We have had over 15 years of experience filming interviews at Dream Engine, and as a result, we’ve picked up plenty of great tips that will help you get the best result from your upcoming interview.
Know Your Environment
The background of the interview is something that not many people will focus on, but it can really subtly inform the audience about the subject. A lot of this will come from your choice of interview location, which is a hugely important step to ensure the success of the interview. With this in mind, think of a few options that would suit your interviewee and the topics you will be asking them about. If your interviewee is a scientist, consider shooting the interview in a lab or a place relevant to their research. Same goes for other occupations, find something that has relevance and will add a little extra layer of meaning to the interview.
It is also important to take note of your environment in terms of sound. Can you hear the cafe next door? Traffic from the highway coming through the walls? Make sure to select a quiet location where you aren’t likely to be interrupted. This will save you time on the day, as well as in the editing process. Another thing to be wary of that you may find hard to hear on the day is air conditioning and appliances. If a fridge compressor is buzzing in the background it may not be loud enough for you to notice while filming, but can really make your audio sound average.
Visuals Tell The Story
Video is a visual medium (obviously), so the location of your interview is very important. It’s a key element in the storytelling aspect, as the location can reveal things about the interviewee and give them credibility. The best way to ensure that your interview goes smoothly is to find a place where your interviewee is comfortable. Consider the topic of the interview and find a related location that will assist in telling the story. Is the interview about a new scientific breakthrough? Film the interview in a lab or testing facility. You want to show the interviewee in their natural environment. This can’t always be arranged, however, so you should aim to at least have a visually pleasing background if the first option isn’t available. If it’s just a plain white background then what’s the point of using a visual medium like video?
Light it Up
Lighting is the most important aspect to ensure that you get a beautiful looking interview. Whilst a good camera will go a long way, it’s the lighting that really makes or breaks the shot. Over the past fifteen years, we’ve refined our setup to a consistent and beautiful look.
We commonly use a small, easily manageable lighting setup, with our main key lights being KINO DivaLights. They are cool to touch (great for long interviews when you don’t want your interviewee sweating) and with the included flozier (basically a thin white material placed over the light) the light is soft and adjustable. We also use the industry favourite Dedo lights, a compact, easily focused light that is extremely versatile. We most commonly use Dedos as a backlight, aiming down on the interviewee’s head, giving them separation from the background.
Choose the right lens
The right lens will really dictate the feel and look of the interview. Here at Dream Engine we usually go for a look where the subject is in sharp focus, while their background is subtly blurred. To achieve this look, we like to get as much separation as possible between the background, the subject and the camera. By opening up the lens’ aperture, you can achieve this look, but be mindful that if the subject rocks in their chair or moves a lot, you may have to keep an eye on whether they are moving out of focus. You should also frame the shot appropriately, give the subject some room to move but don’t be so far away that you lose that connection with the viewer.
Building Strong Rapport for Interviews
As veterans of interview filming, we know there is nothing more important to crafting a story than building up a rapport with our interviewees. Nervous subjects make for bad interviews, which means a bad video. By building a relaxed, yet professional atmosphere, we take the stress out of the interview process. By having a few warm-up questions and just running through what will happen throughout the interview, you will notice your subjects become more relaxed and open, giving you better responses.
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2002, and specialises in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience more effectively by using video.