Interviewing people who have experienced trauma first-hand or have a loved one that have fallen victim to violence takes special care. Here is a list of articles from the Dart Center For Journalism and Trauma that can help you stay sensitive and get the story at the same time.
Posts Tagged ‘interview’
Park Triangle Production is looking to interview people from the Middle East and North Africa about their thoughts and feelings about the recent “Arab Spring.” Interviews will take place this Monday – Thursday from 10am-4pm. Interviews will be used as part of a new series exploring humanity in all of its forms. Email Gemal@parktriangle.com for more information.
People from other countries seeking democratic rights are also welcome.
Conducting a television interview may sound easier than it actually is. Yes, you need an interview subject, a camera and a microphone. But if you want your interview to look professional or at least not be distractingly bad, you’ll have to take a few things into account.
- Lighting – Lighting is perhaps the most crucial element to creating a nice looking interview. If you are shooting indoors, you’ll want to have a couple of sources of light that you can manipulate. A key light is aimed at the interviewee to make them stand out from the background. A fill light can add shadow and depth to the interviewee’s face but is not always needed. A back light adds depth and texture to the background. A poorly lit interview will look drap and murky. If you are shooting outdoors, be aware of the sun position. The noon day sun can sometimes be too bright and cause harsh shadows. An overcast day can be just right for a cleaner look without shadows. A nice white board or silver shiny board can help you manipulate how the sunlight plays on the interviewee’s face.
- Wardrobe – What is your interview subject wearing? If it is a sitdown interview and you’ll only be shooting from the shirt up, make sure the shirt is a plain shirt. Blue or bright, solid colors work best. Stay away from all black, all white or busy patterns. They make the camera do funny things. Let the interviewee know ahead of time if their pants or shoes will be seen so that they can dress accordingly. A nice outfit with scuffed up shoes can be distracting.
- Make-up – Let your interviewee know if you will be providing make-up and/or hair services. If not, bring some translucent powder or oil absorbing sheets to keep the shine down. Use powder on bald heads too.
- Angles – Do not set your interviewee against a flat wall. It makes the interview look flat and therefore visually boring. If you only have a flat wall, say a brick wall for example, positional the interviewee at an angle that will allow the wall to veer away from the subject in one direction or another. Shooting the interviewee from a bird-eye (from above) or worms-eye (from below) can be fun and interesting.
- Backdrops – Interesting backgrounds can say a lot about your interviewee. You may want to keep it simple for quick, information interviews. But for documentary style interviews, consider placing the interviewee in the surroundings that apply to their storyline. For example, a basketball player may be placed in a gym or teacher placed in a classroom. Sitdown interviews in offices or living rooms can get boring. Try adding some interesting props to the background or foreground. Lamps, books, computers and flowers or plants are pretty standard and easy to come by. Trophies, hats, pictures, statues and toys can often help convey the theme of the interview. I’ve even used the corner of a chair to break-up a plain-looking space.
- Comfort Level – Don’t forget to make your guest as comfortable as possible. If they guest is uncomfortable, it will show on their face. A comfy chair is a must-have for long interviews. Make sure to have some water on hand to keep the interviewee hydrated.
- Chairs – In addition to a comfy seat, a stationary seat is recommended. Seats that roll around or swivel allow your guests to move all over the place within the frame. Also, if the chair back is too high, it may make your guests to look stiff. Too soft and the guests may slouch. That said, stand-up interviewees can help boost the interviewee’s energy. But I never have guests stand for more than 30-minutes.
- Be Prepared – Write down your questions before the interview.
Also remember to have fun. You’ll get more out of your guests and your shoot that way.
From my desk in Annapolis, I recently coordinated an interview in Dallas with a well-known and respected figure at a museum that donated the use of an empty room. Although I was not directing this shoot, I was responsible for making sure that the interview looked worthy of this guest. An empty room wasn’t going to cut it. Whatever the solution, it needed to be quick, affordable and nice.
Everything was falling into place. Our favorite crew members were available. The weather forecast called for a beautiful day. And, the room we were given was large enough to accommodate a three-camera shoot. There was just one problem. The room was an empty echo chamber. In order to pull off a broadcast quality shoot, we would need a rug (to keep the sound from bouncing all over the place), chairs that were not the squeaky leather kind that make fart noises when the sitter moves in them, and background props that would give some depth and dimension to the backdrops. Lastly, all of the furniture and props had to go with the deep red color of the walls.
The museum didn’t have what we needed and neither did the sponsoring organization. I googled theatrical prop houses but didn’t find much that looked helpful. Somewhere along the way, the thought occurred to me to try a real estate staging company. I had worked on a home sale series about six months prior and remembered home owners renting furniture to make their homes show better and sell faster.
I googled real estate stagers in Dallas and found a couple of websites that were easy to follow and featured pictures of some of their work. I went with Holly Bellomy of Dallas Real Estate Staging. The process was simple. We spoke on the phone and then I emailed her a list of our needs, a photo of the interview room and a video link of past interviews set ups that we liked. Within an hour, she emailed me some chair options and by the end of the day we had a contract in place. For a very reasonable price, she brought chairs, a rug, a coffee table, side table, lamps and other side table accessories. Holly and a staff member stayed for the duration of the set up period to make sure everything looked just right.
