How To Interview People For A Video
Often, video content is fine as a series of shots with some music, or with a voiceover explanation. But audiences also engage with real people, so the ‘talking head’ style of interview video is a popular and successful format.
But working with screen talent can be difficult. In many ways it is much more challenging than filming shots of action or objects, because people are prone to mistakes. They get nervous. If you are interviewing someone for your video – maybe a customer, a coach, a member of staff – it is unlikely they will get everything right the first time.
The most important thing is to help them relax. In a video interview situation, there will be a lot of equipment and people very close to them. There will always at least be a camera which can be nerving at the best of times, but also possibly a bright light in their face, cables and microphones, and a whole group of people closely examining every word they say. So make yourself the focus for them. Tell them to ignore the rest of the crew, relax, and speak to them in a calm and friendly manner as if you were just having a one-to-one talk with them.
If you are using a lavalier mic, tell them how to clip it on rather than instantly doing it for them. Give them control over their own body and don’t crowd them. But say clearly that you can clip it on for them if they like, which nine times out of ten they probably would, because it is unusual equipment for them. If you do interviews a lot it is easy to forget that the person you’re interviewing probably does not, so don’t just charge in and start attaching things to their clothes without warning.
Do not be afraid to ask them to repeat an answer again. You are all there to get the best video you can, and you only have on opportunity to get it right. If you are not happy with an answer the interviewee gives – maybe they speak too quickly, ramble, umm and err, or maybe a siren went past in the background.
Don’t worry about asking them to say it again, but make it clear why. If you want a shorter answer, say something like “That was great – all we need is to get a version in one sentence, so if you could condense what you’ve said into a few words then we’re nearly done.” This means they will not make the same mistake twice.
Plan your questions carefully before you begin. Preparation is the key to success in nearly everything, and video production is no different. Go into the interview knowing exactly what you need to get out of it – a beginning, a middle and an end with some extra bits for the editor to play with. If you can, give the interviewee the questions beforehand so they have time to at least think about what they will say. If during the interview they say they need five minutes to think about something, go ahead and let them have a break. The answers will be so much better when they are rested and comfortable.
Whatever you do, make sure they are at ease and in a situation where they will give you the best answers for your video. Remember that at the end of the day, they are only human. You can try your hardest to get people to say the right things, but sometimes they just will not be able to. Then it’s a case of either finding an additional interviewee who can offer some more clarity, or adapting your video content to make the best you can with what you have.
-The team at Monkey Reel Media