The essential guide to interviewing for video production: Part 1
When writing an article about interview techniques and formats, it’s probably worth taking a step back and actually identifying why we conduct interviews in the first place and what their actual purpose is within video production.
At its core, an interview is about finding out information.
But it’s also much more than that. An effective interview will enhance your audience’s knowledge and understanding of a topic, and allow a filmmaker or podcaster to present information to the audience. They offer an emotional insight into someone’s situation or perspective, and can share, express or explain a variety of opinions. However, for an interview to be effective, there’s a number of things to consider during the planning stage.
What type of approach is most suitable for the audience, the format of your film and for your interviewee? Are the questions going to be open or closed? Will they be direct or more open to suggestion?
Will your approach be investigative, promotional or a little more combative?
Be careful with the latter approach as it may affect the relationship you’re aiming to build with your interviewee. You don’t want to knock their confidence or alienate them as this will have obvious implications on your content.
Planning the structure of the interview is particularly important – you can’t just dive right into the ‘nitty gritty’, so first off, spend some time identifying how you intend to structure the interview. Start with some introductory or developmental questions that allow the interviewee to relax a little. Then, once you’ve warmed them up, you can start asking them your key questions. It’s worth noting that you also need to consider the editorial – will you need to ask any questions that prompt responses you know will make useful sound-bites further down the line? Do you need to build in any questions that might be useful as context-setters or final summaries?
It’s important to make sure you think about your own interpersonal communication skills – you may need to build your interviewee’s confidence or reassure them, so ensure your body language is appropriate and show that you are actively listening to them with reassuring ‘noddies’ (where you silently nod in agreement). Silent being the operative word here, as there is nothing more difficult during the editing phase of video production than trying to remove hundreds of ‘yes’s and ‘uh-hu’s from a recording.
There’s also various different formats of interviews so it’s essential that you pick the right one for the right job. In our next article, we’ll have a look at the benefits and disadvantages to each of these approaches, including what the differences are between formal and in-formal interview techniques, vox pops, sit-down interviews, ‘walk and talks’, and when it’s best to utilise each of these different approaches.
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