Interviews are essential to the work we do at SPELLNET and drive the stories of our videos. In order to conduct a successful interview, it’s important to know the subject and understand the bigger picture surrounding the interview; how will this be used in the final product? Here are some best practices to get the most out of your interviews:
1. Research & Outline
Once you have identified the interview subject, take some time to learn about that person and the project at hand. What do you want to say in the overall piece, and how will the interview drive that message? The questions you ask should establish the message and orient the audience through the piece. I like to write my questions in a linear style; this doesn’t mean you’ll ask them this way, but it makes it easier to visualize the overall story and how it progresses through the questions.
2. Prepare As Much As Possible
Since your time with your subject is limited, it is important to be prepared. If it’s a video interview, you will need video release forms and a shooting area ready to go. Arrive on location early and test your equipment before the interview. This also applies to an audio-only interview; make sure your equipment is functioning and you have what you need!
3. Prepare Your Subject
Some subjects have been media trained and fully understand what they need to do, but most people you’ll encounter have limited experience being interviewed, or being on camera. You’ll be able to determine pretty quickly what bucket your subject falls into. Answer their questions as well as you can and identify what you’ll be asking about. This will help the subjects to orient themselves into the context of the interview.
Another nice benefit of these practices is having less work to do in post-production, since you’ve outlined your story and how your interview integrates into it. Most of the stress I’ve experienced in editing interviews is when the planning process was ignored or rushed, affecting the usability of the interview and the piece altogether. The extra time spent on planning your interview will pay off- and you will do your subject and piece justice.