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July 5, 2022

Video best practices: Interviews

Video Best Practices

So you want to make an interview video? Well, you've come to the right place. Video production companies like us do these a lot, and we've picked up on a bunch of tricks, techniques, and ideas on how to ensure: 

  1. You're getting the most relevant content into the correct length of video

  2. The interviewee feels comfortable and appears that way on camera

  3. Your video looks and sounds great (technically speaking)


Every interview needs questions, so these are very important. We all know the Five W's technique - Who, What, Where, When, Why (and How) when it comes to basic information gathering. But this method doesn't always produce the most engaging content. When producing an interview video, not all of this content can be communicated under certain time constraints (nor does it need to be).

Step One: Decide what you want people to say

Although it doesn't seem like the most natural place to start, it can be very helpful to develop your end goal first. Start with a rough script before developing your questions! This can be point form, so don't worry about polishing every word or sentence! Just remember, if the point form notes take about three minutes to read, expect someone that's speaking about it to take 40% longer. People like to talk, especially when they're experts on the matter.

So let’s say I want a thirty-second video about how good ‘John’s Hamburgers’ are. I likely will spend 10 seconds introducing myself and the topic. And then spend the remaining 20 seconds explaining one reason why they are so good! 

Step Two: Decide how to get them to say it

Develop questions that will prompt the scripted responses, but still allow room for the interviewee to expand on those ideas. Sometimes you'll get a response even better than the one you planned. Don't push your interviewee into a corner; gently nudge them in the direction you want them to go with their response. This is also important when it comes to making your talent feel comfortable. Sitting down in front of a camera with bright lights and a microphone in your face can be a daunting task for some. Allow the interview to feel more like a natural conversation for the best results.

Speaking about sounding natural, a question we get all the time is whether or not the talent should memorize their responses. Our answer is always no. It's okay to share your questions with the interviewee before the filming day, but stress to them that they shouldn't worry about memorizing anything. If they're an expert on the content, answers will come naturally. Memorizing or overpreparing answers can make people sound robotic, monotone, or inauthentic. Engagement is key, and more feelings come out when someone is communicating a raw and honest response.

Helpful tip: Two to three questions is generally the most you can fit into a one-minute video. It's easy to break this down into 15-20 seconds per response, and about 5-10 seconds for a call to action and logo animation at the end.

Step Three: Don't worry

Cameras are great because they can fix hiccups. We can do 10 takes and edit together different responses while making them sound totally natural. So you don’t need to feel pressure. The production company should make you feel comfortable, and they'll help drive the motivated response. They are experts and they do this a lot. Movie magic has got you covered!

But what should the interviewee wear?

We have a more detailed blog on How to dress for an interview video, but here are some of the basics:

  • Wear warm and solid colours (neutral palettes or some colour depending on your style)

  • Avoid stripes, glossy colours, and thin plaid patterns (these can appear distorted on camera)

  • Be comfortable in your clothing. Feeling comfortable always translates better on camera!

Where should I film my interview?

Finding a location to film an interview can be tough. There are a bunch of factors to consider including space, lighting, sound, and location relevance. It's best practice to include the production company in this decision, as they'll most likely have thoughts on what will work best for their set-up. It's tempting to block off that board room as your filming space for the day but consider the factors above when making your final decision. 

  1. Space: Production equipment can take up a lot of room. We're talking lights, lighting stands, cameras, camera supports (tripods, sliders, etc...) sound equipment, cables, and the list goes on. When you add in the crew behind the scenes and the big board room table the room can begin to feel tight really quickly.

  2.  Lighting: Does the room have big windows? If so this can cause a problem with the reflections and lighting of your interview. There are always ways to work around this, but it's best to consult with the production company to make a plan.

  3. Sound: Ever heard that loud AC turn on out of nowhere? Or maybe you've heard noisy coworkers on the floor above throwing a party. Normally these are sounds we don't pay much attention to, but microphones are sensitive and can pick up on small sound changes like these, creating distractions and inconsistencies in your final video. Always consider the sound environment, and anticipate potential disruptions before landing on your perfect filming location.

  4. Relevance: The last thing you should consider is whether your location is relevant to the content of your interview? Will your location show well on camera? The general rule of thumb is the more space the better, and the production company you're working with should have plenty of expert opinions on this.

We hope these suggestions help you with your next interview video! If you have anything to add or have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to us, we're always happy to chat video.

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