Movement Resources

How to Film a Testimonial Interview Pt. 2

Before the Interview

Make sure the subject is comfortable: Filming can make some people stressed or nervous. Make sure this is minimized by encouraging the subject to get comfortable. You can help this along by making sure that there are no physical barriers. Make sure the seat you’ve chosen is comfortable to sit in, that there aren’t any bright lights or glare in their eyes, and that they have water on hand to drink before the interview if desired (just make sure the water glass doesn’t end up in the shot).

Instruct the subject not to look at the camera: It can be very hard to figure out where to look when you’re being interviewed on video – between the interviewer, the camera, and whomever else is in the room to help out, it’s very common for the subject to have their eyes dart around the room throughout the interview. To avoid this problem, remove the ambiguity and ask the subject to simply focus on whomever is asking the questions for the interview, and do their best to ignore the camera or whoever else is in the room.

Ask the subject to repeat the question in their answer: It’s common practice to remove the questioning portion of the video in the edit, leaving just portions of the subjects answers. For this reason, ask the subject to repeat or paraphrase the question asked at the start of their answer. As an example:
Question: “Why did you decide to move here?”
Answer: “The reason I decided to move here was because…”

Encourage the subject to repeat themselves throughout the interview: the same topic multiple times throughout an interview. Let them know that this is not only natural, but encouraged! Repetition within an interview allows for more options in the edit, and often as the subject goes over a topic again they will add more nuance to it as they process their thoughts more fully.

During the interview:

Feel free to break off script: Having a set of questions is very helpful in keeping an interview on track and ensuring all desired topics are covered. That being said, the questions are there to bring out good answers from the subject, and if there is a topic or story the subject brings up that you feel would be worth diving further into, go for it! Candid, authentic, conversation and stories make for impactful and effective video content. Just keep track of where you left off on the question list so that you can pick up where you left off and get all your bases covered.

Make sure not to interrupt the subject: Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with a line of questioning, or not want to forget a follow up question on something that was just said. In addition to making sure the subject is comfortable, being extra careful about an avoidance of interrupting contributes in another way: Clean audio. Rushing into the next question as the subject is finishing their answer means there’s an overlap of voices, which can be difficult or impossible to remove in the edit. Help keep the subject at ease and the audio clean by being extra careful to not interrupt.

Be okay with a little bit of silence:
Sometimes it’s easy to want to fill every bit of silence, but silence doesn’t always mean that the subject doesn’t have anything to say. Before rushing into the next question, give a pause to see if they’re just gathering their thoughts, or even ask them if they have more to add. Ultimately, silences can be taken out in editing, but answers that were never said can’t be added after the fact.

Movement Resources

How to Film a Testimonial Interview Pt. 1

Finding the Right Place to Film

Sound: The location for filming should be a low traffic area to avoid disruptions. Avoid areas with appliances or machinery that cannot be turned off, as that will affect the quality of the sound that is captured. Large empty rooms with a lot of echo should also be avoided.

Space: You will need enough space where two people can be seated across from each other comfortably with room for a camera setup off to one side. You will need a couple of chairs, one for your subject and one for yourself or whoever will be conducting the interview. Big, deep armchairs tend to cause issues with framing, something small and upright that encourages sitting up straight is much more optimal for interviews. Enough space to allow for following the Framing and Composition practices in the next section would be ideal, but if it comes down to it, capturing clean sound is much more important than capturing a perfect image.

Light: Having a good amount of light in the space you’re filming can help capture a good image. More important than the amount of light however, is the quality of light. A lot of hard light caused by only a couple bright sources (sunlight coming through one window, one bright room light in an otherwise dark room) can cause exposure issues. It’s better to have slightly less light as long as the light more evenly diffused across the space. A room with ceiling light and a couple of lamps is great, and window light can function great in tandem with room lights so long as it it diffused, either through a semi transparent solid window shade/curtain, or by clouds on a overcast day. Once again though, keep in mind capturing clean sound is much more important than capturing a perfect image.

Setting Up Your Phone

Camera placement: Make sure your phone is on a stable surface at eye level of your subject or slightly above it. Make sure it is rotated horizontally. The subject of the interview be filmed at no more than a 45 degree angle (optimally closer to 20-25 degrees) and should be framed in the center of the composition. The distance between your subject and your camera should be about 2 feet. The subject’s eyeline should be about ⅓ down the frame and they should be cut off at the bottom of the frame slightly above the waist. Make sure there is a small amount of space between the top of their head and the top of the frame.

Using a mic (Optional)

Background: Avoid having a flat background, if possible. Avoid blank walls or empty spaces. When unavoidable, putting some space between your subject and the wall can add some depth to the shot, making it feel less flat.

Lighting: Optimally, your subject should have more light on them than the background. This is most easily achieved by having your subject sit closer to your main source of light (window light or room light) and turning off a couple of lights in the background (pulling window shades in background, turning off a couple of lights.

Focus/exposure point: Make sure your focus/exposure point is set on the face of the subject. Usually this can be done by tapping on the area of the screen on the area you would like to focus on. Some phones will detect faces automatically- if this is the case for yours, you can skip this step.

When using a lavalier microphone, make sure it is securely clipped to your subject’s shirt or jacket as close to their mouth as possible. It should be clipped so that it is not brushing directly against their clothes or skin during recording. The end of the microphone should be pointed towards their mouth.

Our Microphone recommendation: Valband iPhone microphone