by Dan Lalande

“Life is precious. That is what Legacy Videos is all about.”

Andy and his dad on a father-son bonding trip to Chicago.

As an aspiring filmmaker with an idea to capture people’s last reflections on camera, Andy Tran drove two hours to the bedside of Peter Sisomphou, a Muay Thai (a form of kickboxing) master with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Peter’s insights on life and death, which Andy was able to share with his family the morning Peter passed on, weren’t just momentous for Peter’s loved ones. They also affirmed that the young entrepreneur was providing a valuable service and forever altered the application of his chosen discipline. “That moment,” Andy remembers, “gives me goosebumps to this day. After being part of such a powerful experience, I knew I wanted to keep doing more.”

Up to that point, Andy, the son of Vietnamese refugees, was doing corporate and educational videos. But his notion to help those experiencing their last days record their life stories and parting thoughts provided the artistic and personal fulfillment that had been eluding him. Out of death, Legacy Videos was born.

Andy’s crews use FiNovlm-grade cameras, professional lighting and top-quality microphones.

“I did my first few videos for free,” Andy recounts. “I was just seeking people who were older and had great stories to tell. Clients were very apprehensive because nothing like this existed in the marketplace. Some also viewed a project honouring themselves as egotistical or self-serving. But now, people have come to see that the films we produce have the potential to live on forever and can come to mean everything to loved ones.”

Andy’s crews use film-grade cameras, professional lighting and top-quality microphones. The setup is small in order to preserve intimacy. “We are in the business of building relationships and deep connections,” Andy explains. “The business of vulnerability. I make sure any collaborators who are interviewing on my behalf are incredible listeners, are mindfully present and engage in conversation. Anybody who works with Legacy Videos needs to understand the magnitude of the work. My intention is to produce films that are priceless.” The final products are offered in digital form and  on custom USB flash drives or memory sticks.

Andy’s grandfather and his father in Vietnam in the 1960s.

People approach Andy to leave their imprint on the world, impart their life lessons, express their heartfelt thanks yous and goodbyes and guide ensuing generations.

People approach Andy to leave their imprint on the world, impart their life lessons, express their heartfelt thanks yous and goodbyes and guide ensuing generations. As Andy points out, these films also serve as a kind of coping mechanism. “It’s always therapeutic to talk about our difficult times and trauma,” he qualifies. “That’s another reason why we ensure that our team is compassionate, is able to effectively and warmly hold space.”

“Sitting down and listening to these stories has really given me perspective on what the present moment truly means,” he reveals. “I have learned to seize the present for what it really is: everything. Also, to appreciate my youth and to live every day to the fullest. That includes taking the time to enjoy myself and my family and not have to worry about growing the company all the time.”

“Death is something that we must come to terms with and accept. Learning to actually think about it consciously instead of avoiding it or denying it until it’s too late is the right way to approach it. The sooner you talk about it, the sooner you can focus on how you want to live. That goes for everybody at any stage of life, whether they’re a young adult or on their deathbed.”

Andy’s hope for Legacy Videos is not simply that the company keeps evolving but that it inspires a veritable industry devoted to the practice of video-based immortalization. “I would love to start a movement where we are honouring the lives of the elders that came before us so that we can learn from them and move forward, generation after generation.”

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