Reality TV - Interviews vs. OTFs

Forecast Bites

Forecast bites are small clips that leave a hanging question about the future of the characters. Ask cast members how they think a certain event will affect them, or someone else. It’ll set up a certain vision for the rest of the storyline, perhaps even building up a side story. These forecasts can be used to close out episodes, and give the audience something to revisit during consequent episodes.

It’s also perfectly fine to ask the talent to say something pre-scripted in response to a question. However, some people can get hostile because they may think you’re putting words in their mouth, so cushion the question by adding on something like “Please say this if you agree with it.”

Get as much material as you can, even if you think you won’t be using it in postproduction. Sometimes you may end up needing extra footage, and it’s always better to have extra than to have too little. If you’re having a field producer conduct interviews for you, remain respectful and always make sure they know why you’re asking them to bring in certain content.

“Story Producers need interview bits that tie it all together and cover anything that might not have been caught on-camera. Their job is tough because later in post, they only have the footage that the Field Producer has shot and given them to work with. If the Field Producer doesn’t deliver on what’s needed then it isn’t happening…period. There’s no going back.” – Michael Carroll, Producer

 While it is important to get all the content possible, it’s also important that the responses you receive during the interviews are as concise as they can be. Even a 30 second response is about 2% of a normal 30 minute show. If someone’s giving a particularly detailed response, let them finish up, and then ask them to recap the same response.

If you’re pressed for time, listen to the breaks in responses, and see if fragments will work just as well as full responses. Editors can often easily cut down sentences to short phrases, and the result will work out fine in postproduction. More on this later.

When scripting content, there are a few different schools of thoughts. Some think you should get the before, during, and after version of every action, as this is most likely to get you the most source material. It’s important to have all three versions of the questions you ask, since these differing perspectives give you more options during postproduction.

Suppose James makes surfboards. He knows Erica smashed up her own board, so he decides to give one of the boards he made to Erica.

Q: So imagine you just saw Erica’s board get destroyed. Tell me what happened and what you’re going to do so that she can stay in the competition.

A: Erica messed up her board, but she’s really worked hard and come this far, so I’m going to give her one of my own boards so she can still compete.

Q#2: Let’s say you’re giving the board to Erica right now. Let’s talk about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

A#2: I’m giving my longboard to Erica because I don’t want to see her lose just because she doesn’t have anything to surf on.

Q#3: Imagine you just gave your board to Erica. Why did you do that?

A#3: I gave my custom made longboard to Erica  because I would have hated it if she had to go home just because she didn’t have her own board.