Music and Your Memories

Have you ever noticed that when you think back on moments of your life, there always seems to be a soundtrack? While driving in your car, a song will play and you are instantly transported to your freshman year of college, your parents' living room, or your favorite childhood vacation spot...

The connection between music and memory is powerful, both in recalling memories and in cementing them.  Music is also deeply connected to emotion.  So often there are feelings that we can't express in words, but images and music help us to capture those feelings and hold onto them.

That's why we take our time in choosing the right music for our Portraits that Move videos, the soundtracks for the moments of your lives that our films help to cement and celebrate.  When we choose your music during our production process, we do so with the images and emotions of your film shoot fresh in our minds and our hearts.  We select unique music that helps to tell your story in a way that is all your own.

Yes, it costs more to get licensing for the music we use, but we know that it is absolutely worth it, for a few reasons.  First, as artists, we support artists.  Composers truly make something out of nothing - they create songs out of silence - and they most certainly need to be compensated when their work is used.  Second, your unique films deserve their own unique scores.  This is your family, your joy, and it is our job to help bring it to the screen in all its glory, complete with the soundtrack of this moment in your life.

If you have more questions about the music in our films, or the production process, pop them into the comments below, or reach out on Facebook.  We love to talk about what we do and to share it with you!

The Small Moments are Powerful - Get to Know the Portraits that Move Baby Video

A few weeks ago when we announced that the Portraits that Move team added documentary style baby videos to our family video products, we were thrilled to see the excitement from families and were energized by your enthusiasm for our work.

Since launching our baby video product we have met wonderful families and been able to experience the beauty and the joy that come with adding a new person to the world.  And that was certainly the case in the baby video we created for Ramona and her family. 


We loved watching the pure joy of Ramona exploring her world around her.  It is incredible to capture her parents talking about Baby Ramona and discussing their hopes and dreams for her.  When we create baby videos, we are so aware of how much babies change and how much it means to document this moment, the core vision of our company in action.

With infants, the small moments are powerful - watching them walk, eat, smile, explore.  As filmmakers, creating baby videos brings us back to our basic gratitude for what we can do and also how amazing life is.

We invite you to take in this moment with us.  Enjoy the video of Ramona as she explores her world.  For me, nothing compares to the moment she is exploring the snow.  What a gift to be reminded of this simple pleasure, of its newness and of the hopeful anticipation that surrounds it - and her.

A Curious Mind - Lessons from a Filmmaker, Inspiration for Parents

I recently read a new book, written by the extraordinary producer, Brian Grazer, entitled A CURIOUS MIND, THE SECRET TO A BIGGER LIFE.  Brian is an incredibly successful producer and the force behind such projects as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and most recently, the hit television show, Empire. He owns his company, Imagine Entertainment with director Ron Howard.

Brian Grazer Photo: IMDB

Brian Grazer Photo: IMDB

I have followed Brian’s career for a long time because, as a film producer I am always fascinated by what makes another producer successful. What propels him or her forward?  How do they work best? How do they identify projects and decide to create them or not?  Brian is known in the industry to be hard working, affable and extremely fun to work with.

And now, after reading his book, I understand why.

Photo: Amazon

Photo: Amazon

In A Curious Mind, Brian makes the point that it is the trait of curiosity that creates more success, bigger wins and closer relationships. He offers that the act of asking questions at every juncture brings us closer to our own truths and to those that we are close to.  I couldn’t agree more.

In fact, I think I was drawn to this book because I innately understood that curiosity is the thing that keeps us young - and relatable to our children. Curiosity opens doors in our communication with our kids. When our children are asking us why a million times (while it can sometimes be annoying) it is an opportunity to get to the bottom of what they are trying to understand. And to, in turn, understand them. 

What are they curious about? What moves them? How does their line of thinking work?

It is clear that asking questions of others sets the stage for more truths. It shows that we are interested, engaged and present; all things that our children need us to be.  In honor of Brian Grazer and his book, I offer up a challenge to you. Can you come up with 5 things that you are curious about your children?

Ask them, go deeper, get closer.  And tell us about it!

Here are a few curiosities of mine, conversation starters that we use at Portraits that Move when filming documentaries for families.  Use these as jumping off points, and keep your kids talking.  You - and they - will benefit from it greatly. 

How does it feel for you when you sing?
Do you like the beach or the forest better and why?

What is your favorite summer frozen treat? What do you like about it?
What is your deepest wish?

Curiosity is a core value at Portraits That Move. One that keeps us working hard to meet more kids, to understand them, who they are and all the reasons we celebrate them. 

How My Role as Film Producer Trained Me for Motherhood

I was 36 years old when I had my son. I always knew I wanted children, ideally, lots of them. I babysat at a young age, taught at camps and felt energetic and excited whenever I had the chance to be in the presence of children.

I spent my twenties and thirties building my career. I love my work and I always have. I am driven and passionate about being a filmmaker. I have been lucky enough to have worked on incredible projects, with talented, inspiring people.

By the time I was 36 I had been on the team of four narrative, theatrical films and I had produced documentaries for PBS, MSNBC, Ovation TV, Court TV, IFC and other networks. I had won a producing fellowship at Sundance, had produced countless corporate videos and commercials and had several big projects in development.

I was so invested in my work that I took on the production of a documentary, Close-Up Photographers at Work, 8 weeks before my son was due and it aired 4 days before his due date. I loved that project and thankfully, my son was patient.  He arrived two days late, so I had a couple days of downtime before he arrived. I think he and I were always in sync - even then.

newborn baby lessons motherhood and family documentary filmmaking

As all parents know, once my son was born, my world got turned upside-down. I fell madly, deeply in love with him and at the same time, I felt incredibly panicked about how out of control my life seemed.

I wanted to be with him all the time, yet I felt pulled back to my work. Ultimately, I found an amazing balance and it worked out beautifully for both of us.

And as both my son and I grew, I realized that being a producer is excellent training for becoming a parent. As a producer you need to do the following things, all of which prepare you for the challenges and responsibilities of parenting:

You plan everything   

A well thought out schedule is the backbone of any good production. As a parent, planning and structure are important. Children thrive when there is a rhythm and a familiarity to their lives.

You expect change and are able to roll with it when it happens

Things change in production all the time. People change their involvement with the project. Things get started and then halted. Even weather can change a shoot unexpectedly. 

It is the same with children; they have their own ideas, needs and intentions. And sometimes, as parents, we have to be ok with throwing our plans to the wind.

You encourage them to be their best selves

Producing is about collaboration. Once you have hired the best team possible, you have to do everything you can to support them in bringing all they are to the work they do.

The role of mother is exactly the same. You learn what your child needs, what makes them tick and how to encourage the most authentic manifestation of who they are.

You listen

Whether I am in conversation with a director, client, crew member or my son, I listen with my full attention.  I want them to be heard and to know their voices and opinions are important. 

Lilah tells us at she loves out her mom as we kick off our Mother's Day celebration.

It is in collecting thoughts and creating an environment of trust that the best films and the best parenting happens.

You trust that they will have the life meant for them

Films and children have their own paths. It is not my job to define what that path is, but to gently support and suggest things along the way. It is not up to me, entirely, when a film gets released or what my son’s interests are.

I can listen to what the film tells me and heed the cues my son gives me.

You create space with love

With films it is the director’s responsibility to dig deep and tell the truest story possible. With parenting, our responsibility is to accept and love our children exactly as they are. In both cases, it is critical that a platform is created for this acceptance and love. 

I work hard to do this every day with my son and with Portraits That Move.

Since having my son, I have made some of my best work, On Mediation, Kings Point, Boomtown and many more.  Now, with the work we do here at Portraits that Move, creating documentaries for families, I am so thankful to get to do this every day, to get to be a mother to my son and to have both of these worlds so intertwined, informed and strengthened by each other.

A space for All of Us - In Front of the Camera

I have spent more than two decades behind the camera. As a young child, I wanted to be an actress, a performer and a singer.

I loved being on stage, but quickly found out that, even though I was driven, I was not particularly talented.

When I was fourteen I got lucky. The high school I attended had a public access television station, and I enrolled in a class to learn about video production.

My life changed.

I felt the creative rush of making something that the world could experience without having to be the one in front, performing. I could make decisions, have a voice and lead a project in a new way. I was hooked. I loved all aspects of producing.  I still do.

Later, I went to film school and graduate film school, embarking on the journey of learning how to be a good producer.  In the early days of my career, the voice of a film was really that of the director. The producer’s job was to stand behind the director and the on-camera talent - to be the support and power behind the public representation of a project.

I felt at home in that role, knowing I could make a difference while supporting the people with whom I worked. I could create a safe space for everyone involved with the project.

I could help them find and tell their truths, and share the message of the film.

Interestingly, now, after twenty years of that work, I am faced with a shift in roles, thanks to the launch of Portraits that Move – and this blog, specifically. I’m excited but, frankly, a little nervous to put my own voice out there, my image, and my ideas. It feels weird and unsettling to be in front of the camera instead of behind it, but it is exactly where I need to be.

Why? First, I believe that we should try things that scare us.  The other side of that risk is empowerment. Second, if I am asking people to be in front of the camera and tell their truths, then I need to do the same. This kind of trust, this type of dialogue is what we need for the authenticity and accessibility of Portraits that Move.

Sharing our feelings unites us and makes us feel closer.  A recent conversation with my cousin reinforced that perspective and suggested that this blog be a conduit for connection.  So, in that spirit, I hope that this space will be just that, a place for us to feel closer, to share in joy, and to be in this together.

Thank you in advance for the support and feedback, as I step out from behind the camera.  Looking forward to our continued conversation, and exploration of truth, connection and fearlessness together. 

~ Susannah Ludwig, March 2015