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How to Become a Better Interviewer

As a documentary production house, we get the chance to meet many wonderful and interesting personalities. As people are unique and have different levels of experiences when it comes to talking in front of strangers and even in front of cameras, it sometimes takes an extra mile to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease. This is crucial before, during and after the interview. We’ve collected some insights we want to share with you.

Warm and welcoming atmosphere

Whether the interview is being shot at the participant’s home, in public space or in a studio or film location, it is necessary to make them feel comfortable from minute one. Start by introducing your team and building a warm and friendly rapport. Don’t forget to thank them for their time and their effort on a regular basis and to make sure they are comfortable at all times. Consider planning adequate breaks, giving your participants time to relax from the activity and environment that might be unusual to them.

Safe Space and Trust

Ethical concerns often arise in documentaries, especially when treating controversial or sensitive topics. You never know what might trigger your participants, so it is crucial to be heighten your awareness. If possible, consider sharing your questions before-hand. This gives your participants a chance to reflect and prepare and to object to any questions they might not feel comfortable discussing. Observing their body language during the interview and checking in with them regularly will help you notice on time should anything go wrong.

Dealing with Camera-Shyness

Feeling camera-shy is very common and you will see the most confident people getting shy or self-conscious once the camera is recording. Knowing this in advance and preparing yourself and your interview partners for it can help. Consider the use of a teleprompter or have your participants talking to another person, which might give them more focus and ease. Also doing some warm up exercises or trial shots might be of help before starting the main shoot. Talking for a long time can be exhausting, as well – therefore, always make sure that your participants have enough water by their side.

Transparency and Follow-Up

Being open about what you are doing is key here. Start by explaining the process, the timeline and steps to your interview partners, and don’t leave them feeling left out. For any legal documents, also consider sending them in advance so that your participants have a chance to read them carefully in-depth and to ask any questions they might have in time. Always make sure to explain the content and purpose of these requirements clearly. During and after the shoot, involve your interview partners as much as possible and give them sneak peaks of the recording, so they can see themselves. Also keep them updated on the progress of the project afterwards.

At Ghost Pictures Production, we have trained interviewers on our team that know how to navigate interviews successfully. We are hoping that these tips might help you approach your own interview in a qualitative way too, and looking forward to getting to know you – perhaps by collaborating or perhaps even interviewing you :)


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