Setting up the interview – Part 10: How to make a (good) promotional film
This is the latest instalment in our How To Make A (Good) Promotional Film series. If you missed previous posts or want to go right back to the beginning and find out what it’s all about, click here. New instalments will be released every Friday. Click here to have them emailed straight to your inbox the moment they go live.
Unless your film is led by a voiceover or subtitles, interviews are the key narrative part of your film. So you need to get them right. Before you can even think about asking any questions, you need to make sure that everything is set up correctly.
Choosing the right background helps gives the right impression of the company and the person you are interviewing.
A background to an interview should be:
- Interesting and relevant:
Maybe we can we see their technology, lab, office or test room
- Reflect the job role/expertise of the interviewee:
e.g. offices for the MD or the assembly plant for the Chief Engineer
- Just a background!:
The interview shouldn’t interact with their background or refer to anything in shot, as this causes complications when splicing different sections in the edit.
- Sound is everything:
So however good a background looks…if you can’t get clean interview sound then don’t do your interview there!
Positioning and eye-line
This is a matter of style and taste, but you want to consider where the interviewee is sitting and in which direction they are looking:
- Looking straight into the camera or to an off-camera interviewer?
- Full body, waist up, shoulders up, or full face?
- One or two angles on the interview (thus one or two cameras)?
- Sitting or standing (the priority is to make sure they don’t sway, swing, shuffle or fidget)?
Interviewees need to be well lit. If the light is glinting off their glasses, it’s distracting. If they’re half in shadow, it looks like an issues-led documentary.
- Good lighting is when you don’t notice it:
The subject is well lit, the backdrop is complementary, and you can’t see any spotlights, shadows or glare.
- Natural light is quicker and easier:
But watch out for glare, squinting, and changing light conditions. Plus outdoors is often noisy and harder to manipulate!
- More lights can mean better lighting:
But it also increases set up time, cost, and the room can get awfully hot!
The cameraperson will roll their eyes at this one, but sound is everything in an interview. If the picture doesn’t work, you can still use the sound content and choose never to show your subject. If the sound is spoilt, then you’ve got no interview at all.
Watch out for any of the following, all from personal experience – hit play to see if you can catch snippets of what we were contending with!
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC!
LOUD CONFERENCE CALLS NEXTDOOR!
COWS! (There’s definitely a moo in this one!)
SCHOOL BREAK TIME!
OR the interviewee shuffling, foot tapping or slapping their thighs! (I won’t name and shame for this one!)
And remember, if you’re recording your picture and sound separately, and don’t have the fancy new software or a nifty gadget, a good clap goes a long way.
Now your interview is set up, you’re ready to start asking questions. Up next, Part 11 – Asking the questions.
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