In the world of video production, an important element is helping individuals to tell their stories on camera.
Filmed interviews are used to convey information and experiences directly to the camera.
There are a few tips that stand out in my mind from my experience in interviewing a wide array of people through the years.
1. Make the Interviewee Feel at Ease
When working with an individual, the first priority is usually to help them relax in front of the camera.
A way to do this is by building rapport with the interviewee before the filming process even starts. This may include meeting in person with them before the day of the shoot or at least speaking with them on the phone.
Assure them that they can take a break whenever needed and can redo an answer as many times as needed, so there is no pressure.
2. Set the Stage
The placement of the interviewee is an important part of the video production process. You always want to be at eye level with the individual, rather than having them looking up or down. Also, in most cases, you do not want the individual looking directly into the camera as they are speaking. Remind them to keep eye contact with you throughout the entire interview.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to go Mobile
Most of the time, interviews are sit down, with you and the interviewee engaging in conversation across from one another. If the situation allows though, don’t be afraid to step out of the box and interview your subject in their natural setting. An example of this may be a baker in their kitchen whipping up their award-winning chocolate chip cookies. Hook them up to a wireless microphone and let the words flow about their passion. This allows viewers to have a glimpse inside the person’s life and the story they are trying to convey.
4. Make the Interview Impromptu
Sometimes you may get the request for a list of questions that will be asked throughout the interview. It is perfectly fine to provide a general outline to your subject on what the topic is and what you will be discussing, but I would highly discourage your interviewee from memorizing answers to a specific set of questions. This can sometimes sound a bit robotic and unnatural.
The most engaging interviews are when it is natural and conversational.
You want your interviewee to have a really genuine on-camera presence.
5. Always Check Your Audio
Unless doing a silent piece, one of the key elements for video production is sound. When conducting an interview, always, always, always check your audio. Make sure you carry a pair of headphones with you at all times. Keep headphones in throughout the entirety of the interview. Even though the audio levels may look good at the beginning of an interview, a flaw in the sound could happen at any point and this allows you to be aware and fix the problem before it is too late and you are no longer in the presence of your subject.
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