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.