Creative Enterprise Project – This Is My Life
At the beginning of this academic year my grandmother died unexpectedly. It was during this time of grief that I realised there was no recording of Granny’s life. However at the funeral so many people recounted stories showing how popular she was and what an eventful life she had led.
The funeral coincided with me gathering my thoughts for the Business Module at University. I began to think on this and I realised that there was a gap in the market. Where do you go to have a testimonial or a biography of some one’s life? What if this was created in a person’s lifetime, rather than posthumously?
In concluding my initial research, I found that no one was providing anything similar. I researched further by talking to funeral directors, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4Mlh1QVNkSGZxYms/view?usp=sharing churches https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/folderview?id=0BygEuppw_QO4fmUwdEpvdHpTMk5sS0JWR2w3M0tudlNXSnctbHpVZ3BDZFF4YWNqS3RDYTQ&usp=sharing as well as the general public. I asked them as to what “testimonial / eulogy” service they would think their clients would require. I also researched whether such a multi media service could be played in church / crematorium settings. I used this information to develop my business plan.
I attended several business seminars to give myself a good grounding in business knowledge, including seminars on: Making your own career, being your own boss, how to plan a freelance business model, social media, how to start up a small business, financial and legal basics for start ups and marketing. I used the information from these to strategise how to bring the business to life. https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4RkdPLThEaHZtXzQ/view?usp=sharing
The Name & Logo
I wanted a name that was both easy to remember but also conveyed the idea of a celebratory biography. My Dad told me of a popular TV programme hosted by Michael Aspel with a famous red book: This is Your Life” A person’s life was portrayed by friends, family, colleagues using interviews and photographs. People of a certain age would remember the programme and the red book with fond affection.
Because my plan involved recording the subject live, I substituted Your with My. Hence This is My Life.
I had thought of mixing the image of the red book with a film reel https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4YlZVdjJLMmVxbGc/view?usp=sharing – but it looked too cheesy! What image speaks of a life well lived; longevity; non gender; positive, celebratory. I thought of an oak tree. In my research, I came across a simple tree that had a carefree and fresh look about it, and the trunk and branches resembled a person celebrating. https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4RGY5VmpsUHZWRFE/view?usp=sharing
Being a non-business student, I researched at how best to lay out a business plan. I looked at what information would a prospective investor / lender look for. I came across several models including Business Link. However, the format I liked the best, and most easy to understand is that used by the Princes Trust. It was a good model and it guided my research. https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4Y0labzFPWEQ2bWs/view?usp=sharing
I consulted with a Chartered Accountant as to how to construct a meaningful and realistic Profit & Loss Forecast and a Cashflow Forecast. This exercise made me delve into the basic building blocks of what my business would look like and the resources required to start, develop and expand. It threw up a lot of questions and points to consider:
- Limited Company or sole trade?
- Employed staff (Employers responsibilities & costs etc) or subcontract staff that could flex with the business.
It also helped me formulate my thoughts on whether the business should start off as a local business before going down a franchise route. I also considered the whole Internet side of the business including creating a template so that people could upload all their contributions and photos into a standard template.
I costed up my direct variable costs, the DVD Presentation cases and my overheads. I also costed out all the capital equipment I would require, differentiating between must buy and I know someone who . . .
The business plan took a long time to write but it was such a worthwhile exercise. Upon submitting this first draft to the University, it was suggested that I enter the This is My Life business plan into the Business Competition at Bath Spa University. To my surprise, I passed the first stage of the business competition in spite of being in a field of current and past Business students. https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4WHRVNFA5MkY3a00/view?usp=sharing
The Business Competition
I was given feedback from Dave Jarman https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4V2VIRkhmTC1tTVE/view?usp=sharing I reviewed this and used the pointers to enhance my presentation adding in those things that were lacking. I made clear in my presentation giving my presentation and the panel a coherent detailed vision of ‘This is My Life” I had supporting evidence for this presentation,https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4V1FRRFI4X2NJb00/view?usp=sharing including a brochure, https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4S2JsZDlPSWZFc3c/view?usp=sharing facts, https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4dWVDSW5yWE9sS1E/view?usp=sharing and a demonstration video https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4UTRiSVlVaHZJLWs/view?usp=sharing. I practiced in front of Sue Hawkey. She responded that it was too formal and therefore she lost interest, and she gave me the tip that I should make it more conversational whilst remaining to get across all my main points. This should be done by summing up each paragraph with a buzzword to the side of it, and then to naturally convey the buzzword. Although I found this technique difficult as I felt it put me under a lot of pressure, not having a mind blank really paid off when I spoke about This is My Life process. Conveying this conversationally to the panel aided with my clarification. https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4R2dBeXdYUVdmcWM/view?usp=sharing I feel I spoke clearly, and articulated the business well when asked questions. At the awards ceremony I met the other candidates, many were older than me with a background in business. When I was announced the winner I went into shock, but can honestly say it is one of my greatest achievements in life so far. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4R2NWM3daMlNGUWM/view?usp=sharing
Making my first Biographical film
The only real way to know if this business had any legs was to actually produce it. I was put in touch with a few potential subjects: A terminally ill man, an old man, someone who would commission a film for their mother. I felt for a first time I needed to pick my subject carefully, – someone with whom I could really explore the process. I chose to make a film on my own father, Gerald. He fits the demographic as he is celebrating a big birthday in the coming year – so this film could be an example to potential clients of the same demographic.
I followed my process with my father, having an initial consultation with him about what he wanted from the film. https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4N0tvcU00WjBsWGc/view?usp=sharing He immediately broke away from my original thought process and decided to script his own life, instead of being prompted by interview questions. He said that he would be unable to think on his feet and respond to such important questions quickly. He said he’d fumble and the prospect intimidated him.
