Michael Chèze Productions

Life stories

A priceless gift

One of the most personally rewarding forms of work that I do is to film people's life stories. These are privately commissioned, and intended for viewing by the subjects family and friends - as opposed to a public audience. I call them biographies - and in the sense that I thoughtfully shape and add layers to what becomes the final film this is an accurate description. But to the extent that the person being filmed is the one telling his or her story, in the way that he or she chooses to do, these "biographies" are closer to being autobiographies.

 

I have realised what a powerful and enriching experience it is for people to take time out to tell their life stories. The process of telling their story and then watching the final, edited film, brings new insights, and a perspective that allows them to look at the full sweep of their lives with a sense of celebration - as well as compassion. It is a priceless gift, both

to themselves, and to the people closely connected to them - and, of course, to future generations. It is an opportuntiy to review the meanin of one's life, to "tell it like one wants to", to reveal the laughter, share the wisdom one has gained, and often to heal. It is a chance to affirm relationships and - as I have seen - to renew mutual understanding with loved ones. It is a rich and sensitive honouring of a human life.

My unobtrusive presence as I film, my respect for privacy and quite empathy have the effect of freeing the person telling his or her story, somehow, to express themselves as openly and honestly as they choose. The result is emotionally very satisfying for the storyteller, and moving for those who watch the film when it is complete. The course of each human life, with its ups and downs, and made up of even the most ordinary events, has a unique beauty.

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