The report from the crew was that the shoot went well; and, that Holly and her team were great to work with. When I got a chance to view the footage the next day, I was equally pleased. The host and guest were seated in a warm, elegant environment during their conversation. If the need arises, I’d work with Holly again. And if I get the chance to work with other real estate stagers in other cities for set props, I’ll gladly do so.
PROPOSAL/TREATMENT CHECK LIST
This is the basic format I use for writing a documentary or series proposal. I change it, add to it and rearrange it as needed. Please note that most places where you will submit your proposal, especially for grant funding (check out the Grants and Funding category), will ask for specific information.
- Title – think long and hard about your title. It should be short, sweet and to the point.
- Project description - what makes this idea special?
- Overview of story – step by step, how will the documentary or series unfold? Include sample segments and/or episodes.
- Story-telling style – how will you convey the story (interviews, still photos, graphics and charts, music). Help the reader SEE your idea.
- Need or importance of project – why should this story or series be made?
- Target Audience – who are they and why will they watch?
- Project timeline – a brief calendar outlining the workflow from development to delivery.
- Distribution plan (including Website and New Media) – how and where will viewers be able to see your documentary or series?
- Budget with fundraising plan including any funds already raised (read the Sample Budget blog to see how a budget is laid out).
- Personnel bios or resumes
- Key production staff involved
- Key interviewees
Note: Any pictures that can be inserted into the proposal or video that can be sent with the proposal always helps.
- Trailer or funding reel if you have it. It should be polished.
Here is a shoot template that I typically use. I change it to fit the needs of each shoot. You can see a budget template in the sample documentary budget blog post.
You can purchase a downloadable template for ONLY $0.99!
This template can be changed to fit any scheduling needs.
BIRTHDAY INTERVIEW SHOOT
January 21, 2011
|Call time||Address||Contact info|
|LOCATION 1||9:00am||The Great Hall 000 Blank StreetCity, State, Zip Phone number||Joe Name, Hall Manager555-1234JoeName@greathall.com|
|Notes: Park at back loading dock. Take elevator to second floor party room.Lunch will be catered at the location.|
Friday, January 21:
9pm CREW CALL TIME: everyone arrive at the front door for load in.
9-10am Load in
10am-11:30am Set up for interview #1
11:30pm Make-up arrives and sets up
12:30 Guest #1 arrives and goes into make up
1pm Tape Guest # 1
2 pm Guest #2 arrives and goes into make up
2pm Re-set for Guest #2
2:30-3:30pm Interview Guest #2
3:30-5pm Tape b-roll
- Building exteriors
- People talking at party
- Cake (presentation, blowing candles, cutting, eating)
- Presents (presents stacked up, opening presents, reactions)
- Closing shot (like a hug as people are leaving)
5pm WRAP SHOOT, pack up and leave
You can purchase a downloadable template for ONLY $0.99!
This template can be changed to fit any scheduling needs.
I am currently on a shoot in San Francisco. I’m primarily here to conduct interviews and tape B-roll for a series of short videos. In an effort to complete another project due at the end of the week, I am writing scripts in my “downtime.”
I have nothing against San Francisco, but I am jet lagged, miss my family, had to change rooms at 2:30 in the morning because of water dripping from the ceiling onto my bed and, if I may be blunt, my gastronomic system is a little backed up. None of this has put me in the mood to come up with pithy and energetic host script copy. So what to do?
I’ve devised a few tactics over the years to help me continue writing even when I really don’t want to. A deadline is a deadline. So it’s handy to have a cadre of tricks to help bust through that block when necessary.
- Dance to fast music – This is my number one, go-to block buster. I put on one song with a driving beat, sing loudly and dance passionately. For me, this is a shortcut to meeting my muse because I totally leave the writing behind for 5-minutes and come back refreshed and energized.
- Take a chore break – If I am at home, I find it helpful to work on rhythmic activities like washing dishes or folding clothes while my sub-conscious works on the work. I almost always come up with an exciting breakthrough this way. If I am in an office, I might clean my desk or do some filing, anything to keep my hands busy but my mind free.
- Walk away from the writing – Get out and take a walk. This is another way to get the blood pumping and the words flowing.
- Go over the top – Write wild and crazy, over the top stuff. Try alliterations or some rapping and rhyming. It’s fun and you just might come up with ideas that make the final draft.
- Check out a list of clichés – If I am having difficulty with a subject matter, I often look up a list of clichés on the internet. Yes they are staid but they can also be entertaining. And even better yet, they can help me get a grasp on concepts in a focused and fun way.
- Get help – I have a couple of producer friends that I can call or email with a problem section and they help me work it out with a fresh eye. I do the same for them. It’s kind of like having a writing elf. And let’s face it, two heads are better than one.
In this particular San Francisco block, I’ve elected to write something else, something that I know would flow – this blog. It’s been fun and I’m feeling ramped up to continue the writing-for-hire. If you have any other tricks let me know. I’ll post them and maybe try them next time. Happy writing!