Is Videoing Your Funeral Becoming a Thing?

September 22, 2015
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Article originally appeared on Stuff.co.nz

It might not be something you sit down and watch with a bowl of popcorn, but increasing numbers of families are filming loved ones’ funerals.

Big Screen Advertising funeral videographer/editor Juliet Campbell, from Invercargill, said more families are opting to have funeral services and burials or cremation filmed, leading to an “explosion” in popularity.

One Invercargill funeral home officiated 45 funerals in August while other Southland funeral homes also had high numbers, she said.

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“We had four funeral videos booked in one day,” she said.

“It’s pretty much full-time.”

Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) chief executive Katrina Shanks said professional filming of funerals was “absolutely” becoming more popular.

“Funeral homes have become quite IT-oriented,” she said.

“Most funeral homes that are members of our association now offer it. It really speaks to the global community we are. A lot of young people in their 20s go on OEs, and livestreaming helps them stay in touch when a loved one dies.”

She said filming funerals also spoke to the way Kiwis grieved.

“In New Zealand, the way we grieve is we gather, we remember and we celebrate [the person’s life].”

Campbell said the harsh winter and Southland’s ageing population might have been part of the reason there were so many funerals this winter.

She said there were several reasons why funeral videos were increasing in popularity.

“It’s becoming more important [to families],” she said.

“It used to be frowned upon, but many families want something for archive purposes and to send to family overseas. We’re sending out heaps of DVDs overseas.”

She said the videos carried great emotional weight.

“It’s not something you sit down on a Saturday night with a bowl of popcorn and watch.”

Campbell said her company had hired another woman earlier this year to assist with filming funerals, among other job duties. She said her company worked with funeral homes throughout Southland, and had travelled as far as Wanaka to film.

“It’s not a morbid thing. Most funerals are a celebration of life. It’s kind of like watching a biography.”

She said prices for filming funerals could vary, starting at about $400 for a basic package that includes the funeral and a burial/cremation, if the family so desires. Extra services like livestreaming the funeral would add about $150.

Beck Industries Ltd. owner David Beck, also of Invercargill, said the practice of professionally filming funerals had not been taboo for some time.

“For Southlanders, it became quite acceptable early on,” he said.

“Early on, it was primarily [because] someone couldn’t make it [to the funeral]. A lot of people have relatives overseas. Families also do it to archive it. It’s also a family reunion.”

Beck said he had filmed more than 1100 funerals since 2000. He said he worked with a variety of funeral homes, who contacted him if families wished for a funeral to be professionally filmed.

He said costs for his services could range from about $360 for a basic package to up to $700 or $800 that included worldwide livestreaming.

Most funeral videos were between 60 and 90 minutes long, he said.

He said he normally filmed between five and 10 funerals a month.

“Ten is busy, but you’d normally expect about seven or so.”

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