Tips for Film Students

Tips for Film Students

I’ve chatted with a few media students this month, and ‘m not sure how to feel, I’m either disappointed or confused.. I’m always saddened by people and The Media when they run down Media Studies as a subject. It’s not necessarily a useless subject, and teaches relevant skills. Sadly I think the problem might be some of the students themselves, rather than the course. Maybe they join it hoping for an easy ride, and then spoil it for the genuine ones who actually want to learn?

I spoke to three separate 16-18 year olds this month who were studying film and media studies, and of course this got me very excited! “What’s your YouTube channel name?”, I asked, hoping to see some talented amateur films. “I haven’t got one”, came the rather damp reply.  “Not to worry”, I said maintaining my excitement “What sort of films do you like to make?” “I haven’t really made any yet, I don’t have a good enough camera”, they said, looking expectantly at their parent standing nearby.

Unusually, I bite my lip at this point, and say “Ahh, I see” cheerfully, but subconsciously burying my head in my hands.

This lad clearly wanted to leave school and land a job as James Cameron’s right hand man, and won’t need a camera as a brand new 3D camera will be thrust into his expectant hands.

Job Interviews

Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t work like that – surprisingly, there are hundreds of thousands of other school leavers that also want to land a job directing Johnny Depp too! If you’re not passionate enough to make films with your phone or your mums rubbish camcorder just for the love of it, it’s not going to give a very good impression at any job interview! Any employer will jump at someone that’s passionate about film making, over someone who just wants a cool job. When I was recruiting, I would always go for someone with passion and skills over someone who just had good exam results.

This is why video clubs are SUCH a great idea! If anyone has an idea how we can get this into students’ heads please let us know!

Viral Videos on YouTube

I don’t know if anyone at the club has realised, but I’m quite interested in cats. The film I made a while ago “When Freya met Teego” about a kitten meeting an older cat, has been having an exciting ride this month. I posted it on YouTube fairly soon after releasing it, and it gained a respectable 40,000 views in two years.

Then at the start of this month, I noticed the views were picking up and in a couple of weeks, the number of views had doubled! This was extraordinary – I’d never had a film get more than around 50,000 views before, and at 80,000, this had blown my previous record out of the water!

Front Page of

Then last week, I went out for the day and when I got back I was surprised to see I had over 50 comments in my inbox from that film. This was very unusual, as I only get 1-3 a day at best from all my films! I couldn’t wait to get home to see what had happened. Arriving home, I saw that my film had received about 80,000 views that day! This was really shocking, and I was in quite a daze that evening. After a lot of research and tracing of where the viewers had come from, I finally discovered that my film had been featured on the front page of – one of the top sites on the internet for the sharing of “interesting pages”

This single feature had been worth 110,000 views of my film in 24 hours, and currently that one film has now had over 260,000 views!

Most of my films have had no more than 500 views, but every now and then, you’ll get a lovely surprise! So if you’ve been wavering, why not give it a try – You can’t beat the lovely feeling of a complete stranger from the other side of the world, saying how much they’ve enjoyed your film!

If you’d like any help or advice, please let me know and I’d love to help encourage another fellow YouTuber!

Thoughts on getting a DSLR Camera for filmmaking

This month, I considered getting a DSLR camera. That is, a Digital Single Lens Reflex, or in English, a stills camera.

There’s been a huge growth in popularity with them recently, because they are starting to record video too, in High Definition. The quality of the lenses and optics is well above what we’re used to in camcorder circles, but they’re far from perfect replacements.

When I first thought about getting one, I popped into PC world, as they have a reasonable selection, and they’re out on display, rather than in locked display cases in Jessops. To my surprise, the Camera expert in PC world appeared to have a clue about filmmaking in general, but since he wasn’t a member and wasn’t interested in joining OVFM, he can’t have been that good!

My first look at their selection confirmed what I’d expected – Lots of lovely lenses to choose from, and reasonable prices too! (for lenses).  However when I started to investigate about sound, it all started to unravel. Of course they have a separate mic socket, so you can plug in an external mic, but as far as monitoring that sound through headphones, forget it! There is talk of future models having headphone sockets, but nothing reasonable right now.

