NPR logo

Personal Video Biographies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1626120/1626490" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Personal Video Biographies

Personal Video Biographies

Family Memories Get the Look of a Professional Documentary

Personal Video Biographies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1626120/1626490" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dorothy Barrett, center, and her husband James and daughter Debbie. At the Barretts' request, Greg Farnese and Laurie Appel made a documentary about Dorothy, who had Alzheimer's. Farnese Personal Television Biographers hide caption

toggle caption
Farnese Personal Television Biographers

When Greg Farnese and Laurie Appel aren't doing their day jobs — he's a cameraman at Philadelphia sport events, she's a clinical psychologist — they are working in a new niche of the video market. The Swedesboro, N.J. couple produce 20-minute documentary biographies of ordinary Americans.

The customer provides still photos and home videos, if they exist, and a list of people to interview. Laurie does the interviewing and writing, and Greg edits the video on his home computer and narrates. The price, which averages around $8,000, varies according to the number of interviews and locations.

The result: a present for the living, a memorial for the dying — and a personal possession that wouldn't look out of place on many cable channels. NPR's Robert Siegel, host of All Things Considered, takes a look at the "professional" home video trend.