Preserving Legacies Through Film

Justin Guilder & Eriksen Dickens

Thank you for Listening this Episode!

Support our podcast by spreading the word to new listeners. We deeply appreciate your support!

Episode Description

In this episode of the Lumida Legacy Podcast, host Justin Gilder engages with filmmaker Ericksen in a deep dive into the power of documentary filmmaking for preserving personal and family legacies. Ericksen shares his journey from childhood filmmaking aspirations through a pivot from sports to filmmaking due to injuries, leading to the formation of a company dedicated to capturing and preserving the legacies of individuals, especially those with significant financial success. The discussion delves into Erickson's personal experience creating a documentary about his father's life and legacy, the process of crafting these legacy documentaries, and the impact these films have on families and future generations. Erickson highlights the value of understanding one's legacy, sharing stories of high-net-worth individuals who've used their resources to leave a lasting impact, and the nuanced approach to encapsulating someone's life and values through film. The conversation also touches on the therapeutic aspects of legacy documentaries, the importance of family and values, and the profound personal and professional reflections that emerge from engaging in this work.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to the Lumida Legacy Podcast. I'm your host, Justin Gilder. On this podcast, we'll explore how to achieve and plan for a long, healthy life, as well as how to prepare for the inevitable and unforeseen through estate planning, insurance, and end of life decisions. We'll talk candidly with experts who advise high and ultra high net worth clients, so you can learn how to apply their strategies and tactics to your own longevity and legacy planning.

On this episode of the Lumida Legacy podcast, I'm joined by Erikson Dickens, the co founder and creative director of Platinum Peak. Erikson creates feature film length legacy documentaries for families and family foundations. He and his brother first developed a legacy documentary when he researched and directed a film honoring his deceased father.

Through that process, he uncovered the tremendous impact his father had on the lives of others, and [00:01:00] that inspired him to help other families preserve the legacy of their loved ones through film. He has worked for ultra high net worth family offices and philanthropic foundations to create films that demonstrate the values and principles of their founders, preserving and communicating their legacy to the next generations. 

Justin: Erickson, how are you today? I'm doing great, Justin. How you doing? I'm doing really well. Really excited to have this conversation. I, as think a lot about legacy and help my clients plan their legacy as well as contemplate my own or any number of reasons. And so when we had an opportunity to talk and you shared with me the work that you do in reducing, People's legacies and thoughts and values into a film for them and their family.

I thought, wow, this is fascinating. I'd love to know how you got into [00:02:00] filmmaking and how within filmmaking, you decided to focus on this style of film. 

Erikson: Yeah, absolutely. First off, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it. And, to answer your question, my brother and I, when we were kids, we did the whole movie making thing, right?

We enjoyed going outside, scripts, props, just the whole nine yards. Sports took priority during our childhood, and our love for filmmaking went on the shelf for a while. And we got into college and our sports careers ended. We both got injured. And so we faced that identity crisis that a lot of athletes go through.

We were like, okay, what do we do with our lives now? Sports are gone. It was such a big part of our existence. And so we put our heads together and we were like, why don't we get back into our childhood love of making movies, filmmaking. Put some money together and we got a camera and we just started to go out and shoot.

We learned by doing. We weren't in college for filmmaking, obviously, but it was a lot of trial and error, a lot of watching YouTube videos, and one thing led to another and we decided to start a company. [00:03:00] And at first we were dabbling in anything and everything, right? Trying to build a portfolio, doing a lot of free work, networking.

And eventually we wanted to challenge ourselves, right? It's one thing to go out and create a flashy montage, but being the storytellers that we were at heart, we wanted to do something a little deeper, something to challenge ourselves, our storytelling prowess. And so we decided to make a long form documentary on my dad's life.

My dad passed away when we were kids. And we figured, okay, why don't we make something. In honor of him, right? Something about his life, preserve his legacy in a way. And so that was a start of about a year and a half long process of creating a film. 80 minutes, it turned out to be, we interviewed about 40 people.

He was my childhood baseball coach. And so in essence, that was his legacy. I'm not just impacting my life, but all the players that he coached as well. And so one thing led to another. We created the film. We premiered it in my hometown. About 300 people came, which was super cool. [00:04:00] And that got us thinking about just the concept of legacy preservation using the medium of film.

So to answer your question, it came from a very, personal experience with our own dad's death. And, coming to terms with that and the whole experience was cathartic for us in a way. It was therapeutic. And we just started to think about opportunities in terms of how we can continue to do this for other families who might want a similar style documentary done on their lives.

Justin: So you and I share that in common. We both lost our fathers. My father now has been passed for 14 years. And I know that loss. Has made me think a lot more about legacy, and longevity as well, especially I have young children and they're not old enough to have known my father. So my oldest is 12 and it's very interesting to think about how they will come to understand [00:05:00] my father simply through stories, that I tell and pictures and stories that others tell.

And, you have now a unique asset. That you can utilize to share stories about your father. So I'm jealous in a way. I may have to tap you to do something for my father. One thing I'd love to know is, did you learn something unexpected? About your father during the process, a year and a half long journey.

