All I Want at My Funeral Is a Kickass Video

A modest request for a satisfying end.

John Carstens
Aug 17, 2018 · 3 min read

Honey, this is a conversation we really need to have, sad as it is. You may say we’ve got plenty of time, that I’m relatively young and robust, but in a world filled with terrorists, diseased birds, and tainted spinach, you never know. So here it is:

When I’m gone, honor my life however you want. Just promise me there will be a kickass video.

You can put my remains in a coffin or urn, or mix them with compost. Go heavy on candles or just crank up a smoke machine. The venue may or may not have some relation to that night I partied with Stephen Baldwin. All that is up to you. After all, you’re the one who’ll need to come to grips with the permanence of my absence.

My only thing is the video. It’s got to be there, and it’s got to be kickass.

It should be loosely chronological, covering the arc of my being — from the seminal day of my arrival to my last great whatever. Put the major milestones in there, like all my job promotions, but also pepper in a ton of those small, authentic moments that make the viewer feel like I’m still in the here and now. Me as a little kid wetting Santa’s lap. Me as a teenager flinging lawn darts over the neighbor’s fence. Me self-piercing, playing the bassoon, mooning the dean at graduation, proposing to you with a half-sucked candy ring, accepting that awesome Lucite trophy at the office, dancing ironically, narrating as the dog humps a stuffed lamb, and things still to come (hopefully), like getting my hands dirty as a volunteer. Maybe hugging a refugee.

People can have a good chuckle at my haircuts and cardigans in high school, as long as you spend some time on my sophomore year of college, when I worked out a lot. Know what would be cool? A match-cut sequence of people laughing at things I’ve said.

Throw in some metaphorical clips here, a little historical context there. Time-lapse of a flower blooming. A lion on a cliff. Scorpions singing “Winds of Change” at the Berlin Wall. Famous love scenes. Obama. Stuff like that.

I’ll start a Google Doc and keep adding ideas as they come.

Overall, the video should ebb and flow between pious, groovy, lighthearted, tragic, and fall-off-your-chair hilarious. (Look closely at my Instagram to get a feel for the cadence of this.) Go for elegant cuts and cross-fades. No whip pans or clock wipes or other cheesy transitions. If you do any sort of Ken Burns effect, just make sure it’s pushing in on a meaningful focal point, not some random nostril or nipple.

Music! Super important. The right tracks can make this video a tour de force of emotional reckoning, whereas the wrong ones might render my life a blight on the senses. Choose carefully. I’ve created a Spotify playlist with plenty of options for different sections, from “Everybody Hurts” to “Poopity Scoop” to some choice EDM — you know, to get butts moving. I strongly suggest you end on “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. But see where the pictures take you.

Unless my death is sudden, I’ll make myself available to give feedback on your first few cuts. I mean, I want you to own this, but if I’m lying in bed with some drawn-out terminal illness, what else am I going to do? Right?

You know how most funerals leave you thinking: Really? That’s it? A life full of trials and triumphs has come to end, and it’s all been reduced to a few anecdotes? Pretty unsatisfying. Let’s be honest, not all of my friends are as articulate as I’d like them to be. And the few who are capable of striking a good balance between wit and anguish might die before I do. Leave nothing to chance, I say.

A kickass video that connects with the audience and leaves no doubt that my existence really mattered — that my life was bigger than me — is like emotional insurance. If executed right, it will keep the stories flowing, the memories intact, and the ceremony from falling short.

Remember, it’s not about me. It’s about the people who can’t live without me.


Medium humor. Large laughs.

John Carstens

Written by

Writer and creative director for Apple, DDB, TBWA\Chiat\Day, and other purveyors of persuasion.



Medium humor. Large laughs.

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