Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great Interview Advice

Interviewing people for a video can be tricky. There's nothing more frustrating than editing an interview only to discover that a sound bite doesn't work.

In the course of normal conversation, most people don't speak in complete sentences. We often offer one-word answers. However can create a huge problem.
During editing the voice of the interviewer is typically removed leaving only cryptic and unworkable one-word answers. Ouch.

To combat this, interview subjects are often coached to speak in complete sentences. This works sometimes, but too often it makes the subject self-conscious and screws up the flow of the interview. In short, your subject may start to dwell on how they're speaking instead of thinking about what they're saying.

At the New Doc Editing blog, Karen Everett offers some great advice:

"The key is to avoiding this situation to frame your question with certain opening phrases that will force your subject to give full sentence responses.

For example, if I asked you what color your car is, and you reply 'blue', that’s not a very helpful soundbite to use in the edit room. But if I asked you to 'Describe the color and make of the car in your driveway?' you’re more likely to say something to the effect of, 'It’s a light gray Honda Prius.'

I credit my colleague, PBS filmmaker Jon Else, with these interview tips. Try framing your questions with one of the following opening phrases:

  • 'Describe such and such…'
  • 'Explain such and such…'
  • 'Tell me about such and such…'
Use one of these opening phrases and watch your interview come alive with full-bodied answers that will stand on their own in your script."

You can read the full post here.

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