Erikson: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm yeah. 100 percent that was part of our desire as well, throughout this process was to learn more about him as well. We obviously had a good grasp on who he was, but exploring all the different people that we interviewed, their perspectives on my father, their personal experiences with him.

We learned a lot of things about him that I didn't know. And that was super, super helpful. Super special and, emotional for us. Like we, we felt like we walked away from that experience, learning more about my dad as a [00:06:00] man, right? Who he was during his childhood. What did he like? Simple things that we just didn't know.

And so that was something that going forward past this documentary, when we started to do it for other people, other families, we wanted to really implement that into the process and let these people know that our goal is to actually dive in. And figure out things that you might not know from other people.

That way you get a more robust picture of who your loved one is or who your loved one was. So to answer your question, yeah, that was part of the most intrinsically rewarding part, I think, of the whole experience was just feeling closer to my dad, despite the fact he had already been gone for a few years at that point was, is a deeper connection to him.

So yeah, to answer your question, 100%. 

Justin: You mentioned. Storytelling. You talked about, testing your storytelling prowess, you and your brother, and I'm curious here how you talk with a prospective client, whether that's a family [00:07:00] office or an individual or their family, when exploring the concept of legacy and storytelling.

In particular, I'm thinking, What kind of story they want to tell, and then ultimately what kind of story is revealed through the process. If those differ, how you reconcile that with the family, 

Erikson: right? So when we set out to do these films, we make it pretty evident in the beginning that we're doing this to honor your loved one, right?

We want to make sure that what we put together, meets your vision, meets your goals, meets your objective for this project, right? It's one thing to. If we were to just be like, yeah, just give us the information. We'll just go run with it, do our thing. And then we hope you like it. The odds of them actually appreciating as much as they could are slimmer, right?

So we work hand in hand with the families, with the individual, in depth during pre production to understand this person on [00:08:00] a very deep level and making sure that we. Craft the piece in a way that aligns with their objective for it. And we developed this formula that has worked for us. We call it the seven storytelling pillars that we go into each project addressing.

And that's the history of the person. That's the passion of the person. Their individual process. Then it's the obstacles that they face. We feel like addressing the obstacles, the adversity is super important. You can't have a good story without that healthy dose of conflict, right? Then after that is the successes, obviously their achievements, and then that, after that is the impact as well, the impact that they've had on their loved ones, society around them.

Then after that is the future. If the person is still with us, then we want to also explore their future goals or future aspirations, because oftentimes these people, these individuals, if they're still alive, they don't like to quit. They want to keep going. There's always something next on the horizon.

So also addressing that. Seventh pillar is important to us as well. But yeah, it's, handling somebody's legacy, we [00:09:00] recognize as a big responsibility, right? It's somebody's tasking us with this important, preservation piece that it's a big responsibility and we feel that. And so we go into it making sure that we give each person, each family.

The time, the space, the respect that they deserve, right? Because it could very well be the one thing that allows future generations to fully get a good picture, a good grasp on who this person is or who this person was. So yeah, definitely some trial and error and figuring out our processes around it and working out the kinks, but we feel like we have it down now to a pretty good, might I say science.

Justin: Yeah. Share a little bit more about the impact pillar. I think that a lot of our clients and listeners think a lot about their potential impact. They've achieved a certain level of success and for some, even though they continue [00:10:00] striving for more investment returns, sometimes I've already achieved what they need to achieve, if you will, from a financial perspective, and then begin to shift their focus on impact.

What have you seen from that regard? And then through that lens, maybe tell us a little bit about some of your clients and the family offices that you've done work for. The listeners can get a sense of the scale of your clients. 

Erikson: For sure. I think that honestly, impact is like the pinnacle of legacy, right?

It's who, the life that you were given, the life that you have lived. Who have you touched? How have you touched? How have you touched, right? The who, the what, the how, the why? And so impact, I feel like, is something that we really hone in on. I can give you an example. Right now, we're working on a feature length film for a family foundation out of Texas.

And this man, Like you said, he extremely savvy businessman, made some extremely wise financial [00:11:00] decisions and became very successful. He came from nothing, right? He came from very humble beginnings in the rural South. And he became very financially successful and. He felt like it wasn't enough, right?

It wasn't enough in terms of what can be done with that money. It's one thing to have a bunch of money in your pockets, make sure your family's taken care of, but what can you actually do with this money that's going to affect society around him? That way, when he leaves this world, he can rest easy knowing that he made a debt in a positive way.

So this man set up a foundation, the mid 90s, started off very small, but it's since grown to, multiple states, they have partners, that do a lot of good in terms of Mentorship for the youth, workforce development, creative expression, and that all started with his desire to impact the world around him in a more positive place.

So that's one example I can give you of somebody who used his wealth, used his resources to, really make an impact, on a broader scale. Not just in, in his immediate, ecosystem, [00:12:00] right? Another person that we had the privilege of working with was a gentleman who migrated to America from Lebanon, war torn Lebanon at an early age.