Unless you are working with a professional actor it is – in our experience – better to conduct an interview with someone, rather than having them read from a prepared statement. Someone who is comfortable and speaks from the heart is vastly more believable, so how do you set that up?
Its all about making your subject comfortable. If they come to your studio, have everything ready to go when they arrive and spend as little time with the technology as possible – if you come to their location find the place they are most at home, and set up your shot the folowing way:
1: Are they more comfortable standing or sitting?
If it is short statements you are looking for, standing people usually come across with more power – sitting, more reflective.
2: Camera height equals perspective.
In most cases your lens should be at the same level as your subject’s eyes. Otherwise it will either seem like they are talking down to the viewer or looking up.
3: Looking into the lens, or not…
When you want your spokesperson to look directly at the viewer, that is actually pretty hard for most people, so make their job easier: Move the camera at least 10 feet away, zoom in to get your framing of course and move your head (or whoever is asking the questions) as close to the lens as possible. It will look like your subject is looking at the lens, but give them a human face to talk to. It is important that you then actually listen to their performance, smile when appropriate, nodd or shake your head – in other words be an active listener.
4: Have questions
It is good to come with some questions prepares, but listen intently for interesting details the viewer may want to know more about. It is only partly about getting the right information, the other half is to get your interviewee to forget they are being filmed, and talk directly to you about something they are passionate about. That always comes across, and you can tell when it happens.
Frames from VisionEars’ interviews: