The Legacy Masters keeps memories alive with video biographies

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krisrivera100BY KRIS KELLEY RIVERA

“Time goes very fast. Enjoy everything you can, while you have the opportunity.”

These words of wisdom come from 85-year-old Joyce Robinson, an interview subject of The Legacy Masters, while talking to the camera and recounting her memories. Each of us has our unique family stories that help us define who we are, and where we come from. But as we get older, we begin to lose loved ones, as well as some of our own memories. The Legacy Masters has created a way to keep our family stories and experiences alive, long after the storytellers have passed away.

The Legacy Masters founders, Dan Anderson and Doug Minnick.

The Legacy Masters founders, Dan Anderson and Doug Minnick.

The Legacy Masters is a family video biography company based in Studio City. Founded by Doug Minnick and partner Dan Anderson, the company creates high-end documentary-like videos meant to capture memories for future generations. Minnick, who formerly worked in the music business, was inspired to start the company after losing his own mother to cancer a few years ago.

“My mother was a storyteller,” he says. “She even went to the lengths of sitting around a table with a cassette recorder with her sisters, and talking about their childhood.” Years ago, Minnick’s friend Anderson, a TV Journalist and documentarian, suggested that they get his mother on video. They never got around to doing it. Not long after, Minnick’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, became too sick to tell her stories, and was gone. All of her stories left with her.

Although we all think we might take the time to make videos of our parents or grandparents, the fact is it is something most of us put off. As Minnick says, “it’s something we would all like to have but we just don’t get it done.”

The Legacy Masters makes it easy. There’s very little preparation involved, other than gathering photos and giving them the basic background of one’s life. You outline what you’d like to talk about, and they do the rest. The company researches relevant places and events, and incorporates family photos into the biography. A journalist conducts the interview, which is shot and edited with professional equipment.

Jim Redding's DVD biography, front and back covers.

Jim Redding's DVD biography, front and back covers.

Minnick explains that having a journalist ask questions, rather than a family member, makes a big difference. “Having a journalist conduct the interview brings out the wisdom, values, and humor that make a person who they are.” The interview is usually split into two different parts: what happened in the person’s life, and what they have learned throughout it. Often family members are surprised by something in the finished product, and even learn something new themselves. The completed videos also include historical images and footage to help bring the story to life. “You could do it yourself,” Minnick admits, “but it won’t look or sound anything like this.”

Most clients have been the children, or grandchildren of the interview subjects, but there was also a man that wanted to do it for himself, to create his own legacy. It’s a gift that you can give to a parent or grandparent, but it’s also a gift to yourself.

“Maybe not everyone would want to do this,” says Minnick. “Not everyone is a storyteller, but those who are, are honored to be asked.” It’s especially good for entrepreneurs, veterans, immigrants, or anyone with a good story to tell. Jaqui Robinson, whose mother was an interview subject, was thrilled with the account of her mother’s life. “This is something we’re going to treasure now, but even more so in the future,” she said. “What a great way to share our family history and pass it down for generations.”

DVD Cover Front-Ben

Ben Friedman's DVD biography cover art.

Although the finished product is priceless, the cost may seem expensive to some. A way to make it less prohibitive is to share the cost of the video among siblings, cousins, or other family members. Included in the basic package are the initial consultation, 2-hour interview, a professionally edited 60-90 minute documentary, 10 DVD’s, and the inclusion of 50 photos.

Minnick also points out that you don’t have to wait until someone is old to do this. “We can always come back and do an update,” he says. Right now he’s getting a lot of calls to interview people who may not be able to remember enough though, which means their stories could be lost forever. The lesson is — don’t wait until it’s too late.

Legacy Masters is currently partnering up with another company that produces biography-type books for those not as comfortable in front of the camera. Minnick says he’s happy to have found something he really enjoys doing, while giving others the opportunity that he missed out for himself.

“This is something I’ve found that I really love to do, “ he says. “You walk in, you don’t know these people and a few hours later you know them as well as anybody. It’s very rewarding.”

You can learn more about The Legacy Masters, and see sample videos on the website: www.thelegacymasters.com or contact Doug Minnick at dkminnick@yahoo.com. Get a 10% discount if you mention you heard about them on My Daily Find.

Kris Kelley Rivera is a former television news writer and producer, and the mother of two boys. She lives in Studio City.

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Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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