There are workarounds – You can buy a Beachtek or Juicedlink box (a sort of professional mic adapter with XLR sockets) that comes with a headphone socket, but that’s relatively big, and well over £250!

The other alternative is to get a separate audio recorder for £100+, and then sync your audio in the edit. But that’s a lot of fuss, and you need a clapperboard or something like that for every single take, which is simply impractical for the ‘run and gun’ filming that we do for documentaries or anything non scripted.

So my conclusion was not yet and save your money. My guess is that something ought to come out that’s under £1000, and is camcorder shape, with proper sound capability but with DSLR internals and lenses. How hard can that be?

On the subject of DSLRs, I saw a great example of what frustrates me with some student films the other day.

The story involved the suspense of a coke can on a spin dryer where it wobbled left and then wobbled right a few times, and then eventually dropped off the side to be caught by the hero. It won some competition or other, and I thought that although it was beautifully shot, where was the filmmakers’ skill? With the incredible quality of equipment available to the layman, anyone can make a beautiful sequence of pictures, but it clearly still requires skill, not equipment, to make a great film. It seems that people are still very hung up on equipment, and forgetting about the story they’re meant to be telling.


It reminds me of the time when home computer desktop publishing first came out. Everyone started making their own flyers and leaflets, with dreadful clipart everywhere, and every word was a different colour, and they looked hideous! The designers were crying out that they would be put out of business, but they weren’t – because it takes skill and talent to design a leaflet, not just the equipment.


Another year has gone by, and our AGM is back again! I’d just like to re-iterate the regular committee situation, in that we all stand down, and put ourselves up for re-election. It’s not as if we all vote ourselves in automatically! Every year, there’s a concerted effort to encourage members to volunteer for the committee, and to get involved. All you have to do is get a nominator and a seconder, and you get to stand in the election! And being on the committee is great fun! We have a really significant club here, and all ideas are genuinely considered, and as a committee member, you’ll have the opportunity to make a change that may shape the club for the next 50 years or more! We do need nominations though, as at least one committee member is standing down, so we need people to step up and offer their support. If you think you know someone who would be good, please check with them before you nominate them!!


After around 35 years (or a long time, anyway) of editing our club magazine, The Viewfinder, Peter has asked to step down as editor. We’re so very grateful to him for all his hard work over the years, keeping us informed and chasing people for articles.

So now we’re looking to you, dear club member, to volunteer to make the Viewfinder. Any assistance you need will be given – we can supply you with the software if you’d like, and any training needed too! So if you’ve ever fancied having your name in print, or helping the club in a significant way, please get in touch with me.

Often, people don’t volunteer because they think someone else will do it, and it ends up with nobody volunteering. This is important – The Viewfinder doesn’t edit itself, so if you think you can help in any way at all, get in touch SOON!!

The Chairman becomes an AppleMac fan!

Picture courtesy of Lee Relph. Yes. Thanks a bunch, Lee.


I’ve finally taken leave of my senses! Well, more so that you’re aware of. Work has forced me to buy a Mac. Now before you think that because I work in video, I clearly must need a Mac, because you’ve heard that anyone who makes films for a living can only use a Mac if they’re serious, that’s simply not true.

The reason is that my other business is fixing PCs, and business is booming currently, hence the sporadic nature of my Views from the Chairs (or whatever the grammatically correct way to put it is). I’ve been having to turn down 2-3 jobs a month from Mac users wanting help, because I know nothing about them. I decided to take the plunge, and buy the cheapest Mac laptop money can buy to learn how it works and be able to fix the increasing number of customers I’m getting with Macs. By the way, it’s not because they’re becoming more unreliable, it’s because there are more of them!

I’m expert in PCs so I’m well aware that the cheapest PC laptop is around the £250-£300 mark, and knowing that historically, Macs have the reputation of being a bit more expensive than PCs so I braced myself for £500ish. Do you know how much the cheapest Mac Laptop is? EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS!!!! And that’s the MacBook air, which is a tiny thin laptop with no battery power. The cheapest proper Mac laptop is £1 less than a £1000!

