That Is the Question: 9 Tips for Filming an Interview

At some point, it’s likely that you, a colleague, or even a client of yours will sit down for an interview for one of your videos.

Whether you’re curious about how the pros do it or want to shoot some footage yourself, here are nine tips for filming an interview that you’ll always want to keep in mind.

1. Choose The Right Subject

Choosing a subject for your interview is the first, and maybe most important, step of the entire process. After all, an interview is only as good as its subject.

The right subject will largely depend upon your goals for the video. But whoever you choose should be an expert on the topic at hand.

If you’re shooting a video on the history of your local government, for instance, you’d need to include a professional historian or someone with extensive knowledge of the area.

The more well-versed in your topic the subject is, the better your answers will be.

2. Determine The Best Microphone For Your Needs

If this is your first video shoot, you may think using the onboard microphone included with the camera is sufficient. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

No matter how nice your camera is, the onboard mic is almost always low quality.

Your footage will come out muffled and unclear and you’ll need to spend additional time in the editing bay attempting to fix it.

Instead, you’d be better served by choosing either a lavaliere microphone or a shotgun microphone (which becomes a boom when placed on a pole). Both are commonly used in your favorite television shows and films, and both tend to get pretty good results.

With that said, you’re likely best off with a lav mic with omnidirectional audio. They’re unobtrusive and tend to work best in an interview setting.

3. Don’t Forget To White Balance

This is so important, even if you’re only shooting B-roll for your video.

Always, always, always make sure that your properly white balance your camera before shooting your footage.

Though plenty of consumer-grade cameras have an auto white balance feature (AWB in your settings, most likely) you’ll want to turn off this seemingly helpful feature immediately.

If you leave white balancing up to your camera, you’ll come out with uneven, washed out shots that will take away from your awesome subject matter.

4. Find The Right Background

Most people don’t consider the significance of an interview’s background. But as you watch the news this evening, pay attention to the types of backgrounds they choose for their interviews.

Notice how they often choose plain or unobtrusive backgrounds like a wall or a cityscape.

Why is this?

In short, because it presents something interesting for the eyes to focus on while our brain pays attention to the subject matter. The right background should be interesting yet go almost entirely unnoticed by the viewer so it doesn’t take away from the speaker.

Greenscreens are always a great choice as you can edit in your own background later on.

5. Give Yourself (Or Your Editor) Editing Points

Video editing is a part of the production process that most people either love or hate. It’s during the post-production process that your video begins to take form into the powerful final product you’re looking for.

But it’s also an intensely meticulous process, taking hours upon hours — sometimes only to splice a few seconds of footage just right.

Do yourself or your friends in the editing bay a huge favor and shoot three extra seconds before and after each take. This gives the editors an easy way to splice in footage without cutting off the speaker’s first words.

6. Expect To Film The Interview Multiple Times

There’s a good chance that at least one of your subjects will feel nervous about appearing on camera. One great way to make them feel more comfortable is to film multiple takes.

Plus, this gives you more footage to choose from in the editing bay.

Let’s say your subject gave a great answer to a question on your initial take, yet slipped up a bit on the second take. However, they answered your second question way better the second or third go around.

Since you’re shooting multiple takes, you’ll have no problems splicing together segments of each take into one seamless interview.

Along those lines, shoot multiple takes from different angles, as well. Variety is the spice of life, and that’s no exception in the world of video production.

7. Write Creative Questions

At the end of the day, your interview is only as strong as your questions. Take a creative approach when writing your questions, and you’ll get far better results.

Think about the viewer as you craft your questions. What would you like to know if you were the one watching your video?

As a brief aside, let your subjects have access to the questions ahead of time. That way they can best prepare their answers and may even provide you with supplementary information such as photographs or documents.

8. When In Doubt, Shoot A Medium Close-Up

Video production offers a ton of freedom and creativity. But sometimes nothing beats a good, old-fashioned medium close-up.

The MCU, as it’s colloquially known, is the golden standard for most interviews, as it hides your microphone while highlighting the subject matter.

If you want to have some fun with your shots, shoot at a slight angle, with the subject looking at you instead of the camera.

9. Have The Subject Rephrase The Question As A Statement

This is a tip that most people don’t think about until it’s way too late. It makes sense, too, as it’s an unnatural way to answer a question.

Still, having subjects rephrase your question as a statement can add a level of professionalism to your video.

Let’s say you’re asking your subject to explain what their charity does.
Their natural tendency will be to answer something akin to, “Well, we like to do X, X, and X, and believe Y.” If you were viewing that, it’d make no sense, would it?

But if they say, “Here at [Charity] we strive for X and achieve that through Y,” you’ll have a more well-rounded answer. It provides the name of the charity, their goals, and how they achieve them. It’s a full answer that’s going to give the viewer far more info.

Final Words On Filming An Interview

Filming an interview can be an intense process, but if you prepare with these tips, you should knock it out of the park.

And remember, if you’re looking for some help at any step of the process, from scripting to post-production, we’re here to help.

Get in touch with us today for a free quote and learn about how our video production services can save you time and money while providing you with an exceptional product.

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