Interviewing Children for Home Movies
Almost everyone these days has a video camera of some kind. We tend to pull them out on holidays, graduations, birthday parties and other special occasions. As a result, all of our videos are of the children blowing out candles and opening gifts. It is much the same thing that happened in the 1970s. In all of the pictures of me as a kid, I am dressed up and doing something special. What about the normal days, when my hair was messed up and I was playing with my food?
To prevent this type of thing from happening to the future generation, it is a great idea to videotape your kids on regular days. You can take out the camera and tape them playing or fighting with each other. You can also take some time to interview them about their lives.
Why Interview Your Kids?
Interviewing your children is a wonderful thing to do for many reasons. It is fun for them, and makes them feel appreciated. But even more important than that, it gives them something to look at later in life to see what they were like as children.
You can interview them in pairs or groups, but it is also a good idea to do some one-on-one interviewing as well. That way you can give your full attention to each child individually. Set the camera up on a tripod or flat surface like a table. Seat the child in a chair, and zoom in and focus, so you have a nice close-up of the child’s face. For the interview, sit across from the child, but out of view of the camera. That way the child will look at you when he is talking, and will forget he is being taped.
Talk to the child about anything that interests her. Ask her about school, her friends, and her favorite toys. Ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. Ask her about her family members, what she thinks of them, and why. Find out what his one wish would be if he could have anything. Ask him what his favorite animals or dinosaurs are. Get her to tell you about the last fun thing you did together or something funny that happened recently. Anything that will get the child talking on his own is a great topic.
How to Ask Questions
When asking questions, do so conversationally. Laugh with the child and make him comfortable. Use as few yes-or-no questions as possible. Instead, say things like, “tell me about the time…” and “what do you think about….” That way you will get longer answers. The length of time for the interview depends upon the child’s age. For a five year old, 15 or 20 minutes is probably the most he can handle. For an eight year old, a half an hour will likely be okay.
If you have an editing system on your computer, edit the piece down to include mostly the child’s answers rather than the things you were asking. Make it into a piece short enough so that the family will want to watch it. You can always save the longer one on another disk too.
Once you have videotaped interviews with your kids, you will be amazed at what a treasure you have created. You will probably want to do one every year. The videos you make will serve as a window into the children’s past for you, for them, and for future generations.