There was no way I was prepared to pay that, let alone be able to afford it, so being determined, I went on EBay to look for a second hand one. Fortunately, I found a one year old 13” MacBook Pro for £560, that no-one else bid on, presumably because it had two tiny scuff marks on the lid (No idea why that’s so bad?)

The day arrived, and I won the auction, and after an excited drive to Streatham, I was the proud owner of my very own Mac. And it’s true – standing there, holding my MacBook, all of a sudden, I really do genuinely feel superior to YOU! How they do that, I’ll never know! It’s magic!

I have to say first impressions are excellent. The whole thing is made of a solid piece of aluminium, with holes milled out for the components, and apart from some moderately sharp edges, which is probably a personal opinion issue, it feels fantastic. The biggest impact for me was the rigidity of the screen. If you try and gently flex/twist any PC Laptop screen from any manufacturer it will flex. Not enough to cause any damage, but if you try and do the same to my MacBook screen it’s much more rigid. Again, a by-product of this famous “made from one lump of aluminium” by-line. The only negative thing related to its construction that I can think of is also due to its material. When you wake up first thing in the morning, and place it on your lap, IT’S FLIPPING COLD!!!!! Of course, I’m not stupid enough to place it on my bare legs (more than once, anyway) but still, for the first 5 minutes, it feels icy resting your hands on it. Fortunately, it warms up after a few minutes.

Regarding the legendary Apple Operating System and how it never crashes and is lightning fast, I have to say I’m disappointed. It’s about the same performance as any dual-core windows 7 Laptop costing about £300-£400. I’ve managed to crash it twice in the last month, although I’m not going to hold that against my lovely little MacBook, as I’m a little more demanding than your average Starbucks drinking, web surfing MacBook user.

Being “tuned in” to the Apple world, I couldn’t help but smirk when I noticed an advert in PC world last week. “Apple computers can’t catch PC viruses”. It’s funny, but I’m sure I’ve always been told (incorrectly, of course) that Macs can’t catch ANY sort of virus, full stop. But now it seems that’s not the case. I’m fairly sure they can’t catch human viruses either, but I don’t see them advertising that?! Clever marketing, eh?

As far as the Mac vs PC debate, I have to say it’s over. They’re both much the same. I don’t really see any significant advantages either way, other than choice and price. The Mac’s construction is undeniably better, but is it worth 3 times the price? In 9 years’ time, I’d rather have bought 3 PC Laptops, than one Mac for the same money. I use my MacBook as my only laptop, and it’s a pleasure to use, and I can really recommend the 13” size format laptop, which unusually is fairly rare in PC circles, as it’s really light and portable. Would I have paid £1000 for it? Not on your Nellie!

View from the chair December

I’m going to try an experiment for a while in posting my View From The Chair on the website as well as the print magazine, to see if it encourages discussion or comments. Does anyone have an opinion whether it should be private or public?

View From The Chair

I’ve had so many Chairmanly (*Yes, that is a word, ‘cos I said so) duties this month. And so many times, I’ve thought, I must write about that in this month’s View from the Chair.

Member’s Letter

I had a fantastic chat with Brian Pfeiffer about his letter that should be elsewhere in this month’s edition and/or on the website, where he expresses his concern that he doesn’t make enough films to be a proper member. For the record, we have many members who have never made a film, and have told us that they don’t intend to make a film either, but they love the club. That’s totally fine and no problem at all. In my opening address, where I encouraged everyone to make a film, I was simply doing that – trying to encourage members to make films. If you don’t want to make films, that’s perfectly ok, but we are a filmmaking club, so if I don’t encourage people to make films, then I wouldn’t be doing my job either.

I can’t stop encouraging people in film making, but I would be heartbroken to think that anyone wanted to leave because they simply like coming to the club and being part of our family!

Supreme Experts of the Film Making World

Brian’s letter also got me thinking about other comments I’ve received in the past, but the thing that struck me was my thoughts about the top ten Judges.

