Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.

 -Studs Terkel


Our lives unfold chapter by chapter until in the end, they are compilations of experiences – lessons learned and invaluable gifts to pass on to members of family and to family still to come. To friends as well – to those who already know you – and to those who might get to know you one day through the advice they receive when learning about your individual experiences. You never know, you might some day become their “friend in need” their – “friend indeed”.

Your individual life story is worth telling. It is your legacy and should never be underestimated. Plus, it is entirely original because it is yours. It is your testimony to your participation and creative contribution to your life – a record of your own adventures, joy, love and pain. A biography can also contain examples of your forbearance during difficult times and this might help others too when they are faced with problems. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard observed: “Life is only understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.” Your life and its many unfolding scenes, is a documentary movie and valuable if you communicate your story effectively – looking backwards to help you and others move forwards.

The question is, just where do you begin? Too many people talk about putting their story together one day but don’t because even if they actually begin to do so, a developing sense of just how long it will take them to complete, prevents them from moving forward. Also, they begin to lose a sense of their own plot – their own story. Film biographies, need to be interesting – compelling to watch for the intended audience. Valuable lessons that you hope to leave behind are important and so it is a good idea to capture them in a professional, well executed manner out of respect for viewers – whether they happen to be family or friends.

We never know when our own story might end and thus procrastination should never be an option. It is of vital importance to capture our life stories now because if not now, then when? As British playwright James Alberry said: “He lived a life of going-to-do, and died with nothing done”.

Phoenix-based, award-winning filmmaker, photographer and musician Eric Cosh ( produces film biographies and family histories. He believes in the importance of documenting the life-stories of people. “Everybody,” he says, “has a unique story.” I interviewed Eric recently about his life as a musician – a member of the famous New Christy Minstrels – and about his life presently, as a filmmaker:

Ellen: If you had all the choices in the world, Eric, with regard to what you would presently be doing, what would it be and why?

Eric: I really believe it would be recording moments, whether as stills, movies, or stories. Life can’t get any better than that as far as I am concerned. If money wasn’t an object for getting through life, I would still do what I’m doing, except, I’d be able to choose the subjects that I really feel are worthwhile and helpful to people.

Ellen: What is it about filming biographies that fascinate you?