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How to Conduct an Interview
Interviews are the foundation of Documentary Films, and News Broadcasts.
They take a lot of preparation, research and planning but they are so fun to do.
There are 2 parts that go into conducting an interview, the technical and the asking the questions. Both require a good level of skill and preparation.
Part 1: The Technical Part
Where are you putting the cameras?
Across from the interviewer, if you have a 2nd camera it can go off to the side.
Where is the interviewer sitting?
Usually slightly left or right of the camera. The interviewee looks at the interviewer, and not directly into the camera.
How are you framing the interviewee?
Framing is usually rule of 1/3s with the interviewee slightly cheated with talk room on the side they are facing.
How many cameras are you using?
1, 2, 3? You will want to sync the cameras with a slate or a hand clap. 1 should be primary/main camera, 2nd can be side angle, wide angle or b-roll camera. B-roll can consist of close-ups of hands, eyes, etc. Also, pick up b-roll shots of the interviewee and the environment, if it makes sense for the story.
What kind of mic are you using?
If you are using a wired microphone the cord can not be showing.
Do you need any lighting?
If you need lighting do not over power any outlets, also be careful of shooting near windows. If your subject turns into a silhouette you will want to reposition.
Tech check everything prior to you interviewee getting into position.
PRO TIP - Tech check all equipment prior to your shoot.
Prepare SD cards,
Choose your lenses, how do you want your images to look?
Select and charge/get batteries for microphones
Part 2: Asking the Questions
Research your topic, and the person you are interviewing.
Prepare open-ended questions for your interviews. (Not Yes or No Answers). Ask WHY questions, and feelings questions.
Your questions should build on one another, and go in a direction you researched to help tell the story.
Ask the interviewee to restate your question in their answer.
Tech check all of the equipment prior to the interview.
Thank your interviewee for their time and the interview.
Mic them up and make sure your mic cable is NOT showing.
Ask your interviewee to say and spell their name.
Make sure you get their title.
Get a business card or take a picture of it with your phone.
Actively listen to their answers.
PAUSE after each answer the question to ensure a clean edit and bonus - you'll get more responses. People get nervous in the silence.
If you don't get a clear answer say, "Can you tell me more about that?" OR, re-ask the question.
Feel free to ask topic relevant, spontaneous questions, but be respectful of their time.
At the end of the interview check with your camera person/your team to see if anyone has a question they would like to ask. The observers often have the best questions.
Finally, ask the interviewee, " Is there anything you would like to say, or anything you wished I asked you about?"
Thank them again for their time.
Send them a thank you note or email.
You can transcribe your interview using the microphone and google docs.
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