Now it’s a bit awkward because I called them judges, and maybe you do to, but they’re not judges at all. They’re simply brave souls that want to contribute to the club evening by offering their opinion, and possibly offering some constructive ideas on what would make the film better IN THEIR OPINION.

They’re not setting themselves up as “Supreme Expert of the Filmmaking World”, they’re just offering their opinion, because that’s the way the top ten works. Unfortunately, we don’t have any supreme experts of the film making world, so you’re just going to have to put up with some person’s mere opinion!

You may notice that I’m using the word opinion lots. My concern is that because the commenters appear to be being considered by many as supreme experts, people are taking their comments and suggestions too seriously.

Top Ten Volunteers (again!)

This brings me to a related point. I think people aren’t volunteering to comment in the Top Ten because they don’t consider themselves to be supreme experts. Well, neither do the commenters. They’re simply members who are helping out the club by creating some interactivity. And if they say something that you disagree with, then disagree or disregard it – it’s still your film!

But if you don’t have the confidence to offer your opinion on a friend’s film, whether it be Reg Lancaster or Freddie Beard’s film, then cut the commenters a bit of slack if they say something that riles you! They’re just telling the club what they liked about the film, and what they didn’t like – and in my opinion, that’s something that EVERY SINGLE club member could do, whether they’re an experienced prize winner, or someone who’s never made a single film.

So next time your poor chairman asks for commenters, why not put your hand up and save us all from listening to the usual bunch of 7 or 8 supreme experts of the video making world!

Member Feedback

Well done to Brian for having the nerve to let us know his concerns. I hope we’re not an unapproachable committee, but if we don’t know your ideas and opinions, we can’t address them. I would dearly love it if members could be a fly on the wall at our committee meetings, just to see how passionate some of our discussions can get! Usually we don’t reach the stage of violence, but if things happen that you disagree with, there’s a good chance that someone on the committee was fighting your corner when we discussed it and voted on a decision. I don’t want to paint an unfair picture though – the committee get on very well as genuine friends, but please don’t assume it’s an old-boys talking shop, where we all pat each other on the back, and chat till 11:30!


I’d like to try an experiment this month, and also publish my View from the Chair on the Website in the private members area, so that if you want to comment or give feedback, you can, by typing in the “leave a reply” box!

Short Stories for Filmmakers


Short Stories for Filmmakers


Chris Coulson


I’m always on the lookout for ideas for films, and we’ve all seen a number of brilliant short 1 minute joke films, by Basil & Pete, and by Barbara Walker, to name a couple of our filmmakers.

Now I’m thinking, what’s the next step up from a “1 minute joke to a film”? My thoughts are leading me in the direction of short stories. Colin Jones is a whizz at writing short stories from a filmmakers point of view, and you only have to read his latest story for the coaching evenings to see his particular talent. Unfortunately Colin’s back catalogue isn’t freely available to browse, although I’m sure you could ask him for ideas.

This morning, I’ve been traversing the entire internet looking at short stories. Some of them have been really interesting, and inspiring, and others have involved police cars, or spaceships, or large crowds, or simply impossible locations. So it’s not that straightforward to write a story that can be made into a short zero-budget film!

Here’s a list of criteria that I’ve thought about off the top of my head for writing a short story that’s idea for us. Maybe we can approach a writing club or something to write us a story?

Short Story Criteria

  • less than three main characters
  • simple every day locations, like a lounge or a residential street, and as few as possible.
  • no exotic props – Ferraris or Spaceships are generally difficult to source (unless you have one, and are offering it for our use)
  • no exotic costumes, (Also, unless you have one and are offering it)
  • short story, less than five minutes in length – 5 minutes would take approximately a day to film.
  • long conversational dialogue is great, but don’t think that’s all we want! (unless it’s VERY good)

I think that should be enough information for a story writer to work with?

Can you think of any other criteria that would help a story writer?

PS, if this topic has inspired you, don’t forget, the club still has a SIGNIFICANT FUND OF CASH** to offer anyone who would like a budget to make a film.

**come on…. of course there are *some* stipulations!


Here are some links to a few interesting things I’ve found.

