The Interview | Video Production Guide

PICTURE: On the set for Peacehealth commercial for Baron & Company. 

Filming interviews. Gotta have it. A standard part of all video production.

So WHY are they so difficult?

Probably because they are so unnatural.

Marketing person: “Okay, we’ve got a GREAT interview person for that part of the product. They love to talk about it.”

Get to the interview. Ask the person about it. They either can’t talk, or can’t shut up. You can’t use anything they say because their eyes are bugging around the whole time. They feel uncomfortable. They hate it. For most people, this is like going to the dentist and the boss has told them they have to do this interview.

Let’s face it, having a giant camera in your face and tons of people staring at you and clackers and “QUIET!!” all the time, etc. just is not very conducive to conversation.

So what can you do about it?

Max’s Tips for Great Interviews:

1) Listen to your interviewee. So many times interviewers are so busy hunting around for what they want to hear that they don’t just LISTEN to the person they are interviewing. This leads to new discoveries (see next), to more comfort for the interviewee, and to more natural seeming answers.

2) Be open. Follow the conversation (Part of 1 – make sure you are open to moving where the conversation is going. ) If you are listening, you’ll find out angles you hadn’t thought of before by following the conversation where the person actually wants to take it, instead of where you want to force it. I know it isn’t in your script – but you’d be amazed the gold you find in these hills.

3) Keep your crew small. Try to have as few people as possible in the room when doing the interview. It is really difficult to have a normal conversation with 20 people staring at you and all of them worried that you are going to breathe into the mic wrong, etc.

4) Explain upfront the simple rules. Look right at me all the time, right to the very end, and always answer the question by restating the question.

5) Don’t give your interviewees the exact questions you’ll be asking beforehand. Half the time they’ll practice their answers and come out sounding very scripted.

6) Use soft lights that don’t fry your interviewee. You try sitting under those hot lights – it’s like getting a visit from the Gestapo.

7) Be supportive. Never fail to keep telling your interviewee how well they are doing. They never think they are, maybe they are not. Nevertheless, pepper them with support at all times. Keep offering them water. Make them feel like a star.

Using these tips will help you to have productive interviews that feel less like interrogations. Also one last thing to keep in mind:

Have the talent look OFF camera. I can’t tell you how often this little bit comes up on set. Looking directly at the camera should be reserved for PSA appeals, telethons, etc. It doesn’t work for interviews.

Good luck!



Author: Max Kaiser

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