I gave him pointers as to the main headings, and to pick on a principal memory of each major season of his life. I found that this technique made for an automatically structured film, which was incredibly helpful. I found however, that Gerald tend to read off his notes and on occasion the speech would tail off as he looked down – which really effected the footage.
When interviewing my mother and brother as contributors to the video, I had given each of them a tailor made questionnaire to think about and conversationally interviewed them for their recordings. https://docs.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/document/d/1_8CvMrowUf72MkFPfKFc2uRyzc2Io1hUj3-UIruoNLA/edit?usp=sharing I got a lot more emotional responses, with pauses for thought, the big problem I found was that there was a lot of waffling in their responses. I have found that it is my job as director to coach the interviewees in their responses – but it’s certainly a challenge to control the outcome. This style of filming, of self narrative interjected with comments and stories proved very effective, and I would definitely consider using this approach again for an extended version next time. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1mEtXzr0pBzNyltb87MwgI4rbb3KBtdaKrtOPa5ZrCGs&authuser=0
A huge learning curve for myself was that people must no have a say in the edit. Gerald and Lin would want certain aspects included, and after the rough cut the film was nearly 40 minutes in length which was too long and made it drag. I spoke to Mark Buchanan – a business videographer – who said if it doesn’t drive the story forward, cut it. And so I went back to my rough edit and meticulously cut the more inconsequential dialogue. It was great advice and I managed to get the edit down to 20 minutes. When I watched it back the pace was much faster. I showed it to trial audiences: to friends and family, including those who had no personal relationship with Gerald the subject whereby I gauged their response. Their interest was held throughout and responses were very positive. https://docs.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/document/d/1yW9qlIX267Fe7OQXp60isR-iv_r_sompy46mo8tjX60/edit?usp=sharing
Gathering the pictures was found to be an emotional experience for the family, as Gerald looked back over his life, but we did find some real corkers!! https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4eXpIQW9wT0VqejA/view?usp=sharing I found that the more pictures and memorabilia you have the better as it makes for a smoother finish to the film as it can hide the sharp edits. One challenge is that digital media has only come of age in the last 10 years. Previously, photos were printed out in various sizes; stored as slides and less accessible; and video footage on tapes whereby the technology to view them is not so easy to come by.
I’ve learnt that we aren’t always the best person to narrate our own life stories as we only ever experience life from our own perspective. For example, with over an hour’s footage of Gerald describing himself, he never once mentioned his creativity, something, which I think, is integral to his character. That’s why having others contribute to the video is so valuable. It was fortunate that I know my father personally, but I would never have this advantage with other clients. Smart interviewing and questionnaires is going to be key.
To view the final film: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4WHRTb2xJbFAyeE0&authuser=0
To view the promotional film: https://practicaleyes.wistia.com/medias/fva3vzgaip
Appendices and Reference Media
In chronological order:
My business plan: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4WHRVNFA5MkY3a00&authuser=0
The Princes Trust: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4Y0labzFPWEQ2bWs&authuser=0
Questions about the business: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4WnJhOHVYUkpfQnc&authuser=0
Feedback from Dave Jarman: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4V2VIRkhmTC1tTVE&authuser=0
Interview with Clarks funeral directors: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4Mlh1QVNkSGZxYms&authuser=0
Correspondance with churches: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4fmUwdEpvdHpTMk5sS0JWR2w3M0tudlNXSnctbHpVZ3BDZFF4YWNqS3RDYTQ&authuser=0
Funeral directors and correspondance: https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/folderview?id=0BygEuppw_QO4fmwtbjRPWk1nMXY5VnNTV1hobHRINzdyTG5pZTB4MVFiU29OTjl5aDlxSXc&usp=sharing
Watertight marketing notes: https://docs.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/document/d/1xBVZaSZGeoeE6JJZBAICfke0q36a_Fk6Sf8t88XEyuQ/edit?usp=sharing
Seminars attended: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4RkdPLThEaHZtXzQ&authuser=0
Initial idea for logo: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4YlZVdjJLMmVxbGc&authuser=0
Website domain options: https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4WXlZbnR3SDlvbmM/view?usp=sharing
Demo film for competition: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4UTRiSVlVaHZJLWs&authuser=0
My business presentation: https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4Q205Vy1rYUgxcEk/view?usp=sharing
Presentation with Buzz words: https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4R2dBeXdYUVdmcWM/view?usp=sharing
Powerpoint presentation: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4V1FRRFI4X2NJb00&authuser=0
Winning photograph: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4R2NWM3daMlNGUWM&authuser=0
Consultation with Gerald: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4N0tvcU00WjBsWGc&authuser=0
Journal of a contributor: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1mEtXzr0pBzNyltb87MwgI4rbb3KBtdaKrtOPa5ZrCGs&authuser=0
Journal of a client: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BygEuppw_QO4cFR4SFdsYmktaDA&authuser=0
Picture from promo 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4TGVicDc2ZEsxc0U/view?usp=sharing
Picture from promo 2 – Autocue: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4dE9CR21mUnJ5YzA/view?usp=sharing
Promotional video: https://practicaleyes.wistia.com/medias/fva3vzgaip
Promo video – opening credits: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4Ri1ua05Od2prWjg/view?usp=sharing
Promo video – end credits: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4VVVmTFZfWEYxMmM/view?usp=sharing
Strengths and weaknesses: https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0BygEuppw_QO4dHdoN1R0WkFGY1E/view?usp=sharing