Short and Very Short Stories Shared Among Friends (Amazon)

Five Minutes’ Stories (In the orange box on the right, select the format as PDF, and press download)


If you discover any useful websites, please feel free to post them in the comments too!

An Audience with Reg Lancaster

Saturday, 11th June 2011 – Oast Theatre Tonbridge

Pretty much everyone who’s anyone in the amateur film making world has heard of our Reg, and his innumerable anecdotes and stories about the films that he’s made over the past 150 years. Approximately.

This is your opportunity to spend some time watching his outstanding collection of prize winning films from over the years, and I’m sure there will be his trademark stories flowing before and after each film!

In addition to an Annual festival, SERIAC also holds special events from time to time for the benefit of all movie makers in the region.

Events over the past couple of years, for example, have included superb ‘An audience with…’ presentations from Master film-makers – Willy Van De Linden and Michael Gough.

Here is a golden opportunity to see an absolutely fantastic variety of top award winning movies made over four decades by the President of the I.A.C., Reg Lancaster FACI.

You’ll see films to make you smile and laugh, films to make you think, films to bring a tear to your eye – all made with Reg’s inimitable style – and at the same time pick up invaluable pearls of wisdom on the art of movie making from a master of the craft.


Oast Theatre, Tonbridge London Road Tonbridge TN10 3AN
Saturday June 11th 2011 10.30am – 5pm
Doors open at
Ticket price – £10.00 (includes lunch)
Contact the SERIAC Chairman for more information: Freddy Beard 01689 813616


Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to all our new visitors and club members!

Please take a moment to have a look around the new website, which now features articles and news items written by members of OVFM concerning the latest club happenings or handy tips and advice to help improve your film making as well as a selection of films produced by the club. Links to the latest articles will appear on the front page, along with links to other relevant websites.

If you’re already a member of the club, please take a moment to log in via the panel to the right of the screen to access the extra content that’s reserved for members only.


Feel free to explore the site further via the choices listed on the menu bar that runs along the top of this page. Once registered club members have logged in and navigated to the Members Only option at the end of the menu bar, you’ll find member details, the club film archive database, and the Viewfinder archives dating back to 2002!

We hope new visitors to the site will be encouraged to join the OVFM family, so the information you need can be found via the Join us page – provided the club picture Gallery hasn’t scared you away!! 🙂


If you’d like to submit an article of your own or a news item for the club, it’s very easy. Please contact our new webmaster, Lee Relph ( for help on how to do it.

Thank you for visiting our site and hope you enjoy your stay!

In the meantime…

Chairman’s Report 2011

view from the chair

This signifies the end of my first year as new Chairman, and I’m still alive! I’m wearing Mike’s Crown Jewels as I speak, but you won’t be able to see them.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this incredible job. So many members have been very encouraging with their kind words, and their turning a blind eye when I’ve forgotten to do something important.  I don’t want to sound too gushy, but your committee is outstanding. It is honestly a privilege to work alongside such knowledgeable and wise people, who are always happy to gently guide me back on track, or remind me when I haven’t done something.

Or when diplomacy is required they kindly tie me up and gag me so I can’t say or do anything wrong.


Membership has stayed around the same as last year, but with an interesting twist. Our average age has gone down, as we’ve had some members leave, and some younger members join. So that’s a fantastic testament to what an inclusive club we are, without alienating particular age groups, or being too cliquey. We need to keep it that way too. Please take a look around you at coffee time, and if you see someone on their own, or looking for someone to talk to, please encourage them and invite them into your group. I’m sure you can remember your first time here and feeling daunted by all the people around you!

Sad News

Sadly, our long standing club funnyman, Dennis Topping died in January, and a group of us attended his memorial celebration, and as a club, we gave a film show that his dear friend Colin had created. Of course, everyone enjoyed it, and there were many laughs!

