DVD Review: Family Famine- Hunger for Love DVD
By: K. Sean Buvala
Storyteller Rachel Hedman has created a DVD set that is a fine meal for those looking to dine on the many ways to enjoy storytelling. Going beyond the basic salt and pepper flavors of storytelling, Rachel collaborates with other artists in her stories to give each course a different seasoning and texture. If you are hungry for a diverse and family-friendly buffet of recorded-live storytelling, then the "Family Famine" DVD is for you.
In Rachelís ground-breaking (more on that in a moment) DVD, she mixes world folktales with her personal family remembrances, throwing in some fun teases and blessings to her family both present at the recording and those who could not be there. Rachel also utilizes the unique skills of other artists, including an electric guitarist who produces sounds you simply need to hear and see performed to appreciate. You will ask yourself, "Did that guitar really just howl?"
Like any first-time project, there are some glitches but none of these will get in your way of enjoying these stories. We would suggest a few shorter pieces to balance the longer tellings. There are times that teachers of story and theater will want to demonstrate good techniques via video and with Rachelís command of story, shorter pieces would make this easier to use. Overall, we are hungry for Rachelís next serving of the "Family Famine" series.
This DVD is safe for families with children of grade-school age and older. With so many cheap DVDs that will just numb your kidsí imaginations, your purchase of the "Family Famine" DVD will be an investment that will engage your children and spark the pictures-in-my-mind thinking you want them to have. For older teens and adults, disk 2 of the series offers a commentary track such as one you would find on any professionally produced DVD.
That concludes the review and our endorsement for the public. From this point, we are talking specifically to other artists.
Let us talk shop for a moment, storytellers. We have been in the storytelling world for nearly 25 years and 12 of those years in working with hundreds of storytellers from all over the world. In our stores, we have seen many storytelling products. Therefore, we want you to know we are qualified to say this about Rachelís DVD: The "Family Famine" (FF) two-disk set is a quantum leap in storytelling products. Every professional storyteller who is developing back-of-the-room products (and every PRO must) should order a copy of Rachelís DVD and use her concept as their blueprint for their own DVD projects. We have seen many DVD works in storytelling and none of them comes close to the breadth and completeness of the FF project.
When we first received the DVD, we immediately knew this was not one of those I-can-do-it-at home projects. Everything about the DVD set screams "professional." You will not find any ink jet printing or off-center labels.
The DVD is also produced with a three-camera shoot with attentive camera operators. Although other leaders, such as Jeff Gere of Hawaii, have for twenty years used three-camera shoots to archive storytelling events, Rachel is one of the few to put such good recordings on to commercially available DVDs.
As an example of the new rules of artist collaboration, Rachel works with other artists who are competent in their fields. Other DVD projects have sometimes suffered from having good storytelling linked with other artists who were not on the same par as the teller.
In addition to the DVD with its full storytelling concert, there is a segment where the invited musicians give a pre-concert concert. On the second DVD in the set, Rachel includes two smart value-adding offerings. First, she utilizes a skilled American Sign Language interpreter to translate her storytelling to ASL. The large gold sticker on the front of the package alerts would-be buyers to this fact. This ASL interpretation opens up the DVD to several new audiences, both hearing and Deaf.
Also on the second disk in the set, Rachel, joined by several other project participants, includes a voice-over running commentary on the concert and its creation. Viewers get some inside scoop on the making of the project and the performance itself. Although the option for commentary has been available since the mid 1980ís, we are unaware of any other storyteller adding this feature on any of their DVDs. There are so few professional DVDs of storytelling available that it is possible that FF is the first storytelling DVD to add such content.
Rachel has told us that there are several things she might do differently for volume two of the FF project. Our simple suggestion is that Rachel could use a collaborative director to give her a fresh perspective on the look of her performances and to assist the camera operators in being ready to capture "the moments" in each story. Even with very small tweaks needed, this FF volume is an exceptional product in the storytelling world. With high-production values, multiple disks, language translation and a stack of features coupled with good stories, the "Family Famine" project, this quantum-leap adventure, should be on every serious storytellerís must-buy list. -Storyteller.net Reviews