Course Module: 
Convergent Journalism 2

Interviews

Reminders:
what is the focus of the interview?
Do you need the background to show a location? A company HQ? An exterior of a coroner’s court? However, it is important that events are not going on directly behind someone that might change and so make editing impossible.
Is the interviewee going to stand or sit, or do something while talking?
Do you need to see their hands because they use them constantly? If so, you need a wider shot or some well-thought out cutaways.
The sun needs to be in their face, not behind them.
Are you going to frame the person mid-shot or close-up and change the shots during the interview? (In which case you will need to pause the interview while you change shots.)
Which way do you want them to look: left or right? If you are fairly sure interviewees will follow each other, one needs to look left, the other right.
Law of thirds. Framing looks right when people talk into space, when they look into space.
If you really want to do a reverse shot of you asking a question, then you must look at the camera the opposite way. Otherwise you cross the virtual line.
Having someone talking directly into the camera can work if they are telling a story. It gives an intimate, confiding tone.

Shooting interviews
The basic shot is camera shooting behind and over the reporter’s shoulder. This means the subject is looking at both the reporter and the camera. Then the camera can pull back, ideally physically moving back, for a two shot of the reporter talking to the subject. See note below on the interviewee’s first words, which are often an opportunity to change the shot.

Covering interviews if you want the reporter to also be in shot
Can you use two cameras?
With two cameras, covering an interview is easy. One on the reporter, one on the interviewee. Or a wide two shot plus a close up of the interviewee.
What if you only have one camera?
. . . and don’t want to do reverse questions? (which hardly ever look natural?)
The first words of an interviewee are often a preamble to the interesting stuff. If shooting a reporter interviewing someone and you only have one camera one possibility is as follows: shoot a MCU of the reporter asking the question. Let the reporter finish the question and hold the shot on the reporter for three seconds as the interviewee starts to speak. Then physically move the camera to the shot you have already decided for the interviewee: over the reporter’s shoulder; just the interviewee; or a wider two-shot. 

Interview background
Put a lot of thought into the background. An interview clip is probably going to be the longest shot in your report, so make it visually as well as editorially interesting. Don’t just “knock it off”.

Try to allow enough time to shoot a wide, reverses, even cutaways.
Avoid cliches: in front of a bookcase; you will know them when you see them.

People walking into a building: cliche. Someone taking a book off the shelf and looking through it.

In or out?
Consider shooting the interview outdoors if at all possible. You get the movement of the trees in the wind, people walking, some ambient noise: it just seems more alive than an office.

Anonymous interviews
Two main issues:
If you have promised to conceal someone’s identity, you must be absolutely certain they cannot be identified either by voice, profile, or location. Jouvenal and missile.
Don’t rely on pixellating the face. There is software available which can unscramble these pictures and it is hard to watch.
Shoot in silhouette, semi-darkness or simply show the interviewee’s back while shooting the reporter reacting to their words.
You can side-light the interviewee and film the shadow on the wall.
You can shoot hands, or parts of the face in extreme close-up (but be careful not to revel too much).

Editorial issues
There must be a compelling reason why the person can be given anonymity: fear of reprisals, such as losing their job; fear of violence or arrest. How do you know they are telling the truth? You need to be even more rigorous in checking and re-checking their story. There may well be compliance issues and your bosses and compliance lawyers may need to have a view before broadcast.

Getting the permission of the person to film
Before starting the interview but while the camera is recording, ask the person whether the purpose of the interview has been explained to them and say something like, Just checking whether you are OK to talk about this. Make sure they say yes. Known as an on-screen release, this can reassure a news editor or production manager the necessary legal permission has been obtained. It may do the same with a channel lawyer. 
Without this on screen release, there have been cases where people have argued that they own copyright of their own words and they cannot therefore be used.
In truth, releases are legally unsafe and what no one tells contributors is they can pull out of a programme at any time up to TX. People may have good reasons for changing their minds and your line manager can help negotiate this.
 

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TV TWO: Shooting interviews