When Your Subjects Shoot For You

We face a lot of challenges when we shoot remotely.  This is far from the ideal way to report a video story. But we will make the best of a situation that is beyond our control.

You are a producer and need to take control that means you want to give instructions to your interview subject about setting up a shot and helping you get B-roll.

In advance of the interview send them a list of things that can help them.

 1. Setting up their computer or device for an interview.

a. Ask them to find  a quiet place without children or pets, if possible.

b. Ask them to stay away from windows and make sure they don’t place their  computer camera so that it faces into the light.

c. Suggest the framing for them. This BBC interview is framed correctly. Ask them to make sure they don’t cut off their own heads and that there is a distance between them and the wall beyond them. Even with a remote interview you want to have some depth.

c.  Ask them to use headphones for the audio, if possible. You should use headphones too so that you don’t get your computer’s fan noise.

d.  If you don’t use headphones ask them to record their audio on their phone’s Voice Memo as well and send it to you.

2.  Ask them to make sure that all background noise is reduced as much as possible.

a. Turn off fans.

b. Turn of music.

c. Turn off TV’s and radios.

3.  If this is a Skype interview ask them to record their audio on the phone’s Voice Memo as well and send it to you.


Self Recording on a Phone 

  1.  Try to send them a list of helpful tips.
  2. They want to follow the same kind of setup you have for a computer video. But it’s obviously a selfie. So it can look like that except that the camera is turned horizontally.
  3. Remind them not to shoot in front of a window or bright light.
  4. Again, make sure that the camera is turned horizontally.
  5. As them to put their phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode.
  6. Ask them to turn on the camera and wait a few seconds before they start to talk.
  7. When they stop talking ask them to the camera roll for a few seconds. Don’t turn it off immediately.


Content of the Interview

Whether it’s a selfie interview or one that you lead via the internet, you want your interview subject to really describe what’s going on and give examples.

  1. They may say, “Coronavirus makes me scared.”  Okay. But what happens when they get scared?  Do they stay in bed all day? Get them to describe behavior and give examples about what made them feel that way and what they are doing in response. Let them know this in advance.

When they shoot B-Roll

  1. Ask them to get as many varied shots as possible to help illustrate what they said in their interview.
  2. Ask them not to pan or move the camera around a lot.
  3. Ask them to hold every shot for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Ask them to shoot much more than they think they need.



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