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The Art of Producing Dynamic Video Interviews

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

Most video interviews fail because not enough importance is accorded the interview subject. Follow these tips to address the shortcoming.

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    The secret to producing dynamic video interviews is to make the conversation as natural and informal as possible.

    It must appear that the subject is actually having a chat with the intended audience of your video production. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know what your audience would like the subject to talk about. What’s the story about the interview subject they would like to hear? Most importantly, you'll also have an idea of what the interview subject would be excited to talk about.

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    Advance Notice

    Inform the interview subject in advance about the focus of your interview. If the subject asks for questions, politely turn down the request. You don't want the subject to rehearse the answers before shooting begins and defeat your aim of making the interview spontaneous.

    Give the subject a general focus. Say, “We’ll talk about your beginnings as a writer and your involvement in playwriting in the early days of your writing career."

    Your general focus should be about something the subject is familiar with. Avoid a theoretical approach like saying, “We’ll talk about your opinion on post-modernism and the use of psychoanalysis in fiction."

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    Emotional Involvement

    From your research about the subject, you should choose an area in which the subject is emotionally involved with. It must be on a topic that the subject will never tire of talking.

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    Choose a Natural Setting

    Try to interview the subject in his `habitat’. In other words, instead of interviewing a writer in a coffee shop, try to get him to agree to an interview in his workspace. That would give your video more dynamism. Your audience will understand and appreciate the subject better if he or she is placed in a natural setting.

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    Other Suitable Locations

    Also try to switch to other locations which are extensions of the subject’s `habitat’. If the subject goes to a park to reflect on his writing ideas, you can conduct the interview there after shooting him or her walk around for a bit. If he does any writing there, you could ask him permission to shoot a demo before starting the interview.

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    Put Your Subject at Ease

    As you set up your camera talk to your subject to make him feel at ease. Don’t talk about the subject of the interview though. Maybe you could compliment a painting on the wall and ask him where he bought it and what attracted him to it or something. Anything that could divert their subject’s attention to the camera set up and your crew. Don’t leave him unattended before shooting starts.

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    Make the Subject Feel Important

    Start with simple questions first when shooting starts. This is to warm up the subject. It’s to make the subject feel at ease, so that you could move on to something deeper, to issues the subject would not normally talk about. If the subject feels like elaborating on a certain subject, don’t restrict him. You want to show the subject that whatever he says is important. If you make him feel important, you can expect to get some valuable information that the subject would not normally reveal.

    As far as possible avoid referring to your list of questions you have prepared in advance. Go with the flow of the interview and follow where the subject is taking you on a certain theme. Only refer to your questions when you are lost as to what to ask next.

    On finishing your interview, ask the interview subject if you have left out anything important. This will make the subject feel important and with a little luck you may get some useful information that you never anticipated in the first place.

    In a nutshell, try to look from the viewpoint of the interview subject while serving your own needs. The more the subject is made to feel comfortable and important, the more successful your video interview will be.