To me, storytelling and video making are two of the strongest instruments in life, and thus in communication and marketing. Images alone are already eye catchers, but video is much more likely to be clicked and shared. Video, music and a good story are such a powerful combination. According to a recent article by Ginny Soskey on HobSpot “visual content works.” And further: “For example, in just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content — photos and videos — saw a 65% increase in engagement.” My passion for visuals, however, have an entirely emotional and personal reason. I’d done image movies with a professional film team before. But this is an entirely different story.
I really discovered video making in 2010. It was the year of my Grandad’s 85th birthday, and I was thinking about what to give him. He always was a very humble man. Grandad was born during World War I and survived World War II injured, unfortunately with his beloved brother gone missing. He had also survived the German Democratic Republic, where people were kept from freedom and their own opinions. Hence, every day in freedom was a gift to him. If you asked him, what he wanted, he’d answer: “I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything.”
We made a movie about his life
It was my genius husband, who came up with the idea of making a movie about his life, family and friends. Until then, we both had no experience with professional movie making, but I loved the idea instantly.
I started gathering photos from my Grandad and from family members. I asked my family to send us movies and greetings by video. Then we started cutting, steeling a bit from professional movies (after all, it was just for private use), even more cutting and adding music (obviously professional music, but it was all kept private), until we travelled to visit him already one week prior to his birthday. Since he was already very ill and sadly couldn’t leave the house anymore, we visited his friends and recorded their greetings and wishes as well. We secretly “stole” many of his photographs from his childhood and teenage years, photographed them with a professional camera, “photoshoped” them and incorporated them into the movie. We spent the days with him and the nights in front of our computer that we’d taken with us.
His gift was a remote control
On the day of his 85th birthday, we gave him his remote control, wrapped in gift paper. We had sneaked the CD with the movie on into his DVD player in advance. I still remember his puzzled look. We asked him to play it, and he pressed the button…
I have never seen my Grandad crying. When my Grandma passed away, who he had looked after for many years while she was ill, he was as brave as always. Only when he watched the movie in silence, tears were running down his cheeks. And us? His small family was sitting in front of the telly, watching the video, watching him, everyone sobbing and laughing in unison.
We turned our life and the world outside his little room into movies for him
Shortly after Christmas my Grandad fell over in his small apartment. He couldn’t get up by himself anymore. Hence, he agreed to move in with my auntie, who looked after him 24/7 and really devoted even more of her time to him, as she’d already done before. My husband and I drove up to East Germany to see him. We decided to leave our iPad with him, which we’d prepared with some entertainment apps, including his own movie. From time to time, we made new movies to share our life in Switzerland with Grandad, and to bring the outside world into his little room he was trapped in. We sent them via e-mail, so he could watch them on the iPad. All the technology was an entire new world for him, but he managed. He enjoyed the movies, and when we were speaking on the phone, no matter how much pain he suffered, he was as always good-humoured and cheered us up.
He also played his movie every single day according to my aunt. Several times. Until one day, he was too weak to eat, to speak, and to watch. He passed away, listening to the music of his movie, which had been the story of his life.