This post will describe the filming techniques I used to film this talking-head interview, what I learned from the experience and my struggles. I will also talk about the actual interview, questions, answers, and how I was able to get the interview I wanted. This post will include clip examples my interview with Sam, but the editing of the interview will be concerned in the next post.
Before even beginning the interview, I had some ideas of what I wanted the scene to look like; a mid-shot, stomach to head, with the participant looking slightly off camera, (indirect interpolation.)
This technique I gained from the workshops, but also from simply re-creating documentary interviews that I have seen, such as in 13th.
(Slightly higher budget) but you can see the subject is looking at the interviewer, not down the camera. I believe my framing matched that of a much more professional shoot, keeping the interview formal but not unnervingly direct to the viewer.
Like all interviews, in fact all films, the mise-en-scéne had to match the tone and subject of the film. I chose to have the interview with Sam in his bedroom. This creates the personal tone I wanted to achieve, so the audience can relate and feel as if they understand his issues, but it also relates to the filmed cutaways addressed in my last post. The interview is made informal by the colloquial language (which I will address later in this post under questions and answers), as well as the casual outfit Sam is in. His body language is relaxed for the full scene to work. All of these choices make the film seem as if I ambushed Sam with questions in his room, which is always messy, on a day where he was relaxing, however everything in the mise-en-scéne has been designed to create a specific effect on the audience, (the fact that it is unnoticeable shows what a good job I have done.) Sam is relatable to a student audience and fits the convention of his ‘character‘ he is ‘playing‘.
That’s the camera angle and mise-en-scéne explained, but what about the audio? I used a gun mic that I gave to Sam to hold. Giving the microphone to the interviewee may seem an odd thing to do, but it is clever for a few reasons:
- It means Sam didn’t fidget with his hands giving him a more relaxed persona
- The microphone was as close to the interviewee as it could be giving the best audio of his answers, which is what I needed for this video
- (Arguably most important) None of my team had to hold it. Really taxing on the arms it is holding a gun mic or a fishing pole
The lighting was something I put less thought into. Not shooting in a studio and not having mobile lights on stands, we had limited options. In order to match the white balance of the other shots however, I decided to use natural light from the window as opposed to the bleak yellow lights in Sam’s room. I feel this gives the shot a natural professional light, whilst matching the cutaway/B-roll footage.
Questions and Answers
Out of the entire interview process, the questions were the most simple part. I wanted to come up with simple questions that were broad enough the Sam had the freedom to fully describe what he wanted. We were creating a one minute film, so I had planned the interview to last around three minutes of raw footage, this gave us the ability to cut out dead air, only use the best answers to the questions, hit all the relevant points and still have room to wriggle within, better to have too much footage that you don’t end up using than to not have enough footage to fill the time. I settled on having Six questions:
- What’s the hardest thing about being independent?
- Do you cook by yourself?
- Are you getting on with your flat?
- Do you miss home?
- Are you enjoying your course?
- How are you managing your budgeting?
These questions I feel gave an overview to the first few weeks of student living, covering typical issues or feeling that students face when first coming to university.
One aspect of the interview process that I feel really boosted Sam’s interview was how he answered the questions. During the editing process, I was unsure whether to include the interviewer’s questions so the audience knows what was asked. However, this proved to be unnecessary as Sam, who himself studies documentary, answered the questions be repeating them first and then giving his answer. For example, to the question “are you enjoying your course” which he answered, “I am enjoying my course” meaning I was able to cut out the question as the audience know what was asked due to Sam’s reply.
I feel this technique helped my interview flow as there was no pause to hear the question being asked. Some interviews have multiple cameras to the interviewer is seen asking the questions and reacting to the answers. This is usually done for comic effect or if the interviewer is a well-known star. In my case, all I wanted to convey to the audience was Sam and his answers, the interviewer as not an important character, all that mattered to me, and thus to the audience, was Sam’s responses to the asked questions.
I feel the interview section of my video look professional and flowed well in the video, however part of the this is down to editing which I will address in my next blog post! In this I will talk about cutting around dead air, mistakes in the filming and how I was able to get around them through editing and the issues I had/Mistakes I made! (Editing may have been my favorite part of this entire exercise!)