Getting in front of a camera for an interview is never an easy task. For those who have never been on a film set before, the lights and camera equipment can be intimidating. Most people feel like they need to “perform” when they sit down for their interview. They begin to talk and act in a way that’s not true to who they really are. Whether you're shooting a commercial to market your business or sharing your expertise in a feature-length documentary, we hope that these 5 tips will aid in calming the nerves and help you come prepared and comfortable for your first time interviewing on camera.
What To Expect On Set
Since it’s your first time in front of a camera for an interview, you most likely have never experienced a small film set before. There are several things that go into making a film shoot successful, but the magic happens with the help of the production crew. Production crew sizes vary for each project, but the most common crew size for filming interviews is between 2-4 members. Those members being a Director, Camera Operator, Audio Tech, and a Gaffer to handle lighting and set up. They all have specific roles, but their main goal is to make sure you look and sound amazing! For most interviews, you will have a ‘boom mic’ placed above you that will capture the audio from your interview, but you should also expect to have a small microphone hidden underneath your clothing so the crew can capture crystal clear audio from your conversation. Most interviews are conversation based, so you, the interviewee, will be talking and answering questions from the Director, the interviewer. And lastly, you should definitely expect a couple of cameras!
Come Prepared (But Not Too Prepared)
Like many important things in life, you should come prepared. Always plan to arrive on time for your shoot to keep the day running smoothly. My mom always said, “If you’re late to your dentist appointment, it throws off everyone else’s appointments.” Same is true to this, so make sure to be on time. Another way to come prepared is to review the prompted questions that will be discussed. It’s always helpful to write down a few bullet points to guide your answers and keep yourself on track. That being said, do not over prepare! And by that I mean, never memorize your answers like a teleprompter. Filmmakers are always looking for authenticity, so if you are well acquainted with the questions before stepping in front of the camera, you will do great!
This piece of advice can sound cliché, but I’m serious. Be yourself! You were likely asked to do an interview because you have the expertise or knowledge of the topic being discussed. So be yourself! Didn’t it get you this far? In the words of actor Chris Pratt, “Just be yourself and forget all the stuff you read in GQ magazine.” When sitting on set under the lights, remind yourself that all you need to do is relax and have a conversation. We’ve all seen the local car commercials where owners scream “Deals! Deals! Deals!” That’s of course not what filmmakers are looking for. When filming documentary-style interviews, simply have a conversation and be true and honest with your approach. If you feel like saying something, go ahead and say it! And if you’ve said too much, you can always ask the Director for those statements not to be used.
You Will Mess Up
The beautiful thing about filmmaking is there’s always room for mess ups. Because the film can be cut and edited, do not be afraid to ask to redo an answer or two. It’s always better to try different takes on set then to wait till it’s too late. And know that not only will you mess up, but the film crew might mess up too. Filmmaking has a lot of moving parts such as lighting, audio, and making sure the camera operator hits the record button. So be flexible to change things up if something isn’t working out right on the production side.
What’s better than a great story? Instead of listing off a bunch of facts, try sharing a testimony of how the “topic” came into play in your life. When personal stories are shared it gives more heart to the film and makes you relatable to the audience. Your story will provide the audience with a deeper perspective on a character and the subject. And remember, since you're the one on camera, you’re one of the characters of the story! So be willing to open up and share your heart a little.
Putting yourself out there and stepping in front of a camera can be intimating, but do your best to relax and have fun with the process! Film production is such an exciting avenue of storytelling and it’s because of brave people like you that help bring stories to life!