Find out how we can help you start a personal history project.
Set up a free consultation by calling (347) 927-7GEN
Why hire a professional personal historian?
Hiring a professional personal historian takes the pressure off you: if you're like many people, you may have intended for years to preserve vital family memories, but were unable to find the time to do so. We make it easy: and, hiring a professional to help you create a structure for your project and organize your myriad photos and documents is often less expensive in the end.
How do I start?
Begin with a free consultation to discuss the purpose and scope of your project, who the subject is, what special elements are required, and other salient details. Please call us to schedule at no cost to you: 347-927-7GEN. During the consult, we will:
- Decide on the length of the project, quantity and nature of the material you want memorialized.
- Agree on music and photo selections (if a video), or photos and documents. Music must be provided by client or purchased on the client's behalf.
- Determine the desired timeframe and project completion date.
- Establish a production timeline and action items for both client and Seventh Generation Stories.
I feel like I don't have any stories worth telling, but my children/grandchildren want me to work on a book or video. Why should I do it?
Even if you feel your life has been lacking in excitement - too "normal" to focus on - we respectfully suggest that your family disagrees. If they didn't, they wouldn't be asking you to tell your stories! Seventh Generation Stories believes that everyone has a valuable story to tell, and that each person has wisdom, humor or experience to pass on. People who love you care a great deal about what your life was like, and your stories will help them know about times that have gone by. As well, the technology we have at our disposal is an immense gift our ancestors never possessed: imagine if you could see your great grandparents in a video, talking to you about their lives and sharing memories. Now, you can leave your descendents not only photos and words but also a way to literally see you come alive.
How do I decide what kind of video to make, or what type of narrative story to create?
We understand that it's difficult to choose from the many, many memories and stories you may have, and as hard to focus on how to chronicle them. That's why you're hiring us to help you. Whether you wish to pursue a video, narrative, or other project that represents the stories you want to tell, we suggest some starting points:
- Memorial -- A video piece dedicated to a late loved one, which usually includes remembrances told by those who knew him/her (ie. surviving spouse, children, siblings, etc.). These pieces are generally enhanced by photos and other family memorabilia. Prices start at $1200 USD.
- Biography: You -- This project is all about you, and rightly so. You've got a lot of memories to share! Here, you'd likely talk on camera about your life and family memories. Then, we edit in relevant personal and family memorabilia (e.g. photos and films). Add a partner, spouse or other family member at will. Prices start at $2500 USD.
- One Day With the ___ Family... -- A short but sweet way to create memories today that your descendants can see tomorrow: here, we'll film you over the course of a day, including any family members you wish and enhancing the piece with music, interviews and memorabilia. Prices start at $1000 USD.
- Couple's Memory... -- Did you or do you have a great love to celebrate? Whether you've been together for a year or a lifetime, a memory piece about your life as a twosome is a great investment in your past or future. These projects generally include interviews with you and your spouse, video taken of your day-to-day lives, and any memorabilia of your life together (photos, videos, plane tickets from travel/honeymoon, child(ren)'s birth certificate, etc.). Prices start at $5000 USD.
- A Tribute To... -- A video piece to give as a milestone anniversary or birthday gift, which can also be shown at an accompanying event. Friends and relatives, coworkers or others who care for the honoree, contribute interviews and any relevant memorabilia. Prices start at $2500 USD.
- A Year in the Life of _____ -- These projects are of a greater scale, and chronicle the life and times of an individual or family over the course of a year, condensed into a captivating and tightly-edited piece. This product is a component of our yearly preservation service. Prices start at $15000 USD.
- A Baby Story (aka Waiting for You, Waiting for Johnny, etc.) -- We can chronicle a pregnancy, birth and all the excitement surrounding this special event in a tasteful, artistic way. Your level of comfort guides the piece, and we work with you and your family to produce a memorable story that your child(ren) will treasure years from now. Prices start at $1500.
