Preparing for a Great Interview
The key to producing a great interview is knowing exactly how to prepare and following through on the extensive preparation before the actual interview. No matter whether you are filming an intense journalistic style interview or are preparing for a more casual type of interview, doing the proper preparation and understanding how to put an interviewee at ease make all the difference.
If you are preparing to film an interview, it goes without saying that you will be immersed in researching and familiarizing yourself with the content or subject area of the interview. While knowing your subject and researching your interviewee are vital to filming an informative and professional interview, it is critical not to overlook some of the seemingly basic aspects of the interview preparation. These tips include some of the necessary aspects of interview preparation that go well beyond knowing your subject matter.
Nailing Down Your Interview Approach
Well in advance of arriving for your interview, you should have as many logistical aspects of the interview planned out as possible. This includes considerations such as how many cameras you will use, how large of a camera crew you will need, whether you will take multiple shots of the interviewee’s answers and how long you plan the interview will run.
Depending on the subject matter of your interview, you will need to decide well ahead of time what kind of setting will be best for your interview. If you choose something more informal for your setting, such as an on-the-street type of interview, then you should be prepared for scheduling around traffic conditions and weather contingencies.
One of the major advantages of working with an experienced video production company to film your interview is that they will be able to consult with you on the ideal settings for making your interview as meaningful as possible. They can advise you on details you may not have considered in selecting your interview setting.
Putting Your Interviewee at Ease
The more prepared your interviewee is ahead of time, the more confident they will be answering your questions on camera. In addition to preparing the content of the interview with your interviewee, you should take the time to explain the overall purpose of the interview. The interviewee should feel comfortable with your approach to the questions and subject matter. If you intend to film a generally positive and upbeat interview, you should be as friendly and inviting with your interviewee as possible. This will help them to loosen up and appear less stiff when answering your questions on camera.
Having a Back Up Wardrobe for Your Interviewee
It is always important to make sure to give your interviewee clear instructions on what to wear for their interview day. Even when you give very clear instructions about wardrobe parameters and general appearance guidelines, your interviewees can fail to follow instructions and may show up in inappropriate attire for filming. For example, if you tell your interviewee to wear something they are confident in, you could have a problem if they show up in a multi-colored striped shirt to film against a colored backdrop. In light of these potential wardrobe mishaps, it is best to have some alternative choices in a size range that works for your interviewee. If you are filming the interview in a studio, it is much easier to plan for this contingency. In the event that you are filming outdoors, you should still come prepared with a basic wardrobe alternative just in case.
Anticipate Your Interviewee’s Insecurities
On the day of filming your interview, you will be moving as quickly as possible to get all of the necessary takes done in a short time frame. This means that you will not want to take frequent pauses or breaks so that your interviewee can check out how they look on the monitor or play back some of the takes. Insecurity when appearing on camera is only natural, especially for an interviewee who is not experienced with being on video. To help put your interviewee at ease, inspire confidence and keep the interview filming moving along, take a proactive approach to encouraging the interviewee and reaffirming that they look just fine on the camera.
When encouraging interviewees and letting them know that they look absolutely fine on the monitor, it is important not to come across as patronizing. Being as direct as possible and giving them clear indications that they look exactly how you planned is probably the best way to prevent any meltdowns.
Using a Stand-In for Set Up
Before your interviewee arrives on the location of the filming, it is best to be completely set up and ready to go. You should arrive early enough to be able arrange all of the settings. When planning for lighting, camera angles and backdrops, using a stand-in can help you notice any issues before your interviewee arrives. The more of the set up you can have complete before your interviewee shows up, the more streamlined the entire filming process will be.
One way to minimize stress levels on the day of the shoot is to have your supplies backed well ahead of time. Adjusting settings and conditions can be very time consuming and exhausting, so having all of your supplies packed and ready at least a day in advance can help prevent fatigue and many headaches on the day of filming.
Avoid Wearing Too Many Hats on Filming Day
If you are doing the actual interview, then playing the role of video producer may distract you from your job of producing quality interview content. Being able to focus on engaging with the interviewee and creating an engaging dialogue is critical to producing an interview that truly connects with the target audience. If you have to worry about lighting, camera angle, checking batteries, searching for equipment, reviewing takes and adjusting grips, you will be pulled in way too many directions and will not be able to focus on putting the interviewee at ease.
Although you are probably looking to keep costs as low as possible, working with an experienced production crew can make your job much easier and your interview actually worthwhile. The more relaxed and focused you are on creating great content, the easier the editing process will be. With the assistance of a trustworthy production crew, you can actually minimize costs of producing your video down the line because of the superior content you will be creating at the outset.
