thing we do is meet with the family to map out the stories they would like to capture. this session is complimentary and gives the family the chance to ask any additional questions they may have about the process. if they decide to move forward, we’ll schedule a series of recording dates with the storytellers - there can be one or many, depending on the family’s vision. we meet in the storyteller’s home if possible, as that is usually the most comfortable and familiar location. during each session (lasting 1 - 2 hours), the interviewer will ask about the storyteller’s life, recording the conversations in either audio or video. when the sessions are complete, we edit the recordings so that they are a pleasure for families to hear or watch.

how do you decide which story is going to be told- which will be focused on and which will be left out? If you don't really know the people/family, how can you decide what is important and needs highlighting?

we have long conversations about what the family wants in the end product before we begin the recordings so we have a sense of what stories to capture. some families want the finished product to be highly edited, in which case we do pick and choose the gems out of the recordings. other families want us to do minimal editing, creating more of an oral history, in which case we take ourselves out of the recordings and master sound levels. each project includes feedback sessions for families to hear or see the finished product before we deliver it to them. they always have the chance to ask if we could add more of this or that.

what other types of artifacts are brought into the story telling? do you spend time digging through photo albums/newspapers or do the clients bring them to you?

we’ve had everything from a toy replica of an old family car to a baby book from 1902 brought to us as artifacts to illustrate family stories. we love to spend time searching for additional material to include in a family’s project but we find most of the time families have the materials to illustrate the stories that they feel are most important. often stories don’t need any illustration at all; the emotion and character that we capture when people tell us stories is so arresting that we leave it as it is, just the story and the storyteller.

♥ is there a certain set of questions that are asked initially to bring the important stories to light?

we don’t have a set list of interview questions. In fact, we would never approach an interview that way. instead, we have a rather in-depth conversation with the storyteller and their family to understand which stories are most important to them, which stories they hope to capture. from that conversation, we create a “story blueprint” which helps us open the conversations, guide them, and let them develop naturally.

 how long does the whole process take?
a project’s duration absolutely depends on the family and the project. in general, three months is the quickest turn-around. one of the packages we offer is “a year in the life”, where we schedule four recording sessions with a family over the course of a year. the package is most popular with new parents who want to capture their thoughts and the magical experience of having a child. for this type of package, the process will take at least 14 months.

♥ what is the most interesting story you have recorded so far?

this is such a difficult question to answer! everyone has interesting stories but what makes a story interesting is its context in someone’s life. one of our clients was almost captured by nazi soldiers but narrowly escaped, another client was a nun in India for thirty years. those stories are fascinating in their own right, but it’s the person’s greater journey that makes them incredible.

 what have you learned about your own lives throughout this whole process of recording the lives of others?
lisa: one of the things i’ve learned about my own life is that i remember things that i record. if i’m walking around my neighborhood and take a photo or do a quick audio recording about what i’m experiencing that moment and what i’m thinking, i can look at that photo or listen to that audio clip months later and remember that moment and how it fit into that day. i think it’s such a beautiful thing to record our lives because it not only gives us an opportunity to reflect but it also captures the moment for our children or grandchildren. maybe someday my children or grandchildren will look at the images or voices i’ve recorded during this part of my life and have a greater understanding and appreciation for who i am and who i’ve become.

jamie: i’ve learned that most people have overcome hard times, in one way or another, and those experience seem to be the biggest influence on a person’s life and personality. struggles make for good stories.

do you have your clients visit you, or do you visit their homes? Is the filming done in the same place or different places? Is it mostly voice recording and pictures or live recording of the people?

we try to meet our clients in their homes because it’s where they’re most comfortable. some stories require us to do interviews in one place and then capture an event (family reunion, for instance) in another location, and we just edit the footage together in the end. it’s true that recording in audio and video offer different experiences. audio can sometimes feel more intimate and inconspicuous. audio recordings also allow future listeners to imagine the speaker free from time and space. on the other hand, the experience of recording in video allows for the visual gesturing and nonverbal communication some people can’t go without. in the end, it’s a decision based on the kind of recording experience the family wants and type of piece they want to share with their family.

how many projects do you plan to take on at once?

we’ve calculated that we can take on about four life chronicle projects a month but since our clients start projects with us at different times, it never is so simple. we have many overlapping projects in various stages at any one point which makes it fun

is there anything else you would like me to share with my bloggers?

our stories define us. memories create our narratives – they help us find our place in the world. StoryKeep was founded to provide people with the opportunity to capture and preserve those memories and experiences so that future generations might better understand their history. as documentarians, we understand how to navigate the canyons of a person’s experiences. as storytellers, we know how to ask, how to listen, and when a topic is too sensitive to approach. as media makers, we blend old and new media and bring unparalleled production quality to the family documentary. we turn family stories into family heirlooms.

0 ♥ love notes.:

Post a Comment

♥ tell me how you really feel!