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Ready to Listen

How One Man Makes People Feel Heard

Article by Sarah Knieff

Photography by Andrew Vick

Originally published in Edina Lifestyle

It’s the middle of the week and Dietrich Nissen, owner of Inherited Stories, is getting ready to start another project. He sets up lighting, mics his client, presses record on the camera and sits down opposite a stranger with a story to tell.

Dietrich is over the moon for another opportunity to connect with an everyday person and make them feel understood. You see, he knows they don’t have to be famous or adored by thousands to have something to say – everyone from The Rock to a fourth grader is worthy of being heard.

When Dietrich finishes up for the day, he smiles to himself knowing that he is helping another family digitally immortalize their loved one, all the while living his dream.

“Inherited Stories started as a decades-long vision of mine,” he explains. “I have held a lot of jobs in my life – everything from TV news, film and commercial production to teaching elementary school – and during all of them, my favorite part was when I got to talk with people in all different stages of life.”

He continues, “I love people, I really do. After 20 plus years in video storytelling, I wanted to solely focus on helping others tell their stories. Unfortunately, the event that really made me put my dream into motion was when my grandmother died.”

Before she passed, Dietrich and his family would go to her house every Sunday for dinner, enjoying good food and listening to all her tales.

“She was a single mom to five boys and lived during the Great Depression, so you could only imagine the stories she would tell,” Dietrich says. “My uncles and dad would say that we should set up a camera to record her talking, but we just never got around to it. She died from dementia and Alzheimer's complications before we got the camera out and I will always regret this.”

Wanting to eliminate this pain for other families, Dietrich opened Inherited Stories in 2019.

“I now can give families the option of remembering the people they love through a legacy documentary known as a Vimory,” he says. “So once that person is no longer with us here, they'll still be able to hear their voice, see their smile and listen to their stories.”

Each Vimory is a custom-crafted piece of unique visual art about a person(s)’ life journey. Dietrich does a lot of the work himself– everything from planning, shooting, interviewing, editing and graphic design.

“Our life stories are the one thing we each have that can only be passed down from us to our families, and that makes them priceless,” Dietrich says. “My vision for Inherited Stories is for us to become synonymous with providing transparent, integrity-driven customer service, producing outstanding visual storytelling, and promoting a culture of empathy, kindness and appreciation.

“Also, it’s important to understand that even though I started this, in part, because of my grandmother’s passing, a person does not need to be in their end stages of life to have a Vimory created for them.”

Inherited Stories offers six different Vimory categories including legacy, betrothed, origin, cherished, gathering and brave.

“The legacy and betrothed Vimories are similar in that they respectively capture an individual or couple’s life story at any stage,” Dietrich explains. “The origin is a fun and light project, designed as a celebratory gift for a graduate and their family. The cherished is created to preserve an individual's life story before their terminal illness takes them from us. The gathering is a family-style interview where members openly share about the life of someone they love living with memory loss. Last but not least, the brave is a gift for service members and their immediate families.”

Vimory projects can take anywhere between 30 to 80 hours to finish. Dietrich starts by meeting with the clients to go over his process, what to expect and how to prepare for the interview shoot(s).

“We want you and your loved ones to feel comfortable with us,” he says. “That’s why the first thing we’ll do is meet so we can get to know everyone. We will travel to you to ease stress and mileage is covered in the overall fee if within a 50-mile radius of Edina. We do travel the whole upper Midwest, just for an additional cost.”

After the meeting, it’s time to record, create, and deliver.

“Depending on the category of Vimory a client is creating, we may record at multiple locations and/or have multiple interviewees,” Dietrich explains. “At the recording session, I gather all photos and other physical media the family wants to be included in the video. Afterwards, we start creating the actual Vimory and once complete it will be delivered digitally. It’s fun to watch as everything comes together.”

Since opening, Dietrich has worked on many touching projects and has grown strong relationships with a few clients. 

“It’s a funny thing when you just take the time to listen to someone,” he says. “Two strangers connect on a different level and it’s very special. I have been invited to clients’ anniversary parties, weddings and other big life events.”

This past January he interviewed his youngest client yet, a seven-year-old girl with a terminal illness. As a father of two young children himself, Dietrich says this was really hard to do, but also incredible.

“We made a video about the girl just being herself, playing with her favorite Disney Frozen toys and hanging out,” he says. “She’s a great kid and this was a turning point because I was really able to see that there is no age limit to what I do.”

As Dietrich gears up for his next few projects this summer, he once again smiles to himself with his heart open, ears perked and camera on record.

“If I could, I would do this for free,” he says. “Everyone has a story to tell, and we just need to be ready to listen.”

952-457-6526 |

  • Dietrich Nissen and family.
  • Dietrich Nissen
  • Dietrich Nissen
  • Dietrich Nissen
  • Dietrich Nissen
  • Dietrich Nissen
  • Dietrich Nissen
  • Dietrich Nissen

"Everyone has a story to tell, and we just need to be ready to listen.”