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Making History: Adding Humor to Your Video Productions
Posted Nov 9, 2007 Print Version     Page 1of 1

As video historians, we are in the entertainment business. We showcase our work in front of hundreds of guests at an event and hope that the crowd will enjoy our production of someone’s life story. How could they not love what they see on the big screen? We show old photographs of guests who are at the event, interviews of family members, and music that the crowd loves, and we use our editing skills to keep the documentary lively.

That said, there is one element that is missing in most videographers’ work: humor! Try adding some comical elements to your next production. A great video story, laced with just the right touch of humor, will keep your audience on a roller coaster of emotions, laughing and crying as they watch your video craft on the screen.

To fully convey the concept of using humor in video productions, I have prepared six short video clips that showcase some creative video ideas. You can find the clips at www.halslifervideo.com on the Video Gallery page.

Comedy is a great entertainment tool to use as you tell the story of someone’s life. Humor can also be used to address and diffuse a family issue or problem.

When clients come in to speak to me about their history projects, I sometimes have what I like to think of as a short Video Therapy session with them. I ask them if there are any family issues that need to be addressed, especially when people are going to be interviewed about that subject on video.

In one Video Therapy session, I found out that a Bat Mitzvah mother was having her daughter’s party on March 17 so that her Irish family could enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. She was concerned that her husband’s Jewish side of the family might not understand the family connection.

We addressed that issue while showing a history of the Bat Mitzvah girl’s life when we included a funny Woody Allen film clip to highlight the differences between Jewish and Catholic families. By humorously addressing the cultural differences, we bonded the viewing audience of 300 people from both sides of the family. (See Video Gallery Clip One.) [Note: EventDV does not endorse the use of copyrighted music or video/film in event video productions. However, as long as it remains a common industry practice, we will continue to refer to it when relevant until the pertinent issues are resolved—Ed.]

For our Wedding-Day Edits, we find a common video therapy issue is the in-laws. Many times a mother-in-law might be overbearing, and we will lightly touch upon that subject matter by adding in some humorous television clips from Seinfeld or Everybody Loves Raymond. (See Video Gallery Clip Two.)

The audience at a wedding has come to be among friends, have a few drinks, dance, and most of all have fun. By adding humor to the story of the bridal couple, you will sustain the fun environment through the video presentation, and hold the attention of the audience as they get to know how the bride and groom met. (See Video Gallery Clip Three.)

This summer I was inducted into the WEVA Hall of Fame. As part of the ceremony, I was asked to produce a two-minute video highlighting my career. I chose to produce a humorous video that poked fun of my history. By including comedic elements, I was able to entertain the audience of my peers, who could identify with the humor of working in the video business. (See Video Gallery Clip Four.)

There are times we are hired to produce a history of a man or woman who may have been a great parent or a devoted community leader, yet their personal history is flat or dull. This creates a challenge that can be addressed in Photoshop and helps to liven up an honoree’s story.

We will superimpose images of the honoree into pictures of political candidates, sports heroes, and movie stars. A family member will discuss, on the video, in a serious tone, how the honoree had a midlife crisis and decided to take some time off to appear in a Hollywood movie, play ball with the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox, or consult on world matters at the White House. (See Video Gallery Clip Five.)

We live in an extremely stressful world. Our lives are filled with terrorist threats, a recession economy, and the worst stress of all for those in our business: the backlog of wedding videos that need to be completed. Our clients live with this same type of stress. Well, maybe they don’t have wedding backlogs, but they have their own issues to deal with. (See Video Gallery Clip Six.)

When our clients and their guests go to an event, they want to leave the stress of their everyday lives behind them. They want to be entertained.

If you can produce a video that tells the history of the honoree and can allow the audience to laugh with, and not at, the subject’s story, you will become more successful as the go-to video biographer in your market.

When you add humor to your productions, you are adding value to your bottom line, and you are separating yourself from the pack of Video Historians. Spice up your next history production with humor and you will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Hal Slifer is known to his clients as a Video Historian and has produced thousands of family histories for clients throughout New England for more than 25 years. In 2006, he was selected to the EventDV 25, and in 2007, he was inducted into the WEVA Hall of Fame.

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