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HOMEFRONT : Ghosts in the Machine

June 27, 1993|Martin Booe

Your mom told you some great yarns about her wild days in the WAVES. And your dad really was a war hero. Too bad your own kids are so young; they should really hear those stories from the source, not from your own sketchy memories of their accounts.

Well, at least three L.A.-area production companies can ease the burden of history by making video documentaries from senior family members' remembrances of things past.

But one's elders may not gladly suffer confessions on camera. "There's often an initial resistance," says J. Bruce Long of Santa Monica-based Reel Life Stories. "But I simply talk to the person about what a healing experience this will be for them, to have someone devote two hours to helping them tell their own story in a more disciplined, structured way."

Prices start at about $400 for a basic, hourlong video interview. Photo montages, music, editing and additional footage of friends and family will run up the tab.

The result may not be a family version of "A Current Affair," but there may be surprises when the storytelling gets going. "We almost always draw a story out that the family has never heard before," says Ira Heffler of Life Story Video in Studio City.

"Families are so scattered these days," says Phyllis Massing, co-owner of Encino-based Life Stories/A Video Legacy, "and this is a way to give them a sense of continuity."

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