The 8 Steps to Making Unsung Interview Shoots Work

Shooting for #unsungpgh at Soldiers and SailorsIn the two and a half years of shooting and editing for Unsung: the Non-Profit News Show, this was the longest running show I’ve had that was more of a production than a long form, no-edit, conversation.  Over that time, we really had a chance to perfect things a little bit over the years.

Whenever we go out for a shoot for Unsung, I have a checklist for production:

  • Light: Do I need it?  Every time I don’t use my little light on the camera, I absolutely hate all of the shadows after I capture the footage.
  • Tripod It.  Sometimes we still get events where we have to catch people on the fly, but whenever I can, I want a nice, locked down, shot.  When we’re interviewing, I want a talking head.  We’re not going for the frentic look I get constantly moving like some other projects.
  • Check that focus.  Nothing worse than not checking on it and finding out the subject is fuzzy.  It’s hard to determine on that little LCD when you’re conducting the interview and listening to audio and filming as a 1 man team.  A quick zoom in on the person’s face usually reveals all.
  • Your Name Please? I require, even when it sounds stupid to do with a simple name, that the subject of the interview says and spells their name.  I don’t care if it’s B.O.B.  I may not realize the spelling J.O.N. seems normal to you when I spell your name J.O.H.N. when I get to the graphics.  Yes, even you, Smith…
  • Who are you and What are we doing here?  The starting point.  What is this organization/event.  Let the subject give the elevator pitch.
  • How is it helpful to the community?  Who is it helping?  Why is this important?  Why should a care about what it’s doing?  Give me a reason to worry about it not being around if they don’t get support.
  • Personal Stories.  This is often the hook.  If you can show how this organization, etc has affected real people, or you are interviewing the person affected, it can bring the audience in closer. Maybe even identify with.
  • What can people do to help/get involved?  This is the call to action.  Do you need money?  Do you need toy donations?  Are you just looking for people to follow your Facebook to learn more about he cause?

Unsung may not be a lock for continuing in 2014, but I think we’ve collected a great deal of interviews that I’m in the process of collecting on a new YouTube channel.  Stay tuned for details on how we hope to continue its legacy.

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