Note: Most video projects incorporate music of your choice as a complement to the piece, but this is entirely up to you.
How long should my video/project be?
Depending on the event or occasion, project length can range from 5 to 30 minutes or longer, if your materials and stories require it. The length will be determined to a great extent by the purpose of the video or written narrative, where it will be shown or by whom it will be read, and the nature of the subject/honoree or audience.
How long does it take to make a family or personal documentary? How about a book?
Answering this question depends on many elements. How many people will you include in the video? Do we need to travel to reach any of them? When are the subjects available, and for how long? What kind of media - and how much of it - are you providing for inclusion in the video (e.g. photos, home movies, documents, letters)? A short film of 10 minutes with fewer elements, such as one that commemorates a day-long event, like a bat mitzvah or wedding, can take from two weeks to one month. Pieces averaging 30 minutes take one month to three months to complete, and possibly longer, again depending on how much is chronicled and what additional media is available.
Print projects vary, based on whether we are working to write a shorter essay or longer memoir-type book. As well, the number of photos and or other documents you wish to include has an affect on the time and cost. You may expect that an essay focused on a life event, like a marriage or childbirth, might be 10-15 pages and take approximately two weeks to complete, including interview time. A book, chronicling a life story, can take six months to complete, also depending on included elements.
How will I decide which photographs, video clips, etc. to use?
Once we've discussed the overarching details of the project - for example: will it chronicle a special event or occasion? Is it a family history piece from the point-of-view of one person? Many people? -- and have made the music selections, this will help clarify the nature of the photos and other memorabilia which will be most effective in achieving the desired result. We can use any photo or document up to size 8 x 14. Reasonable changes and/or substitutions can be made during development of the project.
Do you accept digital photos and slides?
Yes. Digital photos need to be in either .jpg or .gif format, and need to be a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch). We can also scan your 35mm slides and negatives.
How are my photos stored in your office until you are finished with them?
We scan your material immediately upon receipt, and then return materials to the client as quickly as possible. If necessary, all photos and documents can be secured in a locked file cabinet, in a locked, climate-controlled office until it is picked up or returned.
Some of my photographs are in poor condition. Can they still be used?
Occasionally the condition of some photographs and video precludes their use; however, we have reliable resources for restoring most photos and other media provided for inclusion in our clients' projects. And, as always, we will do our best to include whatever media you wish.
Can the photos I use in my video be retained digitally for preservation?
Seventh Generation Stories will provide a CD of your included photos, or can transfer them onto a flash drive or external hard drive you provide. This service is provided to at no extra charge. If you wish a large number of photos converted to digital format, please see our Services menu.
Can video clips be used in my project?
Yes. VHS, Hi8, Digital8, Super8, all 8 mm, 16 mm, Betamax and most Mini DV formats are acceptable. Should you have a format not listed here, please contact us to discuss; we probably have the wherewithal to convert whatever you would like to include.
Can I include interviews in my project?
Yes. We are equipped to conduct professional interviews, or you can provide interviews to be included in the project, as well as any old footage (in any film or video format), with which we are easily able to work.
How do I make music choices? What about music rights?
We will collaborate on appropriate music selections. Our clients can provide music they have purchased on a CD, or we will purchase music on their behalf through a legitimate Internet site, such as iTunes. As long as the client has purchased the music legally, royalty fees do not apply. Legally purchased music can be used for an occasion where no admission or fee is charged for listening, such as a wedding, Bar Mitzvah, memorial service, corporate event, etc. Since the project is strictly for personal use, legal use of the music is covered under the Fair Use Provision of the music copyright laws.
Will I be able to see my project during its development?
Yes. Your input and feedback is an important component of your personal history project: Our clients have the option to review their projects in consultation with our producers and writers prior to completion. In keeping with our goal of offering clients the most current technologies available, we generally send you a web link to your work-in-progress, which you will be able to view online and comment on. If we are working on a print project with you, we'll email you (or fax/send via US mail, if preferable) drafts in progress.
