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How to interview on camera – three basic interviewing tips

How to interview on camera – three basic interviewing tips

“Did you enjoy it?” “Yes.” “Oh, I need a longer answer.” No, you need a better interviewing technique. We produce and watch more videos than ever, on more platforms than ever. And while the platforms and formats may evolve and change, some basic techniques underpin a lot of what we as filmmakers produce, regardless of whether it’s a documentary, some branded content or a corporate film. The basics may include framing the shot, editing, capturing audio — but more crucially, getting the right information from our interviewees. I was recently sent two very long interviews and asked to edit them down to a 2-minute highlights piece for a client. It was almost impossible. Why? Two main reasons: The interviewer was unprepared — or maybe disengaged or distracted— and didn’t seem to correct some obvious flaws in the questions, resulting in a set of disjointed, random answers. The interviewer, perhaps inadvertently, dominated the interview. I’ve been interviewing people professionally — first as a radio journalist, then as a filmmaker — for almost 20 years. Every interview is different, every situation throws at you a number of challenges and variables. But you can overcome them — or at least minimise their disruptive impact — if you follow some very basic rules. 1. Define and understand why you interview that person. It seems like an obvious thing to do, but defining why we want to interview someone is as important as defining why we want to create the video in the first place. Who is the primary audience and what is the format of the final piece you’re producing? What does the interviewee contribute? Are you after some short soundbites? Or do you need a...