When Filming Interviews

I have been rather busy as of late (which explains my lack of posts). In February I had picked up several projects. Two of the projects I had picked up last minute. One was for some adoption fundraiser thing, for which I was recommended by a friend. The other was directly from an ongoing client. I do some video work for Sandhills Community Church here in Columbia, SC from time to time. I don’t attend this church (I go to Midtown Fellowship), but I have a good relationship with the staff members thanks to my roommate and his twin brother, who just happens to be on staff part time.

We got a call a few days before asking if we were willing to film an interview on homosexuality and the church. Or how my roommate asked me without context: “Do you want to film a gay interview?” I was a bit baffled by this. He then explained that someone had asked the Sr Pastor if he could ask him some questions. He wanted it filmed but explained his equipment was rubbish. As a result, I got called in.

Now, this post is NOT about homosexuality in the church and I do not wish to start an argument about that here. This is a very politically and socially charged subject best saved for another time and place.

No, instead I am talking about some of my views on how an interview should be conducted. While I have next to no education or experience in journalism (i’m not even that great of a writer), I do have some experience with conducting interviews. While both filming and editing the interview, I noticed several things that the interview could have done better. These are not criticisms. I know i sucked at interview people. It takes time to learn this sort of thing. It is a trial by fire.

1. RELAX. I admit, being in front of 2 cameras, 3 lights and a couple microphones can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating for anyone. If you are in front of the camera, ignore them. I’ve interviewed a handful of missionaries in Europe who we not too comfortable being placed in front of the camera, but once we got started they did fine.

2. Have a conversation. You are asking questions. When interviewing someone, that’s what you are doing. But this isn’t a test. It is an interaction with another person. While the pastor in this case is used to being in the spotlight and is comfortable in the situation, making it more of a conversation makes everyone more relaxed.

3. The question list is only a guide. Go with the flow. What i learned was that the hardest interviews were then ones where i followed the questions I had written before hand. Know what you want to ask, but throw in more questions to build off what your subject is saying. There could be some good information that you are missing because you didn’t follow through.

4. Speak clearly. I admit that talking is not my strong point. Comes with being an introvert and being a rather shy/quiet kid (i still am a bit shy as an adult). Speaking clear in an interview is key. You want the person to know what you are asking. I have had to rephrase questions on several occasions because the question didn’t come out quite right.

5. Be confident. Don’t be afraid or nervous. This point is key, if you are not confident then every other point I listed will fall apart.

6. Have a beginning, middle, and end. The interview should progress along a linear pattern. This is why i say let it flow. It is more natural and you won’t be jumping all over the place. It makes editing a lot easier. If you don’t, the it makes the editing process a lot more tedious than it should be. You’ll have to rearrange things around in post to give it a nice flow and then figure out a way to cover up your cuts. In this case, I don’t have any b roll to work with making it challenge to make the whole thing look unified.

There is more that could be said. For now, however, i think these points are key for any interview. I should keep the basics of the points in mind as I am about to go in for a job interview in a week. Different kind of interview, but the principles apply no matter what side of the interview you are on.

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