How to Conduct Interviews On-Camera

These days, print journalists and freelance writers engage in a variety of multimedia roles. One of the most demanding is video production, which deals with loads of equipment, crews, time and energy. Unlike articles, when a video interview goes badly, you can’t rephrase information or add research to save the final product. You must always get the best out of your subject and raise the profile of your production.

To produce a good on-camera interview, you must prepare properly beforehand. A great interview is informative, entertaining and presented in an appealing manner. It also requires the right person in the right environment, where the interviewee appears comfortable and credible. However, when you need someone to share their input in front of a camera, many things can get it the way. Here are a few techniques to make the process a lot smoother.

Prepare the Interviewee
Before you begin, describe the process to your subject. Demonstrate the filming equipment and explain how filming may stop from time to time to account for unwanted background noise or other environmental factors. Tell them where they need to be positioned and certain segments may be recorded again for editing purposes. Give your subject an overall view of what you are going to discuss doing the interview, but avoid giving them a list of the questions beforehand. You don’t want rehearsed answers, but more spontaneous, natural responses. Let them know that some questions may be repeated.

Set the stage
Interview locations and backgrounds can provide context and reinforce credibility of a source. If a subject is a doctor, film them in their clinic. If they’re a teacher, have them positioned in front of a classroom. Make the setting as interesting as possible. For example, dress up a drab office by organizing the area and repositioning furniture. And if you are filming a subject in an office, don’t trap them behind a desk, but place them in front of it.

Ask and Ask Again
There are subjects that are very articulate, in which case, you’ll have a productive interview. Occasionally though, you’ll come across some sources who are brief in their responses. Yes and no answers don’t edit well in a film interview. And if that’s all you get, the entire footage may be unusable.

When faced with a tough interview subject, redirect or rephrase the questions and keep repeating them again and again. The more times the subject is asked a question, they eventually begin to think about their answers and open up more. Keep repeating questions until you get a genuine response from the interviewee.

Most people are not very comfortable speaking in front of a camera. Don’t allow your subjects to look into the camera. Focus them answering your questions as if you’re both having a conversation, rather than looking directly into the camera lens. This will ensure they appear credible and cogent on film.

Wrap Up
At the end of interview, ask the subject if they have any final thoughts to add. Thank them for their time and let them know when the finished product can be viewed or made available to them. Make certain if it’s possible to return and do a follow-up in case additional footage may be needed.

Image courtesy of worradmu /

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