Stories over the telephone

Woman Talking on the Phone

Are you thinking about commissioning a Spoken Portrait for someone who may be self-isolating at home? Perhaps you know someone who is planning a wedding or special birthday party but guests may not be able to come because of movement restrictions. A telephone-based Spoken Portrait or Audio Tribute is a great way to capture their stories. Here’s an example of how it works, from a few years ago. If the idea appeals and you’d like to find our more, we’d love to hear from you. You’ll find our contact details at the bottom of the page.

I was asked to produce an Audio Tribute to a very special mother for her eightieth birthday. Her children were planning a surprise party and the idea was to present a This Is Your Life style collection of memories told by her oldest friends and family. The problem was that there was neither the time nor the budget for me to interview everyone face-to-face as they were based all over England, in Sweden and even in the USA. The solution, however, was simple: we did the whole thing by telephone.

It was all very straightforward. Her son put me in touch with everyone and explained what we were planning. I arranged a time to ring each of them — nine people in all. I recorded the calls and then edited the material into a feature that her children played to her on the big day. I’m told there wasn’t a dry eye in the room!

The full 18 minute feature included stories spanning 80 years woven together in chronological order, and intercut with music sung by one of the interviewees and his band. Here are a few of the most touching tributes including one recorded over the landline to Arizona.

Since we first posted this, we have also produced Spoken Portraits and Audio Tributes based on internet interviews: a great technique for the more tech savvy. Read about one of the Audio Tributes we produced purely from internet interviews, and listen to excerpts.