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View Full Version : Does anybody know of good articles about docu interviewing?



Ralph nixon
03-22-2006, 10:13 AM
Just about to start our first docu with the 100b and I'm looking for articles that would help me be a better interviewer. Anybody know of any?

bugsbunny
03-22-2006, 11:41 AM
Just about to start our first docu with the 100b and I'm looking for articles that would help me be a better interviewer. Anybody know of any?

Not sure if this will help you. Check out this link:

http://dvworkshops.com/dvtips.html

Go to the contact page and give Aron a call. Maybe he can give you a few tips.

For sure you should have your questions prepared. Recite from memory and not read from the paper. Talk to person and make them feel comfortable.

Good luck:)

bugsbunny
03-22-2006, 11:45 AM
and...

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=43043

Bus No. 8
03-22-2006, 01:06 PM
Some hints and tricks that have worked for me...

Begin the interview with some low pressure, even unrelated small talk to help the subject get comfortable. Be sure to have the camera rolling, you might end up getting something you can use. Try to organically segue into the interview proper. Your subject might not even be aware of the transition, or that you've been rolling the whole time.

Ask open-ended questions, rather than closed ones. A closed question would be any question that can be answered with a simple yes or no, such as, "you grew up in Hoboken, didn't you?" as opposed to "tell me something about where you grew up"

Whether or not you are planning to include your own questions in the finished video, avoid vocal reactions or prompts when the subject is speaking - it will make your editing much easier if you don't have to break up a passage to extract your "uh-huh, wow, hmm" from the audio.

Relating to the above, practice reacting, prompting and encouraging without vocalization. This goes hand in hand with the practice of maintaining eye contact throughout, which goes hand in hand with having your questions well prepared so that you're not looking down at a notepad while your subject is speaking to you. You should be able to convey that you understand, are interested, and would like to know more with just your eyes and body language. Do practice this a bit in the mirror or with a friend - it can look kind of creepy if not done right.

Depending on your style and the needs of your piece, decide how long you want to let the interview go. I generally let mine go long to allow time for the subject to warm up and feel comfortable, and to allow revisiting questions that you'd like more clarification on, or want an alternate answer to. I also like to make the subject feel like I'm truly interested in what I've brought them in to tell me about, and not that I just need to get something from them. Whether your interview is 5 minutes or an hour, it's still a time commitment for your subject to plan for and get to. Don't waste their time with simply gratuitous chit-chat, but do honor the time that they've given you simply by showing up. It could be hell when you have to transcribe, but you don't have to transcribe what you know you won't need.

I usually end the interview by asking the subject if there is anything they'd like to add, or wish that we'd talked about, and I'll often check in with my camera person to see if there's anything we might have missed.

IMPORTANT!! When it's all over, remember to get room tone! Just keep everyone where they are without taking off mics or tuning off lights, and just sit silently for 30 seconds with the camera rolling. Not only will it save your butt in editing when you're piecing together disparate bits of audio to create a seamless and distilled interview, but it's also kind of a nice way to end the time you've spent together.

So, those are some basics. Hope they help.

Robert

bugsbunny
03-22-2006, 02:01 PM
Some hints and tricks that have worked for me...

IMPORTANT!! When it's all over, remember to get room tone! Just keep everyone where they are without taking off mics or tuning off lights, and just sit silently for 30 seconds with the camera rolling. Not only will it save your butt in editing when you're piecing together disparate bits of audio to create a seamless and distilled interview, but it's also kind of a nice way to end the time you've spent together.

Robert

That's great Robert. That is so helpful, I just didn't know about that. Makes a lot of sense I usually try to cover problem areas with music.

pmark23
03-22-2006, 06:53 PM
One technique I've found really useful is to nod when they've finished speaking, as if telling them to continue. Or just staring at them silently. They'll keep talking and you can get some really good stuff that sounds more authentic.

If someone's really nervous and the interview doesn't go well, I'll say something like, "Oh shit! The microphone was off! Sorry, we'll have to do that over" (or if you don't want to look like an idiot, complain that there's a strange noise in the background), and repeat the questions. They're usually much more relaxed and you get a much better interview.

MsManhattan
03-28-2006, 05:48 AM
Ask open-ended questions, rather than closed ones. A closed question would be any question that can be answered with a simple yes or no, such as, "you grew up in Hoboken, didn't you?" as opposed to "tell me something about where you grew up"


I usually end the interview by asking the subject if there is anything they'd like to add, or wish that we'd talked about, and I'll often check in with my camera person to see if there's anything we might have missed.

Robert's advice is really thorough -- pay close attention to it, especially the two points above. I can't stress enough the importance of asking open-ended questions. If you give most people an opportunity to give you one-word answers (eg, yes or no), they will take it. Experienced interviewees and good talkers will sometimes volunteer open-ended answers to closed questions, but in general most people won't -- either they're too nervous or they just aren't good talkers. So avoid yes-no questions at all costs.

And, as Robert pointed out, give them a chance at the end to bring up points that you may not have raised. You will usually get at least one good sound bite out of that.

Just as important as asking the right questions is staying engaged and listening to the answers -- and taking the opportunity to respond, to follow up, with a question you may not have planned. Not only will that get you good bonus material, it also makes the setting less like an "interview" and more like a conversation, which will also put your subject at ease and get them to open up more.

Also, remember that it is your interview. So, it may be good to stray off topic a bit or off your question list, but maintain contol of the interview -- make sure you stay on your agenda and don't let them set the agenda or you may not get what you need. Let them wander a bit as they seem to need or want to, so they remain comfortable, but always pull them back to the topic.

Listening and responding to the flow of the interview is easier said than done, especially if you are also managing the camera, sound and lighting. It's definitely best if you can take someone along with you to manage the technical elements of the shoot so you can focus on the content.

Oh, another good point -- that pmark23 made -- if the answer you get is not quite what you were looking for, don't repsond right away... Don't be afraid of an awkward pause because, by human nature, someone is going to want to jump in to fill that void, and if you stay quiet, your subject will generally start trying to fill in. Of course, this is a balancing act, because an experienced subject is just as likely to wait you out...

If you don't get quite the answer or depth you are looking for on a particular question, let it go for the time being and look for an opportunity to raise it again elsewhere in the interview -- phrased in a new way, of course.

The main thing is to relax and think of this as a conversation vs. an interview. I did a live shoot at a sporting event on Saturday with an inexperienced host. He knew the subject matter, but had never done interviews before. I told him, act like you're in a bar or at a party, and you've met someone you want to get to know better and maybe get to go out with you. So, I'm not saying to flirt or be lascivious in any way, but maintain that kind of openness and charm as you would if you were "courting" someone. Keep your body language open, stay engaged, make eye contact, listen, make them feel like they are the most interesting, smart, well spoken, insightful person ever... And they will keep wanting to give you more.

Hope that helps.