We've filmed hundreds of interviews at Story Ninety-Four and we confidently say that mastering interviews is one of the best skills to learn as a videographer.
Filming an interview requires a lot of planning, equipment, and knowledge as it includes creativity, audio recording, lighting, camera operation, and asking the interview questions.
Location & Background:
The first thing you need to consider when filming your interview is the location and background. You need to make sure that the location is suitable for filming in and background supports the tone and messaging of your story. The biggest mistake made when filming an interview is choosing a unsuitable location that is either too noisy or not true to your story.
There are a lot of different ways to light an interview. As with the location and background, your lighting needs to support the tone and message of your story. Common lighting techniques such as the 3-point lighting set up are great for a neutral classic look interview. Other more extreme lighting techniques such as high-key or low-key lighting can create a bright, positive tone or a darker, moody tone respectively.
Often interview dialogue is the only dialogue in videos, therefore it is paramount that you record good clean audio. When we refer to clean audio we mean audio that is clear without distractions such as echo, background chatter or traffic noise.
To record clean audio you need to make sure you're filming in the right location, large rooms with hard walls will create a harsh echo and reverb. You can reduce this by using furniture or sound blankets to prevent sound waves bouncing off the walls. Background chatter and traffic noise must be kept at a minimum to prevent it contaminating the recording. Some background noise can be removed in post-production however it is best to record it clean on set.
Your choice of microphone is important in this stage as that will affect your recording. Shotgun or boom microphones need to be positioned as close to the subject as possible whilst also remaining out of frame. Lavalier microphones should be clipped to the clothes of the subject close to the mouth.
When filming interviews you can choose to film with one camera, or several. At Story Ninety-Four we film all of our interviews with two cameras, one as a medium shot and the other a close up. We do this so that we can cut between the two cameras and remove unnecessary sections or filler words.
Make sure you position your cameras at eye level for the subject so the viewing isn't looking up or down at the person being interviewed. Also make sure you position the subject so that there is more space in front of their face than behind, and not in the centre of the frame.
The final stage in filming an interview is the interview itself. Make sure your subject is comfortable and has a glass of water on hand.
Before you go straight into asking the questions, have a quick conversation with them about their day to help put them at ease. Being filmed can be a stressful experience for many people so you want your subject to be as comfortable as possible.
Ask the questions slowly and make sure they rephrase the question in the answer. For example:
"What is your name and what do you do at Story Ninety-Four?"
"My name is Matt and I'm the founder and principal filmmaker at Story Ninety-Four"
Pay attention to the answers they give, don't worry if you need to ask them to answer the question again. A great interviewer will listen to the answers and ask follow-up questions to explore their answer in more detail.