Making an interview

Interviews are often integral part of promotional videos – in Aalto Snapshots they also play a big part in telling the story. Let’s look at how to make a good interview. In the optimal situation you have a crew of three people present in the interview situation:

1. The interviewer is the main person to be in contact with the interviewee. This helps the interviewee to feel at home and natural in the situation and to “forget the camera”. Aim for a feeling of a natural conversation but remember to keep absolutely silent when the interviewee is speaking!

2. The camera operator is in charge of the camera equipment and shooting.

3. The sound recorder is in charge of recording good quality sound and monitoring its level with headphones.

Make the interview situation calm and help the interviewee to relax to get a more natural on-screen presence. If the interviewee is nervous, it might be a good idea to tell him/her that it is ok to stop the interview at any time to have a pause or to repeat an answer. Reserving enough time for the interview will help.

The interview questions

Prepare a set of interview questions before the interview but leave space for improvisation. One way to come up with questions is to think about the subject from the point of view of the six basic journalistic questions – “the five Ws and one H”:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?

On top of these basic questions, ask for an illustrative example from an expert and for people’s personal experiences on the subject. The number and type of questions depends on whether the central pieces of information can be given on other ways as well in the video. For example in the snapshots videos a lot of the basic information about the projects is given in the infographics and the interviews are used mainly to pass personal experiences.

Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ because this kind of answers won’t work as such in the video, without using the question as well. Try to get feelings out from your interviewees: search for excitement, joy, anticipation etc. Nobody wants to see a speech robot reporting facts.

Try to get short and clear answers but don’t pressure the interviewee about it. Ask about the same thing many times in different words if that is needed to get a concise and clear answer. Tell the interviewee that he/she can stop at any time and repeat an answer if he/she is not happy with it.

Remember that the amount does not compensate for quality. If you are making a 5-minute video, you do not need an interview lasting for hours.  The snapshots interviews were about 20 minute long each.

Next: Making a nice interview shot.