How to film interviews....from someone who has filmed a lot of interviews. There is no "right" way to film and interview. It's an art and it adds to the feeling and emotion of the story you're trying to tell. But as someone who has spent the last five years + filming interviews with everyone and anyone... here are a few things to consider before you set off on location!
Types of Setup.
There are two types of interview setups - Towards Camera and Off Camera.
Off Camera - This is where the subject is looking at you, the interviewer, slightly off to one side of the camera. This is a less direct, and easier to watch setup for your viewers as they can listen into your conversation and gain information in a passive manner.
Towards Camera - This setup has the subject talking straight down the camera lens. This is usually used for delivering information direct to the viewer. Charity appeals or Political broadcasts use this as they want the viewer to focus entirely on what is being said and act.
Ask for a quick tour around the location - this gives you the chance to find a place that will add to the story of your film.
If you’re interviewing a musician - is there a spot where you’ll see their instruments in the background or maybe the chair they sit in whilst they jot down their lyrics?
It doesn’t matter how big the room is, you’ll almost always find yourself squished in the furthest corner in the room. Why? Drop off. Unless you’re going for a deep focus look (where everything is in focus), you’ll want to create as much space between your subject and the background, this will create that cinematic shallow depth of field look.
The next big thing to think of before you start lugging all that equipment to your perfect spot is - are there any sounds that might get in the way?
Watch out for air conditioning vents, restroom hand dryers or even if you’re on a flight path - mics will pick all these up and you want the cleanest audio you can to give with your visuals.
If it all sounds quiet to you, then double check with someone who uses the space - they’ll know if Gary the ice cream man is likely to pop round halfway through your interview.
You’ve found your location and the sound is great. Now let’s think about lighting. This could be a blog in itself, but for now just have a look and see if there are any natural sources of light. Natural light is almost always the way to go, but be wary of intermittent clouds - it’s a pain to correct in the edit when the interviewee drops half a stop every few minutes.
Finally, the last thing to ask yourself if you have more than one interview and they’re talking Off Camera is “Can I flip this?”.
Flipping an interview is exactly what it sounds like - flipping your interview setup so the subject is facing either left or right of frame. This is a quick and easy way to turn around a set of interviews without compromising on the look and still adding interest. It also makes it a lot easier to cut between interviews in the edit!
And that’s your interview setup sorted. In the next blog I’ll cover tips to conducting and interview.
Meanwhile, if you have a project in mind drop me an email so we can work together.