The impact of video storytelling often hinges on the characters and in many cases, comes down to how well these characters tell their story on camera. This can present a number of challenges and create some anxiety.
How should you approach and conduct an interview to put yourself and your subject in the best position to succeed? We are sharing five things to remember when conducting on camera interviews.
Share Topics, Not Questions
Some of the anxiety on the interviewee side is related to the unknown. The unknown being the questions. If individuals are already uncomfortable on camera, they tend to over prepare or try to memorize. This is the worst thing that can happen. Memorization is a recipe for disaster. Mess up one word, mess up the whole delivery.
I suggest being very weary of sharing the actual questions. Instead, share general topics or conduct a pre call to talk through the goals of the piece. There will be certain scenarios where higher ups request the questions for legal purposes. In that case, hand them over — but make that a last resort.
Make it Conversational
If you are taking the interview style approach, make it as conversational as possible. This starts with reminding the interviewee that they will be looking at you instead of the camera.
Some of the normal tactics of strong communication apply here. Make eye contact while using a relaxed delivery. This will put the subject at ease. The last thing you want is a nervous subject. That nervousness will be felt directly by the viewer and will strangle getting great answers.
Don’t Check Boxes
Listen to your interviewee. What I mean by that is to ask the question, engage and have a conversation. Too many times I have seen interviewers stare at their sheet of questions with the goal of simply checking off the questions answered. If you’re staring at your questions, you’re not truly listening. By not being engaged, this closes the door on the potential of getting emotional responses or asking your subject to elaborate on a critical part of their story.
At Spiracle Media, we focus on 4-5 points max during an interview. The rest of the time is reserved for follow ups. You should also consider asking some softball question off the top to get your subject warmed up. Save the best for last.
Ask Relevant Questions
This sounds like a given, but you would be surprised how many times our partners submit questions that have nothing to do with the story. They get wrapped up in the “who” they’re interviewing, rather than focusing on their place within the story.
There are primary and complementary interviews. Primary interviews consist of the main character(s) that will drive the story forward. Who or what is the piece about? As for complementary, these interviews provide the key support. Each serves an essential purpose within the piece. With this in mind, tailor your questions to fit the role.
Simply ask a few of the following questions to yourself. What are they speaking to? Are they the main narrator or a bridge? Are they there for one specific sound bite or multiple?
This will help guide you with question generation. Most interviews go much longer than needed because of irrelevant questions.
Do Your Homework
Prep for your interviews. This can include reviewing the interviewee’s bio or running an online search. Building this knowledge base will give you more confidence to ask the right questions. It also provides additional context. This can go a long way with generating rapport on set.
I briefly mentioned this earlier, but pre calls with your main subjects are great opportunities to build trust and gather information ahead of the shoot. This takes away much of the awkwardness in meeting a person for the first time especially if the story deals with emotional topics.
These are all things that, if implemented, will work to your advantage. The main goal of every interview shoot is to put yourself (interviewer) and the interviewee in the best possible position to succeed.
Make it fun and conversational – the viewer will notice!