Across the span of my career, I’ve had the privilege of hosting more than 500 podcast interviews and engaging hundreds of people in on-camera conversations.
In each interaction, I’ve been reminded of the integral truth of the interview process: it’s not the technical questions or well-structured outlines that create memorable moments but rather the ability to unearth and capture the raw, authentic emotion and experiences of the individual.
Interviewing is a nuanced dance between the interviewer and the interviewee, balancing exploring pre-planned themes with the allowance for unexpected, candid expressions.
Achieving this, particularly in the high-stakes environment of a film set, requires finesse and specific techniques.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a comprehensive set of ten practical tips to help aspiring interviewers create a space where their subjects can comfortably open up, allowing for the production of engaging, genuine, and genuinely impactful content.
1 – Prepare But Don’t Over-Prepare:
As an interviewer, your first responsibility is to understand your subject. Research their work, interests, experiences, and relevant updates to form a foundation for your conversation.
Yet, remember not to cling so tightly to your planned script that you neglect the rich, spontaneous moments that may arise.
The most insightful and authentic revelations often occur in unplanned detours.
2 – Build Rapport:
Before you dive into your questions, spend a few minutes establishing rapport with your interviewee. Share a casual chat, ask about their day, or share something interesting about the set.
This initial friendly exchange can ease nerves, build trust, and transition your subject into the mindset of having an open, honest conversation. The interview is not an interrogation but a dialogue.
3 – Listen Actively:
Successful interviewing relies more heavily on listening than questioning. Show that you genuinely care about what your interviewee has to say.
Acknowledge their answers with reactions, maintain consistent eye contact, and provide non-verbal cues like nodding to show your understanding.
This active listening makes your subject feel heard and encourages them to delve deeper into their narratives.
4 – Follow the Emotional Thread:
If your interviewee brings up something personal or emotionally charged, consider it a gateway to authenticity.
Rather than avoiding or changing the topic, ask them to delve deeper, elaborate on their feelings, or explain the impact of the experience on their life.
These moments can unearth compelling and genuine footage that profoundly resonates with audiences.
5- Use Open-Ended Questions:
Encourage your interviewee to share stories, not just facts.
Questions beginning with “how,” “why,” or “tell me about a time when…” can lead to more detailed responses and offer richer insights into their perspectives and experiences.
6 – Embrace Silence:
Don’t rush to fill the silence after a subject has finished speaking. Often, they’re collecting their thoughts, and giving them a little more time can lead to deeper revelations.
7 – Show Empathy:
Your interviewees are likely to be more open and honest if they feel they’re speaking to someone who understands or relates to their experiences.
Show empathy where appropriate, and remember to respect their emotions and stories.
8 – Watch for Non-Verbal Cues:
An interviewee’s body language can be as telling as their words.
Pay attention to their gestures, facial expressions, and posture. These cues can provide insights into their comfort level and emotional state and guide you on when to press further or back off.
9 – Be Flexible:
While you may have a specific structure in mind for your interview, be prepared to adapt on the fly.
If an interesting or unexpected topic arises, be willing to explore it, even if it wasn’t in the initial plan.
10 – Provide Closure:
At the end of the interview, take a moment to thank your interviewee for their time and openness.
Providing a comfortable closure can leave a lasting positive impression and end the session on a high note.
Each interview is a unique journey, with its twists and turns dictated by the individual across from you.
The key to a successful interview lies in staying present, demonstrating adaptability, and building a genuine human connection with your interviewee.
By following these tips, you can master the art of capturing authenticity on film, creating powerful narratives that deeply connect with audiences.Looking to capture true, raw emotion in your on-camera interviews? Our latest blog post offers 10 practical tips for creating authentic, engaging film content. Don't miss it! 🎥💡 #FilmmakingTips #AuthenticStorytelling Click To Tweet