Reality TV - Advanced Interview Techniques & Composing Interview Shots

Advanced Interview Techniques

Now that you know what to ask during interviews, here’s something to help you with more difficult tasks such as getting the shot ready or dealing with problematic subjects.

Composing Interview Shots

All shows have a certain format with which they conduct interviews; wherever you’re shooting, the basic format for the shot remains the same.

“I once cut a show where the characters were so ill-spoken that we had to cut together sentences as well as cut around some nose picking, usually [a bad interview] is just a result of dumb mistakes on part of the interviewer. Frame your character correctly. Don’t talk over a character. If it sounds okay once, get it again and better. Have your subject take off noisy jewellery. Ask all the questions on your list and at least three off the top of your head. It can mean the difference between a bite and a frankenbite.” – Heather J. Miller, Supervising Producer 

Placing a subject in the center of a shot is very visually boring because it gives the feeling of stagnancy. Try either placing them to the right, facing slightly to the left of the camera, or place them on the left and have them look slightly to the right of the camera.

Position yourself (the interviewer) where you want the subject to face, and remain lens height so that you and the subject are on the same eye level. Stay close to the camera, and remain on the opposite side of the camera as the subject.

For dramatic effect, you can have the subject look into the camera when they’re talking to a cast mate who isn’t present; it’ll have a strong impression if used sparingly.

Checking Your Audio

While the sound mixer’s duty is to be wary of pesky background sounds, everyone gets distracted, so you should be sure to keep an ear on what’s going on while you’re conducting your interview.

Pay special attention to the following annoyances:

  • Whispering from cast and crew
  • Faint music
  • Cell phones
  • Alarms
  • Traffic
  • Animals
  • Noisy jewelry

If you do hear something, it’s likely that the audio supervisor has already noticed it, but if they haven’t, then wait for a break, and point it out to them.

Keeping Your Eyes Peeled

Just as there may be audio issues, there may also be some visual disturbances which can mess with your interview. Watch out for the following:

  • Crew in shot
  • Lighting issues (try to stay away from windows)
  • Flies or bees
  • Indecorous items
  • Boom in shot
  • Hair flyaways

Watch out for these common pesky things, and you’ll help your crew get the best material.

While external sources can cause problems with an interview, sometimes it’ll be the subjects themselves who are the biggest issue.