Interviews are a great storytelling technique for documentaries, films and even YouTube videos alongside other tools such as voice-overs and stock video footage. In order to create great interview footage, there are a lot of things to consider. Let’s take a look at our top tips for how to film an interview!
How To Film An Interview: Top Tips
Discuss With Your Subject Beforehand
Remember to give your subject some direction before the shoot regarding how they should answer questions. For example, they should repeat or paraphrase the question posed when they answer, which helps you to avoid yes and no answers to questions that the audience aren’t hearing.
Your subject most likely won’t be an actor, also. Therefore, it’s important to make them feel comfortable and calm their nerves. Introduce yourself and your role beforehand, and explain to them what you want to achieve and what you would like them to do. Explain that they don’t need to nail it on the first try, and allow them to practice in front of the camera.
Shot Types & Framing
The first thing you need to decide on is which shot types you will use for your interview subject.
Mid shots and close-up shots work great for when somebody is just speaking in order to capture their expressions and gestures. A good idea is to use mid shots when somebody is speaking, and switch to close ups when your subject is saying something super important or emotional.
You also need to think about whether your subject should look at the camera or off camera. If your subject is speaking directly to the audience, they should speak to the camera. Looking off camera also works best for when your subject is answering interview questions. For this, they should look to the left or right of the camera, and you should place them in the opposite third of the frame using the rule of thirds.
Lighting & Sound
Your interviews should be well lit, with your audience being able to see and hear the subject clearly. If you have extra lighting equipment, consider using the three point lighting technique. Sound is also important, and lav / lapel mics work great for interviews. Check for any background noise, distractions or interference before you begin recording the interview, also.
Before filming the interview, you should ask your subject to answer the question in full. You may need to remind them as they go along, but its integral to the interview so that the audience understand what is going on. Your questions should be open-ended, and allow the subject to elaborate and go into detail.
Another thing to think about is your schedule. It’s generally the best idea to shoot your interview first because the answers you receive may help you decide what to include in the rest of your documentary or video.
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Don’t forget to also check out our articles on film distribution, top sites for indie filmmakers and creating a film press kit!