My name is Larry Swerdlove. I am a two-time Emmy Award winning writer and director. I started My Family History DVD because of two incidents in my life.
After spending a few years working in television as a writer, director and editor, I became interested in family histories when my parents moved to another country in the 1980’s. I was in my 30’s at the time and only got to see them once or twice a year. I never really had a clear picture of my parents’ backgrounds. Sure I'd heard many stories over the years, but I had forgotten many of them, and didn't really have a clear picture of who my parents were, let alone my grandparents, most of whom had died before I was born. So I decided to interview each of them on a cassette recorder during one of my visits overseas. I spent about 3 hours with each of my parents and had them tell me all about their lives, from the beginning to the present day. Luckily, my parents were both happy to share their family histories - the good times and the bad. I'm sure I could have spent many more hours than I did, recording their stories, but I was grateful for the 6 hours I did sit with them. After this incident, I started a genealogical search to create a family tree - something our family never had.
Then in the early 1990’s, I was up in Vancouver (producing a children’s television series) when I got a frantic phone call from my wife, Cindy. Our area of Los Angeles was being evacuated due to a wild fire that started about 2 blocks from our home. She said she could see the flames from our kitchen window. My mind began to race - what possessions did I own that were worth saving at a time like this? In a moment I had the answer. I told Cindy, "Get the kids in the car. Grab the photo albums, home movies, and the cassette recordings of my parents and get out of there." It wasn't until that moment that I realized that these objects, my family legacy, were the only things I owned that really mattered to me. Everything else was just stuff that could be replaced. Luckily the winds blew in another direction and our neigborhood was spared. But the lesson of that day never left me.
In 2013 I retired from television and moved to Ventura County to begin a new phase in my life. It was then that I started thinking about creating documentary biographies about individuals and families. That's when I decided to create My Family History DVD as part of my video production company, Surprisingly Good Productions.
I love meeting people and learning their life stories. I am passionate about translating these stories into high-quality documentaries reminiscent of Ken Burns documentaries and A&E biographies. I strive to create compelling stories with high production values, similar to what you'd see on a national television program, incorporating interviews, family photos and home movies, archival materials and music of the eras.
I urge everyone to make sure your family stories are captured and saved for the future. If not on video or audio with my company, then as a do-it-yourself project. With today's technology, it's not hard to get these stories on video or audio yourself. And you can always turn to My Family History DVD to assist you in completing your own legacy project.
President - Surprisingly Good Productions