Blitz and Bananas

This year has been notable for Anna Littler’s sterling work with her club Wartime Drama, Blitz and Bananas. Anna single handedly applied and won a grant of £500 from Bromley Arts Council for this film, and in return has involved almost 50 members either as production crew, story contributors or actors. This is one of the most ambitious films we’ve ever taken on, but I feel that the most important thing for me is that so many club members have learned together and spent time with other members that they might not have previously spoken to. Also, the publicity around the Petts Wood and Bromley area has raised our profile locally, and even attracted some new members!


This year saw continued work and effort from our incredibly diligent Archive team. Andy Watson, Tony Faller, John Epton, and David Laker all gave their considerable expertise and time, and also Brian Pfiefer who has spent a tremendous amount of time transferring films into the Archive


Thanks also go to Mike Turner, and Simon Earwicker who continue to offer their time to organise and give film shows to other clubs and organisations, and earn significant amounts of money for club funds

Club BBQ

Last Year’s BBQ at Hugh and Anne Darrington’s stately Manor House and grounds went really well, with more food than we could all eat, and my thanks go to Annabelle Lancaster, Freddy Beard, Zoe Taylor, Brenda Wheatley and Barbara Darby for all their help setting up and running the BBQ. The committee have noticed that it’s always the same faces running the BBQ, and it would be really nice if we could have some new faces stepping forward, so that the usual people can enjoy the BBQ for a change without having to work. So if you’d like to contribute, however much or little, please make yourself known any member of the Committee.

Club Dinner

The club dinner at Donnington Manor was very well run, and our issues from the previous year were noted and fixed by the staff. Thanks to Peggy Parmenter for running around collecting the money and organising the whole event.


I’d like to give thanks to Mike Coad especially for all his work on the North V South competition. It’s a significant competition, and the North has seen some difficulties this year and last, with new management stepping in with some proposed new rules too. The OVFM Committee has put in a lot of time and effort standing up for the rights of the Southern Clubs, and Mike has been an unfortunate buffer in the middle, and we’re proud that he’s handled it all with statesman-like diplomacy.


Thanks are due to Peter Lodge who edits the viewfinder on time every month, who reliably calls me up every time the day before and says panickingly “Where’s your view from the chair?”


Ann & John Epton kindly stepped up at the last minute and offered to make the Oscars tape again this year, and really added to the atmosphere of one of our most important evenings of the year! A very special thank you also goes to Brenda Wheatley who organises everything to do with all of our competitions including the Annual Competition judging and the Oscars, and chased up everyone and bullied and forced them into reluctantly surrendering their trophies ready for the Oscar night. When you do your job well, nobody notices.


Peggy Parmenter, Jo Coad, Barbara Darby, Jane Oliver and Annabelle and Freddy have at various times helped silently in the background with refreshments, and repeatedly bribed me with cake and biscuits whenever possible.

Club Shows

Our autumn and spring shows at the new location of the Methodist Church has been a great success, and gives us almost double the space and scope for the growth of our shows, and I think the refreshments at the interval seem to work much better being in another area out of the main hall.


I must hold my hands up in failing to organise the tutorials this year, and nobody is to blame except me.  Fortunately, Ian Menage and Colin Jones have offered to organise the tutorials in future.


Thanks are also due to Mike Turner for compiling this year’s newsreel, and this year, our Superstar contributors are Mike Turner, John & Ann Epton, Reg and Annabelle Lancaster, Derek Allen, Bob Wyeth, Mike Shaw and myself.


The club has enjoyed a significant quantity of positive publicity this year, thanks to Annabelle’s work as press officer. Most committee meetings she’ll have some clippings where we’ve been mentioned in some way in various newspapers. Also the website continues to attract new members, but it is in need of some sprucing up, so I hope we can work on that in the following year..

Vice Chairman

My personal thanks go to Ex-chairman and now Vice Chairman Mike Turner, for leaving me such a stable and well-run club, and also being excellent help whenever I have questions about matters of state or anything else, 24 hours a day. Also personal thanks go to Annabelle, who is always at the end of the phone and always listens to my whining complaints and rants whenever I have things on my mind that are unprintable, and fortunately, persuades me not to print them!


I’d like to thank David Laker, the club treasurer for really “owning” the whole club finances job. He gives us all a real sense of confidence with his hand on the purse, however ladylike that image is.


