About Our Videos

Rites of Passage began in 1988 in Austin,Texas as a nonprofit agency which provided both home care for people with AIDS and AIDS education for the community. Our patients at that time were mainly gay men and IV drug users but in the early spring of 1989, we were asked to take on a very different sort of case: we were asked to provide home care for a 6 month old baby with AIDS. This baby's name was Jason Briggs and his parents, Jim and Gerri, were HIV+ also. They had only recently been diagnosed and in the space of a few months, AIDS had very nearly destroyed their small family: physically, emotionally and financially.

Wanting to help others avoid the heartbreak and devastation that they had experienced, the Briggs mentioned their wish to contribute in some way to AIDS education. My son, Andy, was at this same time, working on a degree in radio-television- film at the University of Texas. He had the talent and the resources to videotape an interview with Jim and Gerri and this seemed to offer them just the opportunity they had been looking for: videotaping their story they felt, would be an ideal way of contributing to AIDS education. This initial interview quickly became a series of interviews and then a full length video which we named Jason-The Way We Live Today and soon this video became an integral part of the seminars we presented for churches and various community groups. We had been searching for a way to break through some of the barriers of prejudice about AIDS and 'Jason' was able to do this. This simple video carried with it a tremendous power to touch the hearts of even the most cynical and hardhearted people we encountered and so it was with Jason-The Way We Live Today, that I first began to understand the tremendous power of video... to alter beliefs and reverse prejudice, to reach people at the deepest levels of their being and to inspire love and compassion.

All of our videos are about life and facing the greatest challenges that life can present: living with a life threatening illness; losing a child, a spouse or a beloved friend; growing old; meeting death-the different passages that we all face in one way or another at one time or another. We do not film with a preplanned script but rather spend a day or a week listening to and recording the stories and the experiences of the patients and families who have invited us into their lives, allowing us to capture a moment in time and preserve some of their wisdom and insight for others who may face a similar challenge or passage.

We feel that the videos that we produce are our special gift to the world , our contribution to bringing greater sensitivity and increased understanding about death and dying, AIDS and aging. All of our videos are now widely distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada with the AIDS videos in particular, reaching as far as Africa and Hong Kong. When you purchase our videos [or posters], you are contributing directly to whatever project we are currently working on and we are always working on a new project. In a very tangible way then, in buying our videos, you are helping to bring about a greater appreciation for the elders in our society, more compassion for people with AIDS and perhaps some comfort to those who have lost a child.

And our videos and posters make wonderful gifts sometimes most especially for a friend or acquaintance who has experienced a recent loss or who is in need of courage and inspiration when caring for an aging or dying parent.

So, we thank you in advance for helping us continue this work that over the years has come to be our primary mission and purpose in life.

Cindy Pickard, producer/director