With the global COVID-19 pandemic in full force, people needing to hold important life events such as weddings and funerals are looking for solutions. While weddings are mostly being postponed or stripped down to the couple and witnesses only, naming ceremonies are being put on hold and celebratory parties for occasions such as silver or golden wedding anniversaries are being cancelled. Funerals are restricting numbers of mourners to immediate family only. In some cases, mourners are not allowed to pay their respects at the service at all. My heart goes out to anyone who is in any of these stressful situations.
In a nutshell I am a story teller, using words, pictures and moving images. I am a humanist wedding celebrant, a photographer, a writer and a video editor. In addition to my work as a celebrant, I help my husband, Simon run our small photography and video business www.sirastudio.com.
Since the country has been in lockdown, I've been racking my brains to try and think of a different way for people to hold important life events. And I've come up with two options that I really hope will help.
1. Live streaming / videoing your event.
If your wedding coordinator or funeral director or crematorium will allow, it may be possible to record and live stream the ceremony or service to your friends and family. There are several options for live streaming. You can stream the video, using a phone or laptop live to friends and family via a platform such as Facebook Live, Zoom or Google Meet.
One or two online platforms will allow you to record the ceremony. All rely on using your phone or laptop camera unless you have a purpose-built live streaming video camera, and a good wi-fi signal or using 4G from your phone.
If you have a purpose-built live streaming camera like ours, then you film the ceremony in higher quality and can also record it for editing later. With this option, you (or we) can set up a private event on YouTube so that only friends and family (or whoever you choose to send the link) can watch it live at a pre-arranged time. If they are unable to watch it live, they can watch it later on the same platform.
2. Life Stories - Heartwarming Memories
Please click PLAY on this very short one-minute-long clip showing excerpts from a recent memorial video to see the kind of things that can be included in your own special documentary film:
Those who want a completely different option may prefer this brand new idea: Life Stories, In Living Memory. This documentary style short film option is particularly of note as an alternative to a funeral, pre-need funeral or celebration of life memorial. It's like a virtual hug, especially when everyone watches it together at a designated time.
A personal documentary with words, pictures, video clips and memories from friends and relatives is also be a fantastic alternative to a silver or golden wedding anniversary celebration and also as a fabulous audio-visual aid for those suffering memory loss.
How does it work? As a celebrant and with years in the world of script, article and story-writing, I will call or video chat with the closest family and friends to gently and sympathetically draw out fond and factual memories. I can do this singly, or using a video conferencing platform, so that everyone is in the same virtual room. I will also ask close family to send me digital copies of photographs and video files (if any exist) the document their life as much as possible. Photographs in print can be scanned in, or you can use your phone to copy prints.
Friends and relatives can also send photos, video files, text or phone videos of their happy memories. I will use my professional skills to blend stories, memories and information about their life in a bespoke script that will be around 20-30 minutes long. With plenty of experience of delivering ceremonies, I will provide a professional voiceover in my home audio recording studio and will then arrange the photos and the video files to fit the script, aid memories and add colour and warmth.
The end result is a heartwarming documentary film of around 20-30 minutes that can be watched simultaneously or separately by friends and family via a password protected or public link (we can host the videos permanently on our professional online video sharing platform). Or you could set up a watch party by downloading the video file into your cloud based library (such as Google Drive or Dropbox) and view the video all together (albeit in different houses) online.
One of the most difficult things in life to experience is the loss of a loved one. Being unable to hold a final goodbye in the way you would want to is absolutely heartbreaking. Although a documentary style video is never going to replace a physical hug, a truly lovely idea to accompany a group watching session would be for everyone to light a candle before they watch the video - a respectful, symbolic and wonderful way to pay respects, remember and celebrate the life of a loved one. And the great thing is that the film can be enjoyed time and time again, any time you, your family or friends like.
The video file can be delivered online only or in a presentation-boxed memory stick.
3. Life Stories - Documentary video plus your own celebrant
If you are already working with a humanist celebrant, or have already had a funeral or celebration of life memorial ceremony, you or your celebrant can send me your ceremony script and digital photos and video clips and we will create you a beautiful documentary video as above, for a reduced fee.
Please call for details: 07795 112009 / 01423 546440 / firstname.lastname@example.org