Monday, 11 November 2013

What to Expect When You're Expecting [to Be Interviewed]

There’s a surprising amount of work that goes into video production. Everything from the planning stages to the final airing of the finished product requires a lot of patience, organization, and attention to detail. The more I learn about production the more I realize how much we truly take for granted in every movie, television series, commercial, or web video we see. A thirty second commercial that you mostly ignore probably took weeks to complete and involved countless hours of hard work from many people.


When someone is tossed into this world and sees the magic behind the curtain it can be a bit overwhelming. This is usually the case with someone who sits down for a filmed interview for the first time; they see the lights, the sound equipment, several cameras pointed at them, and 5-6 people running around frantically trying to make sure everything is perfect. I’d like to help you avoid the inherent nervousness that can accompany this sort of situation. This is my guide on what to expect when you sit in that hot seat in front of all those cameras and lights.

When you finally get that perfect take.

1. Remember that if you look good, we look good. And trust me, we want to look good, so we will take care of you. This cannot be emphasized enough. It’s likely that the interview you’re doing will be cut, spliced, and stitched together in order to make your thoughts clear and concise. This doesn’t mean we’re going to cut your sentences in a way that makes you say something you weren’t trying to say, it means that we’ll help you make your point in the most graceful way we can. Often, an interviewee will slightly flub a word or briefly lose their train of thought and the idea that they messed up causes them to be more nervous than they already were. Just take a breath, gather your thoughts, and keep going, we’ll stitch it together later. If you nail it on the first take though, don’t be surprised if we ask you to do it again anyway, just in case! 



When we ask you the same question
for the 15th time.
2. It’s almost impossible to “over shoot.” We’re going to ask you to answer a lot of questions. Probably over and over again. This isn’t because you got something wrong or did a bad job, we just like to have a safety net in case there was something we missed, or you find a better way to say what you’re saying the 5th time around after you’ve really thought about it. There are a lot of reasons we might ask you to do a take over, so don’t assume it’s because you did something wrong. Just take that deep breath and go again!

3. It’s a conversation. There are a lot of different ways to conduct an interview, but typically the interviewer will be on either side of the camera and will ask you to look at them instead of into the camera. Wherever you’re asked to look, it’s pretty important to maintain that consistency. If you’re looking at the interviewer and all of the sudden glance into the camera it creates an unnatural scene. This is often referred to as ‘breaking the fourth wall’ and is usually not desirable. Focus on looking at the interviewer and speaking to them as if you were having a conversation and none of the equipment was around.

4. Well, it’s kind of a conversation... When the interviewer asks a question it’s easy to answer it without providing any context, as you would in real conversation. This is because everyone in the room just heard the question, so there’s no need to restate it. Except that in the video, odds are that the interviewer will not be heard. This means that if you answer without restating the question then there won’t really be much for us to pull from. For example, if the interviewer asks “Why do you think your company will be the next big thing?”, you shouldn’t say, “Because we’re awesome!” Instead, you should say, “My company will be the next big thing because.. [we’re awesome!]” This ensures that we can insert your response into the video and all the context of the original question is there.

5. What feels natural doesn’t necessarily look natural. There are a number of factors that affect the way the camera captures light, from aperture to shutter speed to the focal length of the lens. All of these factors and many, many more, affect the way we place you. This often involves sitting in chairs that seem too far or too close to tables, or with a posture that you wouldn’t normally use, or keeping your hands still and folded on your lap when you normally talk with them. Most of this has to do with the difference in perspective between what our eyes see and what the camera sees. It’s hard to give many ‘norms’ with this one as each situation is so drastically different. The one that I can say with some consistency though is that if you’re directed to sit in a chair, don’t move it (and if you’re on the production side, NEVER give the interviewee a chair that turns, rolls or moves in any way)! It’s ingrained in us to scoot a chair closer to the table when we sit in it, but chances are someone placed that chair exactly where it was supposed to be for the camera’s view. All this being said, let someone know if you’re uncomfortable, because if you’re uncomfortable, that’s just as likely to cause problems as whatever factor we were trying to adjust for.

When someone moves the chair we spent 20 minutes
painstakingly adjusting to the perfect position.

6. Relax. Easier said than done, but it definitely needs to be said. This all goes back to the first point I made, which is that the better we make you look the better we make ourselves look as a production company. It definitely requires a bit of faith, but you just have to trust that we’re going to make you look good. Don’t sweat the mistakes or nervousness, as those things tend to snowball and make themselves worse. Instead just relax and try again if you make a mistake, then let us take care of the rest.

7. Get your hair out of your face. This one is just practical. We want to see your face, not those cute bangs you love to hide behind when you’re nervous. So clip it back, tuck it behind your ear, do whatever you like to do so that we can best see and hear the insightful things you have to say!

What has your experience in front of (or behind) the camera been like? What sort of things can a director do to make you feel more comfortable in front of the camera? Let us know in the comments below or tweet @swagger_media. Thanks for reading!







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