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Gordon needs to grow up knowing his mother. She was sick through his entire life and died when he was three years old.

There was more to her life than her cancer journey. I'm sure I only know parts of it, and what I do remember will fade. I don't want our memories to be just about the hard times.

Let's collaborate to give Gordon the most comprehensive biography of Amanda Simpson that could be imagined. And let's do it with your voices.

What I'm Making

A video documentary series for Gordon about his mom. It's also for me. And our extended family. I've never heard of someone doing something like this. There's no road map.

I think it could end up being an amazing family treasure that could be handed down through the generations.

I may make a special documentary-length edit for public viewing if it ends up feeling like the right thing to do, and the quality is appropriate. Amanda's story could move people and help the cause of ovarian cancer research, treatment and care.

What I Need

Videos. Good videos from the people who knew Amanda. Your stories, your memories, you in front of the camera, being a living, breathing, compelling storyteller. I can suggest some questions, but consider that a starting point. Later on this page, I will show you how to make your self-interview look and sound its best.

B-Roll, also. That's the material that's not interviews. Location shots. Clips of important places. Buildings, towns, ephemera. Extra video so it's not just a bunch of talking heads.

If you're telling a story that involves a place, get some video of the place too, if that's practical. (Example? If you're telling a story about being with Amanda on a child protection stakeout, for heaven's sake don't go film the building you were staking out, but maybe tell the story to your video phone while parked in the car somewhere?)

If you're local, I'd love to come and shoot the interview myself. We could spend some time together and have a great conversation on video. For most, the best solution will be to record yourself and send me some files.

What to say

I'm telling the story of her life, which is made up of many smaller stories. The stories that make you laugh, make you cry, make you cringe. Amanda's victories and defeats, her achievements and struggles, her passions and fears. What made her laugh? What showed her character? What did she say about her family? What made you love her? What will you remember always? I'd also like to round up some of the stories that Amanda would tell and re-tell over and over.

How to send it

I've set up a Dropbox file request. Go to this link and you can upload your files.

How to reach me

For this project, I've created an email address:


I'm looking for a good, simple tutorial video that will explain how to best record yourself. Until then, here are some basic tips.

  • Lighting is crucial. Seat yourself in front of a window during the day for some good, even, natural light. Make sure the background looks to your liking, too
  • Frame yourself something like this, a medium shot with a little headroom, some room to the side you're talking to, and your eyes about 1/3 of the way down the frame
  • If you can shoot on a tripod, great. Otherwise find some way to keep the camera still
  • You can record on your phone, but use the front-facing camera, not the selfie camera
  • Shoot horizontally, like a TV or movie, not vertically like a portrait
  • If you can change the settings on your camera, please shoot at 24p, 1080p if possible, 1/48 or 1/50 shutter speed
  • If you know someone who takes great pictures, maybe they take great video, too. Invite them to help?
  • People don't notice audio until it's bad. We need to hear you clearly, and just you.
  • If you have an external microphone you can use, great. Most don't. The phone in your camera records pretty well, but only if you're close enough, and only in a decent environment. So watch out for noise: wind, music, loud air conditioning, a very "live" room with lots of reflections.
  • If you're up for it, I can teach you to record the sound separately from the video, and I can synchronize them later using the camera video and the "good" audio

Fine Print

Goal #1 is something I can share with Gordon through the years. Goal #2 is for me. Goal #3 is that if the material merits it, I'd like to cut a version for others to see. I don't foresee it ever becoming a commercial release, but stranger things have happened. I suppose what I'm saying is, don't hold back. I will edit out anything too inappropriate.

Release forms

I need to fill this in soon. As a formality, I'll need you to sign a release form.


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