Family History Films, as the title suggests, is all about bringing family histories to life. So why, we've been asked recently, have we launched Corporate Histories?
A good question. Aside from the obvious – one is a person or family and the other a company, society or club, both have more similarities than differences.
Firstly, a company is often regarded as a sort of family where there is usually some sense of belonging, no less so with clubs and societies. It’s easy to imagine the joy one of these films brings to relatives in seeing stories about their forebears and the times they lived in brought to life. Yet any corporate body ignores its people – its staff or membership - at its peril.
Most organisations understand that people are a great, if not their greatest asset, which is why budget is allocated to internal communications as well as to marketing. Of course an organisation’s stakeholders also include its customers and so the story behind the brand is often as important to them as it is to staff.
Secondly, there’s motivation. For example, while a family priority may be to record elderly relatives to capture stories and anecdotes, the same may be true of a retiring founder or long-standing director. Equally, when the main purpose of a family history film is as a gift or to celebrate a special occasion, it is also true that a society or business may want to celebrate an anniversary or other milestone and share that with its staff and customers.
When it comes to actually making these films – and so thirdly – there are wide variations in family preparedness, such as existing research and assets like films, documents, etc. This is why we have a wide network of researchers and historians, not only to discover the stories but also to expand upon established knowledge. In my experience, organisations, including some large multinationals, also have varying degrees of recorded knowledge - some being deficient due to mergers, demergers or just because of other priorities.
Beyond research are the major production elements of storyboard, filming, recording, narration and editing. Not much difference there between a family and an organisation. Both are for private use and not intended for broadcast. A family will share its film with its nearest and dearest while a corporate body will show it to its stakeholders – in other words its family members including both staff and customers.
So whether we are considering the ‘type of family’, motivations or the filmmaking, both family and corporate histories create a legacy for the future. Our films can celebrate the achievements, experiences and historical challenges of a family or an organisation. The common threads are a sense of belonging, of learning, understanding and sometimes providing an answer to that age-old question: who am I and where did I / we come from? It brings joy to families and makes sense of brand loyalty. It’s a very human thing.