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Tips for shooting dynamic video interviews

Interviews are the main method for acquiring information from individuals. Study these 10 strategies to improve your interview skills.

Cover Photo:: Michael Pattinson, Public Domain

  1. If you wish to film someone, ALWAYS ask for permission before you start filming. If they do not give you their permission, please respect their privacy and do not film them.
  2. Know your interview location and how to get there.
  3. Pay attention to the background. Bright backgrounds like windows and white walls are slightly overexposed. Train your eye to search out good and interesting backgrounds for your subject.
  4. Place the camera next to your shoulder. During the interview, the subject should look at you, not at the camera.
  5. Eye line of subject and camera should be on the same level.
  6. Manually focus on the subjects face and lock the focus.
  7. Check if the microphone is working properly.
  8. Avoid unwanted background noise. Airplanes flying overhead, shopping-mall-music, the noise from an air-conditioner or computer fan mess up editing.
  9. Make your subject feel comfortable. Talk to your guests a few minutes before and after the interview.
  10. Ask open-ended questions. Questions that can be answered “yes” or “no” are closed-ended questions. They don’t contain much information of real value. Long questions are good.

Workshop: How to make a short documentary with a smartphone

Filming with a smartphone is fine. Bild: Intel Free Press, Mobile Video on Apple iPhone 5, CC BY-SA 2.0
Filming with a smartphone is fine. Bild: Intel Free Press, Mobile Video on Apple iPhone 5, CC BY-SA 2.0

Part 1: The best apps for making videos

Part 2: Mobile journalism must haves

Part 3: General filming tips

Part 4: Michael Rosenblum’s “five shot” method for meaningful video sequences

Part 5: Tips for shooting dynamic video interviews

Part 6: Working with video apps

Part 7: How to make a documentary

Part 8:  Further reading

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