Film School: Shooting Interviews

How to Shoot Interviews How to Shoot Interviews (source: Aputure)

A collection of interview tips & tricks.

Interview 101

Indy Mogul regularly taps industry professionals for their demonstration videos, and in the process create helpful checklists. While I’m not sold on all the aesthetic choices in this particular demo, the key takeaways are pretty universal:

  • camera – position your subject to look authoritative, rather than dramatic
  • lighting – to brighten and separate subject from background
  • audio – mic placement, and aiming toward chest rather than mouth
  • set prep – “it’s much harder to fix bad audio in post”: take time to dampen the environment during production
  • interview – allow silent pauses between Qs and As, and get your subject to repeat each Q before A’ing.

What about showing your interviewer on screen? offers five quick tips – before equipment, lighting or set-dressing are even discussed – about fundamentals such as camera placement, eyeline, and audio capture:

Cinematic Lighting

In Depth Cine explores placement of lights – and of the subject, to make the most of available light:

A couple of videos from Aputure, who have a whole series on lighting setups for interviews. This first video demonstrates how to create different looks, styles, genres and moods for your interview – with a single light source:

This second video goes into four distinct lighting plans, with techniques and considerations when going for a more “cinematic” look, such as both adding and subtracting light:

While you may not have access to a bunch of pro-level lights and accessories, this third video is still helpful in its step-by-step, light-by-light breakdown (or, really, buildup) of each look – at the very least, it can give you an idea of what to look for in the lighting of your own setup:

Commercial Looks

Parker Walbeck can both produce a slick, high-end video, and offer an accessible, detailed walk-through of how he achieves his results. Beyond some of the ideas discussed in the first Indy Mogul video, Parker takes a more detailed look at the technical considerations (with, of course, more gear):


Standard Story Company offers a great intro to professional multi-camera interview editing, from start to finish in 30 minutes, in Adobe Premiere Pro:

Further Viewing

A personal favourite: short documentary Too Old To Be New, Too New To Be Classic: 12 Years of DFA features interviews shot in a style consisting of some fresh takes on some of the conventions in the examples above (and likely mostly using available and/or single key lighting).

Technical details aside, there are also approaches for how to get the best out of your interview subject:

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