Choosing the Best Digital Production Agency for the Job
25 Customs Digital Production Agency is California’s leading video production agency. We have an expert team of cameramen, videographers, soundmen, directors and producers with the experience and talent to make your interview shine. With 25 Customs Digital Production Agency, you can expect professionalism, attention to detail and excellent customer service on every project. Whether you are filming a professional interview or something more casual, at 25 Customs Digital Production Agency, we have the credentials and passion to take your video projects to the next level.
15 Tips for the Best Interview Shots
At California’s leading video production agency, we believe that interviews are an important part of video marketing. While it may seem like interviews are easier since you do not have to create a script or plan out actors for the shot, they can actually be challenging to prepare. To make sure that your project has a professional appeal, you can use the following interviewing tips.
Get Prepared for the Best Interview
- Start by Researching Your Topic
Have you ever seen one of those interviews that makes you cringe? The interviewer tries to ask questions about the company or author, but it quickly becomes apparent that they just looked up the topic on Wikipedia moments before the show. You do not want to have this happen in your interview. Before the interview begins, read as much information as you can on the topic. If there are a lot of facts or statistics involved, make note cards so that you sound as knowledgeable as possible about the topic.
- Decide on Responsibilities
From one-man production studios to large news crews, you have to make sure that each person knows their exact responsibilities. If everyone knows what they are supposed to do, your interview can be conducted smoothly.
- Create Guiding Questions
You want to create questions that are open-ended enough to stimulate conversation and make the interviewee feel comfortable. A guided question works because it signals the type of answer you are looking for while leaving the actual content of the answer up to the interviewee. If you have prepared too many questions, it can appear to be rigid or scripted. Your goal is to get some guided questions prepared before the interview. If you know a lot about the topic, you will also be able to modify these questions to accommodate for the interviewee’s answers. You do not have to plan out the interview word-for-word, but you need to have a clear idea about where the interview is headed.
- Scout Out the Best Location
The majority of interviews take place on location, which means that there are a lot of variables to account for. Beforehand, check the location for lighting problems, sound issues, power outlets, echoes and other variables.
Lighting is one of the most important parts of a video production. You need to make sure that there is enough flood light to brighten the room, and the interviewee needs a key light on them. On the day of the shoot, make sure to adjust the lights for the skin tone and clothes that the interviewee is wearing.
- Bring Along Multiple Cameras
If you are using California’s leading video production agency, you will not have to worry about cameras. Otherwise, make sure that you bring along multiple cameras to the shoot. Having several cameras allows you to change angles throughout the interview for a more interesting video.
- Setting Up the Chairs
The most common and professional-looking set up is with two chairs facing each other. Afterward, a camera can be placed over each person’s shoulder. A third camera can be placed so that it shoots the entire scene as well. With two chairs placed in the room, you will have the best control over sound and lighting.
If you have the tools, make sure that each person in the interview has a personal microphone. When you are unable to do this, make sure to remove as much of the outside noise as possible.
Things to Keep in Mind During the Interview
- Listen to the Answers
If you just read questions off a list, it will make the interview sound scripted and less conversational. Instead, listen to the interviewee’s responses and adjust your next questions accordingly.
- Watch Your Camera
While it is easy to get absorbed in the interview, take time to pay attention to the camera. Cameras can stop taking or turn off during an interview, and you do not want to ask your guest to redo the entire interview due to a camera problem.
- Do Not Interrupt the Interviewee
Your interviewee is the entire reason that you have a video production crew on-site. Other than being impolite, an interruption could stop the interviewee from sharing an important insight or perfect soundbite. Even if the interviewee starts out with a response like “um”, you can always edit the sound out later. Nod along and get your guest to feel comfortable in the conversation.
Edit the Interview
- Use Reaction Shots
While the camera normally stays on the person talking, it is interesting to get nonverbal reactions from the guest and the interviewer. If you have more than one camera, add some reaction shots to the final video.
- Focus on the Lower Third
The lower third of the video screen can be used to provide information to your audience without having to include it in the interview. The interviewee’s name, story or professional details can easily be incorporated into this portion of the video.
- Stay Natural
Try to keep the interview as close to real life conversations as possible. Otherwise, the audience will feel like you fabricated or scripted the interview.
- Use B-Roll
B-roll is a cutaway shot that shows a different location. If your guest is talking about a hotel they set up in the Bahamas, a B-roll could show footage of the island. This technique breaks up the interview while making it more entertaining for the audience.