The Future of Looking Back
Celebrating your family, telling your story and documenting your life. In January 2024, Rutland filmmakers Ben Searle and Tony Gray launched ‘I Look Back’, a chance for you to create a 21st century family album, rich in video content with professional production
Would you like to give a friend or loved one the opportunity to make a film about their passion for music, travel, cooking or whatever they choose, and share it with their friends and family? Have you ever wanted to tell your own life story or write a memoir and found it a bit daunting?
How would you like your future family to meet you and hear about your life in your own words, and more fully than photographs alone can ever show? These are questions Rutland filmmakers Ben Searle and Tony Gray are asking anyone who would like to share some of their life experiences and family history with future generations using the latest video album technology.
Imagine opening a family album but it’s not photographs, it’s a high quality, professionally produced video. You turn the page and it’s another video memory and so on. This is the idea which Ben and Tony have been working on.
Tony’s career has previously involved his developing new software and hardware graphics technologies. While Ben, a successful session musician and educator has wide experience of content creation. Both being trumpeters, they met more than 15 years ago playing locally and became firm friends, still performing together today in the Uppingham Jazz & Soul Band.
Alongside music, the two discovered a shared interest in film and video production and, following setting up Rutland Community Ventures in November 2017, they secured Lottery funding to make a film ‘Don’t Drown Our County’ about the building of Rutland Water. The project included interviewing those involved, locating and using archive film footage, and digitising photographs from the early 1970s.
The Don’t Drown Our County exhibit can still be seen at the Rutland County Museum today another video projects followed, including a film marking the 50th anniversary of Rutland Sailing Club which featured in Rutland Pride’s November edition. Tony and Ben then realised that everyone has a personal story which could be told through interviews, photographs and video, and this led to the foundation of another business, Lyndon Media, and the launch of a new product ‘I Look Back.’
“In some ways, I Look Back is a tricky concept to explain,” said Tony, “But you can think of your video album as a sort of time capsule enabling you to tell your family in the future about your life and interests in your own words and voice.
And the subject can be anything from family history, life at work or in sport, to a personal obsession with, say, steam engines! Anything which you’d like your family in the 22nd century to hear and know about you.”
Ben added, “It’s like a time machine taking you into the future, so that through watching the video, your great grandchildren and their children can ‘meet you’ and see who you really are.”
“Of course, looking at your whole life and deciding what to talk about in your video is quite a challenge. Just think about that pile of old photographs and family videos in boxes in the loft! Where do you start? That’s where we come in by providing support to help you get going,” say Tony and Ben.
“Together, we’ll create a storyboard to help you organise your thoughts so that you’re not stuck for words, so you know what you going to talk about, and you’re sure that you cover all the topics which are of most importance to you.”
“This pre-production work then gives us a really clear structure for the interviews which, depending on the amount of content, can involve up to two days’ filming using professional equipment to ensure we capture sharp, clear footage, accurate colour, and high-quality stereo sound. Next, we professionally edit down the several hours of interview footage – plus shots from our drone, old family photos, images, and home video or film clips – into a finished broadcast quality movie of about 45 to 60 minutes.”
“Finally, your movie is uploaded to our secure servers for streaming online and presented to you in a state-of-the-art video album. And the video album is amazing. It can easily be recharged with a simple USB cable, is about the same size as a wedding album or framed photograph and has a bright hi-res screen with speakers.”
“You can then view or share it anywhere, even without an internet connection, and our clients also receive all the footage we’ve taken, including the bloopers – which are often priceless. Every production is by its nature unique and personal, and so is each finished album, that’s the whole point of I Look Back.”
Over the past couple of years, Tony and Ben have worked hard to develop their unique idea and in the face of stiff competition have recently won a prize for innovative new products from the UK Research Institute.
As a result, they can now launch the product and offer clients the opportunity to create their I Look Back video album at an introductory price.
“We’re excited that we can now start offering people the chance to make a personal video documentary using I Look Back,” say Tony and Ben. “Perhaps it’s something you’d want to do yourself. Or perhaps you’d like to give it as a special and unique gift to a loved one or friend. Either way, we love helping people bring their stories to life by producing their own professional documentary to be shared now by loved ones and passed on for future generations to enjoy.”
Find Out More: I Look Back has been created by Tony Gray and Ben Searle, for prices and more information see www.ilookback.co.uk.