The Hero’s Journey: Capturing the Video Interview

The crew is ready. Your interviewee, or hero, is ready. You’re ready.

Now, the second part of the “hero’s journey,” the “initiation,” is about to begin.

Of course, this initiation is not a series of tests in the classical sense of the “hero’s journey.” Think of the “initiation” as a conversation; simply a series of explorations into someone’s point of view.

We started off this series talking about the hero’s journey as a metaphor for video storytelling.

The next post shared the steps to prepare for the video interview, or the first stage of the hero’s journey; the “separation.”

•Step 1. Be a story steward

• Step 2. The story is in your answers

•Step 3. Keep the questions to yourself

This post will focus on the second stage of the hero’s journey, the initiation, and the three components to successfully capture your hero’s story on-camera.

The Hero’s Journey: The Initiation

Step 1. Warm-up questions

It’s tempting to jump right in and start asking questions about your topic. That can be a rough way to start your conversation, especially for someone who has never appeared on camera before. Consider entering the conversation informally and more naturally, like you were asking questions over a meal.

Begin the conversation by asking questions you may not use in your video but will put everyone at ease. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that some of the answers to these warm-up questions are a great way to start or end your video.

Here are a few questions I like to ask to gradually get the conversation going. Pick what will work for you.

•What were you doing before you came here?

•How did you discover this job?

•What’s a good day for you look like?

•How does that make you feel?

•What are you passionate about? What makes you tick?

•When you were coming into work this morning, what were you thinking about?

•When someone asks you what its like to work here, what do you say?

•What’s the culture like here? Describe it for those who haven’t been here.

Step 2. Provide space in-between questions

Once the conversation is underway, turn your attention to the content of the video.

Now that the conversation is underway, here’s a simple technique to get the most from your interview.

Instead of jumping right into the next question, wait a few seconds before speaking. Give a moment to the interviewee to see if they want to add anything else to what they just said. It may look like they finished their statement, but in fact, they often want to say more. They just need the space to say it. Provide that space with a few seconds of pause before you jump into your next question.

Step 3. What did we miss?

You asked all your questions; even a few extra spontaneous ones. You’re done, right? Not yet.

Take a few moments to reflect on what was covered. Nine times out of 10, you missed something. Think of asking your questions from a different perspective. Perhaps you didn’t cover a certain area of your customers, vendors, company divisions, etc.

Another great technique I often use is to turn around and ask my film crew if they have any questions. A crew brings an entirely different perspective to the conversation and it’s a great way to capture additional and important ideas you might have missed.

Speaking of missing, what did I miss? What tips or techniques have you used to capture a great interview? If you’ve appeared in a company film, what suggestions would you share to make the journey more successful and inspiring?

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Veteran filmmaker Thomas Clifford helps Fortune 100's to nonprofits who are stuck, frustrated, losing employees or market share because they can't breathe life into their brand story. He believes remarkable organizations deserve remarkable films. Check out Tom’s full bio for links to his podcasts, interviews and manifestos. Tom produces films with passion and purpose at Moving Pictures, a firm connecting companies and audiences through compelling visual communications.

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3 Comments

  • Thomas Clifford

    HI TImber,
    Thanks for your comment. I come from the single camera documentary background so 99% of my interviews are single camera. I also often use a second camera to capture "behind-the-scenes" footage of the interview. This gives the interview a unique feel and look and subtly reminds the audience we are creating this moment. I don't zoom, btw.

    Hope that answers your question.

  • Mike Wagner

    Thomas, I especially liked this piece of advice: "wait a few seconds before speaking. Give a moment to the interviewee to see if they want to add anything else to what they just said. It may look like they finished their statement, but in fact, they often want to say more. They just need the space to say it."

    Like the poet said, "pause, so that something important can catch up with you."

    I think we don't "pause" enough.

    Great series!

    Keep creating...today's masterpiece,
    Mike

  • Timber Kirby

    Nice workflow and check list. Query? Do you recommend a two camera interview system or four? (Body shot and close up) Or do you use zoom for close up shots?