Tales of a Life

Legacy Through Storytelling

Judy Van Wyk, owner of Tales of a Life, Custom Family Videos

Photograph by Barbara Tyroler.

Judy Van Wyk is an award-winning television producer with twenty-five years of experience as a visual storyteller. Throughout her career, Judy has taken special interest in how people navigate their lives given their particular circumstances. As a storyteller, she strives to convey what is unique and compelling about each of the people she profiles.

Judy teaches documentary production at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies in Durham, North Carolina. She has produced, directed, and edited documentary films and written a commissioned biography of Wendell Murphy, a pioneer in industrial swine production.

During her years as a television producer for the Discovery Network, Judy worked with many families who, in the face of chronic disease or life threatening illness, needed to share their story with someone who was sensitive and respectful. She brings that same skill and sensitivity to the realm of personal biography.

Personal Statement

For all of us, our life story is indelibly shaped by our relationship to family. And understanding our family history connects us to who we are and where we come from.

That is why Tales of a Life focuses on life stories around the issues of family legacy and transition. I want to work with people to explore what’s important to them and what they want to pass on to future generations.

My hope is that the process of exploration can be both revealing and healing. We all deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated for all that we’ve accomplished, for the struggles we’ve endured, and for the dreams we have held.

I hope that I can help you and your loved ones create a family history video to be cherished for generations to come.

Judy Van Wyk interviewing mother for family video.
Mother on camera for family video.Judy Van Wyk interviewing family for documentary video.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

CURRENT WORK

TALES OF A LIFE, DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION COMPANY

Owner/Producer/Director

Tales of a Life creates personal biographies of everyday people so that their life stories will live on. Filmed in a documentary style, personal narratives are brought to life through a combination of interviews, photos and other archival images, letter read aloud, and scenes of everyday life.

DUKE UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR DOCUMENTARY STUDIES

Instructor, Film Production

Currently teaches film production at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.

INDEPENDENT PROJECTS

MUSINGS OF AN IRAQI PATRIOT

Producer/Director, 25-minute Documentary Film

This film tells the story of Ahmed Fadaam, an Iraqi sculptor turned journalist who fled to Chapel Hill, NC after Sunni insurgents threatened his life.
Shown at the River Run Festival in Winston-Salem. Official Selection of the DocUtah International Film Festival.

WENDELL MURPHY: THE REAL STORY OF BOSS HOG

Writer/Researcher, Commissioned Biography

This commissioned biography chronicles the journey of Wendell Murphy went from a small Duplin County tobacco farm to the world’s largest hog producer. The book examines the transition from small, family-run hog farms to high-tech, industrial swine production and explores the environmental, economic, and social consequences of that transition.

GENERATION OF CHANGE: BILL FRIDAY, TERRY SANFORD AND NORTH CAROLINA’S “GREATEST GENERATION” – 1920s-1972

Producer, Aired on UNC-TV

This show highlights the storied careers of North Carolina leaders, including UNC School of Law alumni Bill Friday ’48, Terry Sanford ’46, and William Aycock ’48.

A JOURNEY TOWARDS INTEGRATION

Producer/Director, Video Documentary

This short documentary includes on-camera interviews with teachers and school board members involved in the 1968 desegregation of Chapel Hill High School. The project was sponsored by the North Carolina Humanities Council and included a public forum of 170 participants.

A BUSINESS HISTORY OF BCBSNC (BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD NORTH CAROLINA)

Associate Producer, Multi-Media Project

This corporate multi-media project documents the more than seven-decade business history of Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina.

TELEVISION PROJECTS

GENETIC PROMISES

Producer/Director, Program for Discovery Health Network

Explores the science behind the promise of gene therapy in the 21st century.
Winner of the Freddie Award for best documentary dealing with clinical and basic science; submitted by Discovery Health Network for an Emmy.

HOSPITAL

Producer/Director, Series for the Discovery Channel

This 13-part series takes viewers behind the scenes of the Duke University Medical Center to witness the miracles of modern medicine and the tenacity of the human spirit.

HEAVYWEIGHT SOLUTIONS

Producer/Director, Program for Discovery Health Network

Examines scientific solutions to the obesity epidemic.

SAVING LIFE AND LIMB

Producer/Director, 2-Part Special for TLC Network

This two-part special documents the stories of people who have experienced the trauma of losing an arm, an ear, even part of a face, and the remarkable surgeries that have put them back together. Includes dramatic re-enactments.

CITY NOTES

Producer/Director/Writer/Editor, Magazine Program for City Cable 13: Columbia, MO

This magazine program focused on a broad range of issues affecting the community. Winner of two top honors in the Magazine Category of the National League of Cities Programming Awards. Finalist in the Magazine Category of the Local Cable Ace Awards.

EDUCATIONAL PROJECTS

CARING FOR A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Producer/Director, Video Project

Three diverse stories describe the tremendous rewards and challenges of fostering and adopting children with special needs.

CALL ME IF YOU NEED ME

Producer/Director, Video Project

This case scenario teaches medical staff about key issues surrounding communication and teamwork. Winner of ITVA Silver Reel Award.

PUBLIC RADIO

FEATURE AND SPOT NEWS STORIES

Producer/Writer/Reporter for NPR Affiliate WUNC-FM

Produced, wrote, and reported on news stories that aired during National Public Radio news magazine programs.

EDUCATION

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM

M.A. in Broadcast Journalism, 1991.

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

B.A. in Fine Arts, 1978.

Box of family photos for use in family video.