Finally, and in my opinion, most importantly, I’d like to give the biggest thank you to Freddy Beard – The club Secretary. She is the REAL force behind this club, and works more often and harder than any of us could even imagine. She handles every enquiry, she reminds us of every engagement and deadline there is, minutes every meeting, and organises the agenda for the next.


The OVFM committee do a lot of very hard work for the club, and it’s understandable, as we’re all very passionate about filmmaking AND our club. You’d really be surprised at how little politics goes on for a club of this size, and we’re all to be commended on that! If you have a question, or an idea, you don’t have to wait until the AGM – You can ask any question anytime you like, and all you have to do is tell a member of the committee, It doesn’t even have to be under the Freedom of Information Act! We’ll discuss it, and come back to you with a proper answer. Finally, on matters of the committee, Lets have some more nominations next year from you guys!


To conclude, I would like to thank every member of OVFM, for putting up with my trademark chaotic notices at the beginning of every meeting, my random numbers game with the teas and coffees, and my extra loud Gavel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year at the club, and next year has some exciting plans, with a new website, tutorials starting up again, and some exciting new ideas for attracting new members of all ages.  We also have a very exciting new idea coming from David Laker in his Report.

Interview Techniques



Why do an interview?


  • Haven’t got the footage? – If a ship sinks at sea, you can interview the survivors Could be Interesting filler if used sparingly.
  • If it’s a significant person, it can add credibility


  • Do your research – have a good idea of questions and background about the subject.
  • Consider the finished product.
  • Talk to the interviewee beforehand – Ask if they can, to answer in full questions, to aid editing later if you’re going to remove the interviewer.
  • Mention that they should avoid fidgeting – it makes them look shifty and untrustworthy – if they can’t stop, film a closer shot of their face, so that it’s not so noticeable


  • Black is bad – no texture
  • Fine repeating patterns or stripes will move and distract on camera – Strobing

Camera Height

  • A high camera looks down on the subject, belittling them
  • A low camera makes them appear more significant
  • Usually – put the camera at eye height
  • Get Permission before you start
  • Before you start, with the camera running, explain what the interview is for, and get their permission on film – legally acceptable.
  • This also allows a chatty period to get the subject used to the camera
  • The Interview
    If they start to waffle, interrupt with another question, or be prepared to edit lots –
    you’ll need plenty of cutaways.
    Don’t let them use technical words – maybe ask them “what did that word mean” or
    frown and they might notice and explain better
    Assume the audience is an intelligent 15 year old – intelligent, but may not have the
    same life experience as you.
    Listen to what they’re saying – and look for keywords that can be illustrated by
    filming cutaways later – if they’re talking about Motorway noise, afterwards, get
    some shots of a motorway to illustrate the interview, to make it less boring.
    Open Questons
    Open Questions and Closed Questions – Start with the six journalistic W’s – Who
    When, Where, What, Why, and hoW ☺.
    If you have to cut – or the subject fluffs a line, wait for the subject to finish, stop
    filming, move the camera to a different position, and ask the question again. It’ll look
    fine when you edit it together.
    Body Language
    interviewee rubbing nose – possibly lying
    touching face – Hiding truth
    Avoiding eye contact – about to fib – eyes are the gateway to the soul
    Ask a questions and then shut-up!
    Its easy and natural to say mmmhm and “yes, I see” to try to encourage the
    interviewee to continue but disembodied sounds will seem weird when you edit…
    The Silence
    Use silence – just look serious and maintain eye contact – they’ll feel pressure and feel
    obliged to answer – not a nice technique, so be careful when you use it
    If the interviewer is visible and you’re going to use their voice, put them to the left of
    the camera, out of shot, and place the subject at the right 3rd or the screen looking into
    the empty space on the left, otherwise it’ll look like they’re looking off the screen.
    If someone is presenting to the camera, they should be centre screen, unless they’re
    illustrating something in the background and it’s important to maintain eye contact
    with the camera – the subject will look very shifty if they don’t maintain eye contact.
    80% of what a viewer takes from an interview is visual information.