Use of filmmaking to tell the story of one man’s family history

filmandvideo-use of_filmmaking_to_tell_the_story_of_one_mans_family_historyYou have done your family research and have gathered together numerous documents, photographs, and other media. You now have so many wonderful insights into the life and times of a family member or a family branch. What now? This information sheds such a bright light on your family history that it cannot be simply filed away. How can this information be brought together to tell the story that must be told?  How can this information be shared with the current and future generations of your family so they can understand and appreciate their heritage? How do you do justice to the information that has great interest beyond those in your family tree and is of great historical significance? Have you ever considered filmmaking?


One man, Peter Vanlaw, managed to do just that. By utilising both his filmmaking skills and that of a film industry friend, together they managed to bring together Peter’s amazing family story by way of a documentary.


For a family history that was at one time ‘covered up’, the documentary brings together the life and times of Peter, his parents, extended family and the world around them. From family secrets, unknown relatives, the challenges of a mother’s mental illness and the torment of a family deeply affected by the Holocaust, the documentary has it all. And so it must be remembered, this is a real life story!


Peter’s documentary ‘For the Life of Me’ is a piece of history, not only for his family, but the community at large. A priceless recording of family history cum family treasure; of world history cum world treasure. An exercise in filmmaking with a real purpose and so a big thank-you must go out to Peter for sharing this story.


For anyone contemplating compiling their own documentary from treasured family photographs, video’s and the like, ‘For the Life of Me’ is a fantastic example of effective media compilation and storytelling about a real life family and the trials and tribulations it experienced over a century of time.


For more information about the documentary or to see an excerpt, visit Peter’s website at

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