Can I add to my video project in the future?
Yes. Retention of raw footage allows for updates or changes. After we deliver your project on DVD and/or an external hard drive (or "flash key"), Seventh Generation Stories will keep all raw footage and files on our hard drives for one month after project completion and delivery, at no extra charge. Your completed project and all raw footage can also be preserved, stored and safely kept for as long as you wish on digital hard drives for a fee of $25 per annum.
Can I save my video project in a way that allows me to share it with family and friends?
Of course! With a nod to our founding principle, and thus to the idea of preserving your special and priceless video-recorded memories for seven generations to come, we offer you the option of uploading your completed documentary to a video-sharing website for a nominal fee. We suggest www.vimeo.com (http://vimeo.com/about), where we have an account, which has many useful video sharing and privacy options, including an HD channel and password protection, so that you may readily store and share your Seventh Generation Stories video with friends and family at will.
How much lead-time does Seventh Generation Stories need to create and execute a project?
Ideally, we request two weeks' notice post-signature of our contract with you to prepare for basic oral history audio or video projects. This allows us to schedule meetings with you to review photos and other documents, discuss project goals, and arrange travel if necessary. For event-based projects, we ask for 60 days prior to the event to plan accordingly for set-up and interviews; however, we can be flexible depending on circumstances. Personal and family history projects make great gifts and tributes for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, retirement celebrations, and the holidays.
How do you determine the cost of your services, and what does a project cost?
Projects are unique and customized to fit clients' needs. Prices for single projects like a music and photo video with audio track of the subject's voice start at $1000, and can go as high as $40,000 for a long-form family documentary project that includes interviews with multiple family members, footage shot at family and other relevant events over a period of time, etc. Travel costs are not included in any base price, and must be signed off on by the client as travel needs arise.
Prices for projects with component parts, such as a book combined with a video piece, will be quoted using an all-in figure that accounts for each part. Corporate histories tend to price out a good deal higher than individual personal histories, given the need for integrating myriad interviews, often extensive research and other elements. Our average book project costs about $8,000, including design by a professional graphic book designer. Family history biography videos start at $2,500 per person and increase based on client specifications and required elements. Average fully-produced video biographies that include two family members (such as a set of parents) cost $6,000 and include up to 100 photos or other scanned documents per person, as well as rights-purchased music selections and the inclusion of a limited number of vintage family videos. Fees to transfer such family videos if provided on VHS, Hi 8, beta and/or other types of older media are additional.
Know that your project will be unique and thus that pricing is developed on a per-project basis, once all the desired elements are discussed and agreed upon. You will find our prices competitive with other personal historians creating high-end product.
If the cost of a family video isn't feasible for an individual, many times he or she will partner with his or her siblings or other family members to lower individual costs. For those who are cost-conscious, we suggest our annualized service, which chronicles families and/or individuals over time - helping to amortize a client's investment. Please contact us to discuss costs: we endeavor to make projects scalable and affordable within a client's budget, and will do all we can to accommodate same.
The initial consultation is free. A 30% deposit, or one-third of the total fee, is required at contract signing. A second 30% installment is paid upon primary review of either narrative draft or rough cut, and a third 40% installment is paid upon delivery of the final manuscript, video, or combined package.
What types of payment do you accept?
We accept personal or business checks, money orders, PayPal and cashier's checks. You may use a credit card to pay with PayPal.
How many copies of the finished presentation are included with my project?
Seventh Generation Stories includes 3 non-HD DVDs in our contract. Additional copies can be purchased for $20.00 each. With the imminent availability of Blu-Ray Disc / BRD™, we will be offering projects burned on HD DVDs at reasonable cost.
If I have questions that are not addressed here, how do I find answers?
Please call 347-927-7GEN or contact us. If you are interested in pursuing a project with us, we would be pleased to have you take advantage of our free initial consultation, which will answer all of your questions.