Our company does video production in Austin TX and more often than not we do interviews in our projects. Our video production company has picked up a lot of tips and we'd love to share them for your own video production company or if you're a company doing in-house video production.
Only use the interesting stuff. This one may sound obvious but it’s really really not. When people get interviewed they aren’t themselves. They turn into a robot. It’s OK, they just want to seem professional so it’s completely understandable. Your goal is to remove any of the corporate speak in your video production, any of the salesperson speak, any of the robot speak. They may be making good points and hitting all the key issues but if they don’t sound like a human you will bore your audience to tears. A good rule of thumb, if something sounds like something you would hear in any corporate video, don’t use it. The best way to get these kind of answers? See Tip #2.
Turn question-asking into conversation by asking impromptu follow-up questions. Here’s a metaphor to help explain. If you can bench press 200 pounds 10 times then that last rep or 2 are probably the really tough ones, right? Well, many health experts believe that the first 8 reps didn’t really do anything for you, it was just the last 2 strenuous reps that counted. So you were essentially just doing a lot of reps to get yourself to the last few that mattered. That can be true in doing interviews for corporate video production. For example, if you ask the interview subject in a culture video about why their company is the best place to work they may give you a semi-scripted response about the company’s teamwork, the passion of the employees, etc. But then maybe you follow up quickly with a “yeah I noticed it seems like you have some real good friends here, huh?” and then they bounce back with a “oh, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had like literally the first day I got here. I wouldn’t leave this place for anything. I love it here.” That’s the answer you want.
Do plenty of interviews and encourage them to use many specifics. The more interviews you do, the better your selection will be. Some interviewees are naturally great interviews and some aren’t but ANYONE can be a great interview. And if you get them to include specifics anywhere possible you may not want these specific items in your 2-minute product video but it does wonders to get them out of their shell and really get their mental juices flowing.
Try to get them to state the subject in every response. This one’s always tough, especially if you’re trying to make these interviews conversational, as suggested. But for editing purposes you need to have context included, because you don’t know what soundbite is going to be the great one. Some interviewers try to tell their subjects to rephrase the question into the answer but people usually forget to do that pretty quickly. A good tip is to tell them at the beginning of the interview to pretend someone just walked into the room and has no context for the current conversation. Or tell them to eliminate pronouns. No he’s, she’s, they’s, etc.
Script the questions but NO SCRIPTED ANSWERS. Sometimes this is tough because most people will prefer to have the questions beforehand to have their answers ready, which is natural. It’s usually fine to give the interview subjects a general idea of what you’re going to ask but don’t allow them to really fine-tune their answers and definitely don’t let them (gasp) memorize anything. The onscreen results will prove to be painful to watch. If answers are feeling too rehearsed refer back to Tip #2 and catch them slightly off guard with some improvisational follow-up questions. Sometimes my follow-up questions seem so improvisational they stop to ask me if my question is for the video or if I’m just asking, like if we were speaking “off the record.” That’s terrific. Because I guarantee you questions that feel like that are about to get you some terrific results.
Michael Mason is the owner and Executive Producer at Perfect Chaos Films. Perfect Chaos Films is an Austin video production company, specializing in corporate videos. PCF was names one of the fastest growing video production companies in Austin Texas.