I’m playing catch up with a blog article I’ve been meaning to write for months now, so please bear with me as I take you back to…
Just before Christmas (!) I had my ten minute presentation slot at Gloucestershire Independent Network ~ a great not~for~profit business networking group where I have been a member for the last few months. The link to their page is live, but at the time of writing the site is being tweaked. If you run a business in Gloucestershire, I’d highly recommend coming along as a guest some time!
Every week, part of the format is that each member gets to pitch their business for 60 seconds ~ and every week one member gets a 10 minute slot to talk about their business in a bit more depth. Given the extremely visual nature of what I do, and the fact that my services are so unusual, the opportunity for an extended presentation was fantastic.
Thanks to a kind fellow member, we got together a few weeks before and made a short film about his life. I figured that if I was going to show an example of my work to people, it would have greater resonance if they actually knew the individual on whom the film was based.
The other thing I did (because hey, it was Christmas!) was to get my friend Kath from Cup Cake Yourself to print my company logo (edible) onto some of her truly yummy cup cakes (om nom nom nom), so I could place them around the breakfast tables. The idea struck me not because I was trying to “sweeten people up”, but because there was a rather specific point I was making about the nature of the films I create with my clients. Also, as the chef Heston Blumenthal has put it, “eating is a multi-modal process” ~ so my aim was to try and convey the spirit of my work in a way that didn’t just connect with the film, but through other senses too.
Now, I want to write that the great thing about cakes is they are celebration food ~ used to mark special events in peoples lives. However, the reality for many people (myself included), is that any excuse will do! After all, I think it is well worth celebrating every morning, with cake, the fact that the sun has risen and I still have a pulse! Personally I blame that Mr Kipling for eroding some of the symbolism of the cake and making it possible for its consumption to become a daily event…perhaps even a sport for some!
Cakes are really special though ~ traditionally they are used to mark important personal transitions in life such as weddings, christenings, birthdays, retirement, and reunions etc; but also important cultural events such as Christmas and Easter (if you’ll excuse the ethnocentrism!)
These transitions and events are kind of obvious reasons for tucking into a slice or four of cake, but here’s a curve-ball for you: several years ago, I made a short documentary on a gentleman who owned a cake shop in Swansea. He was a really interesting man who had actually made the wedding cake for Prince Charles and Lady Diana ~ and I was fortunate enough to see the photographs he had taken throughout the process of making the cake!
During the filming though, he showed me a picture of an elaborate black ‘wedding’ cake that was actually a divorce cake! Apparently the couple who were going their separate ways were doing so on very amicable terms ~ they felt more like brother and sister ~ so they decided to throw a divorce party together! I still think this was a fantastic idea ~ after all divorce really is a major transition ~ and more often than not a very painful and bitter one ~ so hats off to them for keeping it from going sour and having a sweet cake for a sweet separation!
The great thing about blogs is that you get to read mindless banter for free ~ so I won’t apologize for the random tangents I go off on, BUT (well done if you’ve made it this far), back to my original point…
Like cakes, the LifeBooth films are a celebration of life and living ~ in some ways it is the nostalgic look back to the actual experience of these periods of transition that make the films so special. People don’t talk about every single birthday they had of course, but they do spend time talking about such things as when they saw the person they ended up marrying and that feeling on the aisle, and when they held their first child with the plethora of heart-melting moments that follow on from that. These are the transitions in life that are important and that other people can become inescapably invested in.
To labour this point in a bit of a blunt way ~ you wouldn’t exist if your mum and dad hadn’t met. Neither, perhaps, would you exist if there hadn’t been a power cut that night in 1965 (I know that’s a long shot!). Either way, regardless of the point in time you were born, their history is your history, and together those histories are relevant to your own children too if you have them. This is why I am passionate about what I do ~ because through celebrating the life of one person with film, a tangible point of reference is created which connects the past to the present, and also the future.
And that’s the whole point about cakes and the LifeBooth films. Cakes are cultural markers for celebrating symbolic events that are personally and culturally important. They mark key moments as time passes, and within our culture, these moments are regarded as being significant and worth celebrating. Cakes are all about focusing happy unity through the symbolic chomping of lovely grub!
Whilst a LifeBooth Biography does not just have to be for someone who has hit a landmark birthday etc, they do connect with the idea that people move through their lives creating their story as they go ~ and this story is deeply connected to the stories of others. This is why, just like when the cakes are out at an event, family and friends gather together to watch the first screenings of the LifeBooth films ~ and quite often, there’s a big wheel of cake on hand too.