​What if those names on your family tree could speak?

How many times have we listened to people’s stories and wished we could rewind and replay them at some point in the future?

We can try to retell the stories we hear but inevitably the small details, the subtleties and nuances get lost. And of course our memories don’t always serve us as well as we’d like.

It’s not just the facts. It’s the emotions and expressions that go alongside the storytelling that get lost. In 2014 I asked my mother an innocent question about how I happen to be related to some distant relatives coming to stay. Several hours later I was still listening to a flood of fascinating stories about my heritage that I’d had no idea about and no hope of ever remembering fully. I asked her right there and then if she would sit down and recount it all in front of a camera and, at that moment, Magic Lantern Media was born.

Like many people, my mother has pledged on numerous occasions to ‘write it all down’ in the hope of preserving her memories for her grandchildren and future generations. My aunt has even created a family tree going back hundreds of years.

How many times have we listened to people’s stories and wished we could rewind and replay them at some point in the future?


We can try to retell the stories we hear but inevitably the small details, the subtleties and nuances get lost. And of course our memories don’t always serve us as well as we’d like.


It’s not just the facts. It’s the emotions and expressions that go alongside the storytelling that get lost. In 2014 I asked my mother an innocent question about how I happen to be related to some distant relatives coming to stay. Several hours later I was still listening to a flood of fascinating stories about my heritage that I’d had no idea about and no hope of ever remembering fully. I asked her right there and then if she would sit down and recount it all in front of a camera and, at that moment, Magic Lantern Media was born.

Like many people, my mother has pledged on numerous occasions to ‘write it all down’ in the hope of preserving her memories for her grandchildren and future generations. My aunt has even created a family tree going back hundreds of years.

But it got me thinking about how incredible it would be if those names on the family tree could speak. Who wouldn’t want to listen to their ancestors talk about their lives, their hopes and dreams, their children and even their ideas about the future?

Of course it’s too late for many of us to get video footage of our parents let alone grandparents and great grandparents but, with today’s smartphone technology, that doesn’t mean we can’t start as we mean to go on.

Every parent has their kids on video these days. But often it’s shaky footage of them appearing in a play or larking around on holiday. After the novelty of filming the new baby walking, talking and performing wears off, how often do we think of simply getting them to chat on film. This is the stuff that future generations will find priceless, especially if it’s done right.

The problem is where to start - which is why people with good intentions about such things often get stumped. That’s when I realised that – as trained journalists and video editors – my husband Gary and I have the required skills to create something priceless for our own children to treasure. And why stop

there? How wonderful to be able to give that gift to others either by training them to do the same thing or actually doing it for them.

All our working lives we’ve been telling other people’s stories – from the man who grew cauliflower in his ears for charity to the little girl who had a life-saving heart transplant.

In fact, through my work as a charity press officer, I’ve been sharing stories about people affected by cancer for years, without fully appreciating that the videos I’ve produced have become treasured memories for the families whose lives have now moved on.

The purpose of telling these stories has been to sell newspapers, to promote organisations or raise awareness of
campaigns. But some stories are worth telling for their own sake. They don’t have to be new or headline-grabbing to be compelling.

Like treasured photographs, videos are about capturing moments in time but we need to remember that, once the opportunity is missed, it’s gone forever.

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