Celebration of Life Event

If you follow us on Facebook (www.fb.com/MovieMe) you would have seen a few photos posted from the Celebration of Life event we attended and participated in last weekend. We received a phone call three months ago from a man who had just lost his wife to pancreatic cancer a few months earlier. The lead came in from our friends at http://www.NostalgicMedia.com. The client expressed how he wanted to honor his wife’s requests of having more of a Celebration of her Life event than just a funeral. When this gentleman, Bob Harrison, called, he had already written a 60 page memoir, which included her journal notes over the years. He wanted to know if we could merge the memoir with photos, a couple video clips, and music to share at this Celebration of Life event. In order to compare visions, I prepared a sample of what we had discussed. I chose some of the quotes in the memoir, blended it with the right kind of music and had the voice overs done in both male and female. Up until this point, none of my previous clients had included narration. It added a special touch both reliving and retelling all the special stories they had shared together.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was new to the narration and was grateful to have hired a wonderful actor, Tom Clark – http://www.actorboy.biz to be the male voice, as well as, offer guidance on audio equipment.  After narrowing down the script to follow the photos, we changed the script to read in third person. In a few sections, I read the exact journal quotes of his late wife, Diane Harrison. The ‘movie’ ended up being 30 minutes, which initially seemed too long but the narration told a story. We sprinkled it with video clips, graphic motion clips and frequent song changes all helping to keep it interesting. Bob’s hope was to tell the story about an incredible life lived between two people, who loved each other for 46 years. He did just that…as well as, his sons who contributed to the night’s events with reading a letter written by his mother to his daughter, her granddaughter. And the other son, who performs in NYC with showing the ending to one of his musical plays, Tommy.

Pulling this event all together was no easy feat but if there was someone who paid attention to every single detail, it was Bob. He was very thorough and covered all the bases. He also chose vendors who made the night a success. The venue was held at Country Club of the South. They supported the event with their expertise and experience and recommended  Spectrum Entertainment for the AV equipment needs. The venue was beautiful, both inside and out. It helped that North Georgia was experiencing some perfect Spring weather that evening. Spectrum Entertainment made sure all their equipment was there ahead of time and showed up early to walk through final staging. The “D.J.” for the evening was very kind at making sure sound and lighting was perfect. It was a pleasure to work alongside both these vendors.

The evening started with a reception held in the bar area. We put a short looped ‘movie’ in the bar area of pictures that highlighted their years together with their two boys, now young men. Folks then moved into the dining room to sit down. While some tables waited to go into the buffet line, Bob had placed postcards at the tables. These postcards were found after Diane’s mom had passed away. Her mom had saved all the postcards, since 1964. Bob had them reproduced at Kinko’s so everyone could share and read Diane’s thoughts and see her handwriting. Very nice original touch in sharing memories.

Shortly after dinner, the Narrated ‘Movie’ started. It told the story of when Diane was born and took you through their marriage, their sons, their travels, and time together. This media age has taken us to such a visual level, we almost come to expect a “60 minutes” version type of story telling. I was very nervous before the ‘movie’ began for simple reasons – what if the sound isn’t right or what if the DVD doesn’t work (I had 5 back up copies with me! haha) or just what if… It is one thing to build a ‘movie’ for a client and send them the DVD. It is a whole other feeling when you are sitting in a room with +150 people watching your work. I was very honored to have been a part of this Celebration of Diane’s Life and I can only imagine how proud she would have been of her “Bo.” At the end of the evening, everyone stood up and gave Bob and his sons a standing ovation…you could feel the love bursting at the seams.

Have you attended a Celebration of Life event? If so, what was your experience?

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