Fundamentals of Shooting a Good Interview
Posted on 27th May 2022
In the area of cinematography, interviews are an interesting conundrum. Although they appear to be a straightforward point-and-shoot procedure, the devil is all in the details. After all, there are millions of potential variables behind the camera that can affect production if one should go awry, and any big mistakes in the final presentation of the interview will be scrutinised by the audience. So, here at Prism Studios, we have a conceptual list of helpful suggestions to guarantee that the interview process runs smoothly for both the client and interviewee while also having the production value look as professional as possible.
There are four key points to analyse and assess during production. The location; choose an appropriate environment with decent natural lighting that will not interfere with on-set lighting. Audio is the next and most important component, since any errors here will prove to be huge hurdles in post-production. The on-set representative of the sound department must aim for the cleanest recording quality acquired through preferably a Rode lav or boom microphone. Next up is the composition of the camera’s frame. No matter how many cameras will be recording on set, compose the interviewee and any additional subjects according to the rule of thirds. Finally, prep your interviewee and ask interesting questions that allow ample answers.
The crew’s mindset, in addition to their gear checklist and proper equipment setup, plays a significant role in interview preparation. Expectations, pacing, order of questions, allowing enough time, listening, improvising, and curiosity are all factors to consider.
Once the shooting commences, begin with questions that ease the interviewee into the dialogue and are subjects the interviewee is very comfortable answering. After all, if you want the interviewee to be open emotionally, ask those questions in the middle of the interview and close on a lighter note. This is especially true when it comes to interviewing questions for documentaries. Simply by allowing for silence and maintaining eye contact with your interviewee, you can get an honest response without pressing.
Comfort your interviewee's fears by assuring them that everything is going well. As long as it's genuine, do it a lot. Take a moment if they're not performing well and are excessively timid. Remind your interviewee that if they feel they made a mistake, they can repeat it and start over. These simple acts will be well worth the effort as it leads to a more solid interview.
In summary, test and decide which methods are effective based on the current interview situation. Remember to prepare the lighting with the best equipment, placement of subjects, and rule of thirds. Compassion is your guide. As the interviewer, you can physically be a stand-in for your interviewee. It helps your crew as they light the set and reminds you what it feels like to be in the hot seat. Overall, just make sure that your decisions support the general goal — telling the story.
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