So you want to film the best cinematic interview ever to grace the screen?
You may not know exactly what makes a great interview (don’t worry, we’ll tell you), but we bet you’ve witnessed a bad one that’s made you cringe. We’re also guessing you don’t want to be that person known for filming an awful interview.
So we’re going to tell you how to film an interview step by step to save the world from yet another cringe-worthy video.
Why Is It Important to Know How to Film an Interview?
First, you’re guaranteed to mess it up if you go into filming an interview without doing research and without having done it before. So, of course, it’s important to know the best techniques and practices to have a fighting chance of producing something worth watching.
Like all genres of video, interviews have a certain look and style. So if you do something drastically different from the norm when filming an interview, it’s going to stand out like a slap in the face.
For example, have you ever seen an interview where it’s hand-held and tight on the interviewee’s face? We sure hope not! A shaky camera and close-ups of the interviewee’s wrinkles and nostril hairs aren’t what people sign up for when they watch an interview.
The point of an interview is to draw the audience into the unique story the interviewee has to tell. We want to hear the intonations in their voice and see their use of body language as they express their experience.
How you frame an interview can contribute to how viewers interpret what they see and hear. So, get the framing wrong, and you could end up skewing the entire message.
We do not need to be distracted by bad audio and lighting, either. So, it’s vital that how you shoot the interview isn’t taking away from the story.
How to Film an Interview and Best Practices?
So you want to know how to film an interview so it’s the best it can be? Of course, you do. So let’s get straight into our step-by-step guide.
1. Position Your Camera Correctly
Do you have one interviewee? Then position your camera to one side. If you look at any (good) interview, you’ll see this is a running theme. The purpose of this camera position is to address the off-camera interviewer that the on-screen person is speaking to.
But what if your interviewer is on-screen, too? In that case, have each person sit on opposite sides of the screen, close enough that their knees could touch. You can also film over one person’s shoulder to capture the speech of the other.
2. Add Some Depth
Do not, repeat, do not push your interviewee against a wall. The entire shot will look flat and, frankly, boring.
Instead, move your interviewee as far away from the wall as possible to create some depth behind them. Keep the background simple, so it’s not distracting, but think of elements to add in so it’s not entirely plain.
For example, using plants in the background can add colour and texture to the shot. However, a cute dog jumping on the couch behind your interviewee isn’t the brightest of ideas.
3. Get the Lighting Right
Let’s not beat around the bush – you need to follow this three-point lighting technique when filming an interview:
– Main Light: This is the most important light. Place this light at roughly a 45-degree angle from your interviewee, and close to the camera.
– Fill Light: This light goes opposite the main light to help fill in the shadows.
– Backlight: Again, this light goes 45 degrees from your interviewee. Position the backlight high and to the side of them, too.
As with every aspect of filming, always check this lighting on the day when you have your interviewee in place. Ensure no light is competing with another before shooting.
4. Don’t Forget the Audio
If there’s one thing our video production company in Manchester will never stop trying to express, it’s that bad audio kills video. Of course, if you’ve read your fair share of articles about filmmaking, no matter the type of filmmaking, this isn’t news to you – and there’s a reason everyone goes on (and on) about audio.
A somewhat shaky shot here or a slightly dark scene there isn’t usually a big deal. But if the audio is too loud, pops, or crackles, that’s all your audience will focus on going forward. Of course, that’s if they even carry on watching!
So, pull all of your audio resources together and use them. You want a shotgun microphone directly above your interviewee’s head but out of frame. If you can add a lavalier microphone, too, that would be even better! Nothing beats crisp and clean audio.
5. Make Your Interviewee Feel Comfortable
This tip may not be technical, but you cannot let it slip by you. If your interviewee doesn’t feel relaxed, guess what? No matter how beautiful your lighting and depth of field look, the interview will suck.
No one is going to notice the gorgeous lighting when the person on the screen looks like they’d rather be doing anything else.
So, be friendly, explain everything that’s happening, and put your interviewee’s mind at ease from the get-go.
Our tips above are all you need to shoot a cinematic interview. Filming an interview isn’t like filming a movie. There are no fancy shots to capture, but there is a story to capture, which should be the focus.
So, as long as your interviewee is relaxed, the background isn’t distracting, and your audio is on point, you can’t really go wrong.