“We only have one father and one mother, so chances are, that when you go through this experience, it’s the first time. It’s normal not to understand what to do or who to trust, but I want my home care agency to be the place where people can go for answers.”
I always knew that documenting my father’s legacy was a powerful way to share our family values and history with generations to come. But what I didn’t know was just how to go about documenting or shaping that legacy. I hadn’t given much thought to recording my father’s stories or safeguarding important family artifacts before he passed away eight years ago. However, in the wake of his death, I had a strong desire to document his stories about growing up during the Depression and serving in WWII. I didn’t doubt the value of his legacy — the question was how to make his life and his legacy come alive?[After doing a bit of research] I reached out to Guy Silagi, a visual storyteller who specializes in creating biographical videos. Guy’s videos are really mini-documentaries that capture the arc of a family’s history or the essence of a person’s life. Before scheduling a shoot, I met with Guy to discuss my vision for the video. He offered invaluable feedback, and we decided that filming my sister and I having casual conversation would be most the effective way to bring our father to life.
Next, my sister and I brainstormed the stories and memories we knew we wanted to share on camera. We even reached out to extended family members who offered their own fond memories. Then we gathered old photos and family artifacts, such as our grandfather’s naturalization papers, that would give our story a compelling visual element.
When it came time to film, we were prepared. Guy is a true professional, and the relaxed studio setting helped our conversation flow naturally and authentically. But the real magic happened in the editing room. Guy wove our conversation and family photos with images of Ellis Island, Wrigley Field and Maxwell Street — locations that figured prominently in our father’s story. These elements enhanced our personal story, and illustrated how our family legacy intersected with the history of Chicago and beyond.