How To Interview

Rough ideas to be expanded upon, don't worry I'll get it sorted :)

Introduce yourself to the interviewee. If the interview is generic (eg interviewing a band at freshers ball) then it might be helpful to ask if there is anything they do or don't want to be asked.

If many interviewees, try to arrange them in shot and use camera mic rather than handheld, as it is difficult to move the microphone to who is talking quickly.

Using a tripod is essential wherever possible, a shaky shot will distract from the content. For very short interviews (primarily vox pops) filmed hastily, a shoudler-mounted shot will suffice. Alternatively, if the interviewees are sitting, kneel to steady the camera as much as possible.

It is best to ask the interviewee to look at the interviewer and not directly into the camera.

Different set ups for an interview - one shot, two shot standing (close up), two shot sitting (include more background,) over the shoulder shot, many person interview.

If you want the interviewer’s and interviewee’s faces to be seen, and one is a lot shorter than the other then asking them to sit down may be best so their heads are at the same level. If you do want them standing then inclines or stairs are useful (but don’t make them visible in the shot).

Having the camera looking up at the target (ie with it below their eye-level) adds a sense of power. Having the camera above eye-level looking down on a person makes them look inferior. Hitler was never filmed from above...

Content of an interview, notes from a media training day:

  • Find from the interviewee:
    • Who they are, what position/occupation they hold
    • What they think about a subject, or what happened
    • Where it happened
    • When it happened
    • What's the end result

Make the interview entertaining, or informative , or both. And try to get passionate, emotional quotes from the interviewee rather than focusing on getting them to recount basic information - remember, a presenter can state facts but only an interviewee can express the emotion that comes from their personal connection to the subject of the film.

'Sound Bites' are useful. IE key sentences which summarise the view of the interviewee. Especially useful for 'Vox Pops' where many different people are asked their opinion, usually without giving their name or position/occupation.

Paraphrasing what an interviewee said, in a concise way, is good. Backing it up and supporting it with the best section of what they said in the interview is important too.

Consider your relationship with the interviewee; you don't want to be on bad terms with them after the interview or its broadcast if you may need to interview them later for something else.

Nice introductory questions for an interviewee can make them more relaxed. Also it helps to talk to them before the interview so you both know what the other hopes to achieve from the interview, or topics they want to cover.

If interviewing a group, they may talk amongst themselves during the interview. This can give useful footage, and more honest opinions than might be achieved from a direct question.

More tips from a training session. Probably one given by Anna Bucks's mum:

  • Find a good background for interviews
  • Good shots/pans fro narrating over, ie a GV; General View
  • Sound bites, sum up a lot of views quickly
  • Piece to camera at end of report to conclude
  • 'Vox Pop' = Voice of Population. IE people in the street, no particular authority
  • 'Nat Sot' = Natural Sound. Used for a pause to separate sections
  • For editing, including an emotive interviewee is more interesting than bland factuals one. Can fill in facts by narrating etc.
  • 'Sequences', eg camera focuses on an arbitrary moving thing to caprue the setting.
  • Talk to interviewee before interviewing, makes them comfortable, arrange what direction/course they interview takes.
  • Make sure interviewee rephrases your question in their answer. (IE not a answer such as 'yes', but one such as 'yes, the sky is blue')
  • Have camera at eyelevel of interviewee
  • If interviewer also in shot then both at same level, eg sit down
  • Alternatively interviewer next to camera for best direction of their eyes relative to camera
  • Short answers from interviewees are easier to edit and follow
  • After conducting an interview, film cutaways etc. Shots of them in a natural pose, activity etc.
  • Don't open with familiar, common shots, start with something new and attention grabbing.
  • Pieve to camera in the middle of a report means emotive interview could be used to end the report.
  • "How do you feel about..." can get good emotive response, but don't include the question in the edit.