In the 2016 article “On What Makes a Movie Rewatchable,” the author has 3 rules of thumb to live by. His tips are great, no doubt. But why should Hollywood be the only ones to create videos that are engaging and timeless?

Here’s each of the article’s 3 guidelines we like to use with our legacy videos. Give them a try with your next home video.


1. “It has to be good enough the first watch.”

This is a given for any movie, but the key to following this rule with a legacy video comes down to the pre-interview. Find out what juicy moments you want to be sure to capture on video beforehand, so you can budget in time for those questions when you’re filming your subject. Personally, I don’t like my interviewees to over-prepare for an interview. This can drain all the passion from their responses when they answer the questions, because it can be easy for them to just go into autopilot or, worse, to feel compelled to read word-for-word from a piece of paper that has all their responses written out. Boring!

To prevent having a subject come across rehearsed and scripted, I prefer to work with a family member who can help me select the best questions before the day of the interview. And I never show the subject the questions. If they really want to know, I give them a general idea of the topics we’ll delve into without telling them the specific questions.


2. “Ambiguity & complexity.”

These are excellent tips for creating “lean forward” moments throughout the length of a movie. To create the same effect in a legacy video, don’t give everything away all at once. Allow for some mystery and ambiguity so the story can steadily build over time. This helps foster curiosity in the viewer so he or she is more eager to find out what happens next.

Smartly-produced movies and TV shows are often written so the audience is forced to discover new information over a period of time. Don’t fall into the trap of the cheesy movie cliche where the villain explains everything in excruciating detail. Good stories don’t unfold like that in real life.


3. “Quotability.”

Our favorite movies often have lines of dialogue that we can’t help quoting. But how do we infuse that same degree of passion and excitement into a legacy video interview? I mean, a feature film has entertainment value and professional actors who get paid millions of dollars.

Well, I believe we can infuse our home movies with equally quote-worthy moments.

To allow a subject’s thoughts to come across as memorable soundbites, as if they were read by the star of a Hollywood movie, let interview responses breathe. Give your video quotes a break!

When editing a legacy video, be careful not to have nonstop talking from start to finish. Allow some of those notable soundbites to stand out with a break in dialogue so the music can swell and the visuals, sounds, and/or music can tell the story on their own.

The best time to think about capturing these quotable moments is during filming.

If the interviewee is caught up in her train of thought, it could be tough for her to take these breaks naturally. As a director, you can help them to focus on these important highlights.

During the interview, when you hear a good soundbite, make a note of it. Then, when the current question is finished being answered, ask your subject to repeat that soundbite with a few seconds of silence before and after it’s spoken.