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Top 5 reasons to film your own family history documentary

We love history; in fact legacy and life stories are the foundation of what we do each day here at Long Yarn Films. And when we see stats like Ancestry now having over 3 million subscribers worldwide, it gets us thinking that perhaps we’re not the only ones interested in the old family history documentary!

But it always leaves us with one burning question; “Why settle for a family tree and word document of ancestors when film making is so accessible these days?” Something just feels more natural about having someone tell you about your family history, rather than reading it off a page. It’s the way we’re used to passing on stories and allows us to shape a real narrative.

What is a family history documentary?

First let’s explain what we’re talking about when we say a “family history documentary”. Whether you want to call it a documentary, biography, or life story, the most important part is that the stories are recorded on film. This can be done in an interview format, or just with you talking directly to the camera. The content normally includes:

  1. The factual records of your ancestors and any interesting stories you may know.
  2. Your own life story (you’re part of the family history after all!).

Each of us will have a different idea about which of these two areas we want to focus, but it’s good to try and incorporate both to create a full picture.

family history documentary hands

So let’s look at the Top 5 reasons you should create a filmed family history documentary over just a classic family tree.

1. You can still have your family tree in a film!

There’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Why not have both paper and film? That’s the beauty of film after all. One of the best shots can be having a person show and discuss their family tree on video. It creates a real sense of connection with the people that might otherwise just be names on a list.

2. Your great-grandchildren deserve to know your laugh.

And not just your laugh, but your grimace, wry grin and sense of humour as well. By filming yourself telling the stories of you family, future generations can actually know a little bit of you. Imagine if that old portrait you cherish of your great-grandparent couldn’t actually let your hear their voice and see their mannerisms! Wouldn’t that make it all the more amazing?

3. Because the world is interconnected like it’s never been before.

In the past, the only chance you had to connect with that second cousin twice-removed was at a rare huge family reunion. Now though apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, those same family members are just a click away. By creating a filmed version of your family history, everyone you choose the world over can share it immediately and rewatch it whenever they want.

4. To leave a legacy.

Sure this one might sound a little sentimental, but we’ll stand by it, hankie at the ready. We all carry a set of values and morals with us through life. They matter and it’s normally important to us to impart them to the next generation. But what about the generations that follow? There’s a real sense of legacy in being able to record the little nuggets of wisdom that we’ve toiled for across our lives. And while we could all sit down and write our 300 page memoirs, let’s be honest, it’s probably not going to happen (or necessarily get read). But a quick video that conveys the passion you have for how you’ve lived your life. Well that might just get noticed and maybe make a difference to that great-great-grandchild you’ll never have the chance to meet.

5. To share the little things.

Sure an Ancestry database can tell you if your relatives came across with the first fleet, but it doesn’t document those special names that you and your partner had for each each other. It can’t remember that old tree that you used to sit under whilst at school. By creating a family history documentary, you can share the unique parts of your history that make you more than just a name on a page. You can do what people do best; tell a story so that it’s remembered forever.


If you’re interested in getting some help creating your own life story and/or family history documentary come have a look at our packages and let us help you record your story for the generations to come.

Clinton Moore

Clinton is the Director of Long Yarn Films and loves to spend his time jumping between his two lives as a life story videographer and clincial psychologist. Some might call it a split personality, he calls it the perfect recipe for creating life story videos!

Clinton MooreTop 5 reasons to film your own family history documentary

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