Nervous interviewees are the bane of every documentary maker. That people will clam up in front of the camera and start stuttering is one of the tough truths of this universe. So how do you avoid plastic smiles, nervous highs and an expression that says, please get me out of here. No, you don’t have to move in with your interviewee to gain their trust; it just takes a few minutes and a little bit of warmth to shoot interviews that look absolutely natural.
Ten easy tips to make your interviews look completely spontaneous
• Stop by for a cup of a coffee, or make a brief, informal call a day or two before filming. It can help your subject being more relaxed around you.
• Involve your subject or talent in the shooting process. Ask them if they could help set up the lights, the mikes, are interested in handling the camera. Anything to make them look like they’re on your team.
• Pay small and warm compliments but don’t overdo it.
• Make small talk about topics that are unrelated to the subject and try to look like you are trying to strike up a conversation, rather than trying to elicit information.
• Switch of the tally light to prevent your subject from looking like a deer caught in headlights. It can be unnerving and you can easily do without a tally light.
• Anytime you find your subject flubbing lines, or getting, jittery, stop recording and let them relax. A 5 minute delay is much better than an entire documentary looking like a lopsided conversation.
• Make and maintain eye contact throughout the conversation.
• Tell them that it is ok to feel scared to death; it can help relax frayed nerves, and be more trusting towards you.
• Have a great attitude, you need to look positive and relaxed and approachable.
• Never interrupt when your subject is speaking even if they relate incidents that are not directly related to your documentary, or seem to go and on. Yes, a camera rolling can also make people talk non stop.
• Finally send across a transcript of your conversation, if it is not convenient or possible send your entire documentary footage. Mailing across a transcript is easier and more cost effective. Opt for a documentary transcription services firm if you hate typing out stuff.