Interview: Setting Up for Success
We're gonna talk about setting up for the interview, capturing good sound, and then moving on from that into kind of avoiding self-inflicted pitfalls. And this one especially, you know I'm gonna give you a sneak peek into later, but one of my cameras didn't record scratch audio. You know, and that was a huge failure on my part. I even did a test, but when I did the test I tested the footage from a card and not my Ninja. Alright, so there is huge things here that I did that were completely just failures but I'm still able to deliver even footage from that camera because, like when you stop for a second, you stop panicking, you now? You stop panicking and you realize you've got it you've just got to work a little harder. I think letting you guys a peek behind the curtain as to how I messed up and how I'm getting through this stuff is more valuable than anything. 'Cause I'm not perfect and I would never presume to be perfect. We're gonna start off and I would just kind of like throw it ou...
t to you guys. What are some challenges that you guys face? what are some obstacles that you've run into? what are some fears that you have when it comes to actually doing an interview? Let's set ourselves up for a better discussion later. Cause if I can know what you guys are afraid of I can tailor fit what I'm gonna talk about to the fears that are in the room and out in the world.
Thinking about capturing quality sound in a small space with appliances nearby that create low hums and when you play back the footage you can hear... It's just horrible.
Mhmm. I'm so glad you said that, because we're gonna focus in on one key concept that you're not gonna want to miss. Something called capturing room tone. Room tone does a lot of stuff for us. What it does, especially with some of the new software out there from Adobe called Audition, it allows you to take that room tone and eliminate it from your clip. There are things that have made it easier for people like us who don't have a background in sound who aren't sound technicians and audio technicians to be able to get something that we can deliver and still be proud of. Later on you're gonna hear some of the audio we got and you're gonna hear some of the huge challenges that I got with it. You're gonna hear some of the actual mistakes I had even though I checked, even though I had it right even though I knew what I was doing, there were some mistakes and things will happen it's getting out of them that's gonna be very, very beneficial. So that's a great question, we're gonna really address that. And we're gonna show you, I will show you a step by step on that in Audition to make sure that you get it right.
Tonya, who's been watching us all day from the UK thanks for continuing to chime in. Says, trying to think of questions on the fly based on the answers that the person is talking about versus just a pre-planned questions list.
Well Tonya, practice conversation okay? When you meet someone for the first time do you come in with a list of questions? Right, or do you have a list of questions in your head already to ask them and then when the conversation goes a different way do you refer to your list of questions or do you engage with them and ask them other questions that pertain to the subject? I think the coolest thing about an interview the most amazing thing about an interview is the free-flowing nature of the interview. You know, that's fun for us. That's fun for us to kind of get in there and be like hey, you know, so you said this earlier well what did you mean by that? Like what was the whole purpose behind that statement or what do you mean, could you explain more? I think a good phrase that I like to use a lot in interviews help me understand what you meant when you said. Okay, because those are the little nuggets that you can pull out in an interview. You know, help me understand, what did you mean by? Is there anything else that you would say if you could say it differently? I think at the end of the interview with Ivan I asked him, I said you know you just said something really really great but I need you to say it again in a different way. And calling that out and being like, you know what? I really love that statement but I need you to say it again. And in a way that is more either concise or you know, coherent or hinges more on this thematic element you can coax them a little bit. Because you're trying to get more out of them. It's not a journalistic interview, right? You're not doing something for like 60 Minutes. You're doing something for them and you want to put them ahead of anything else. So as we dive into this section I want to show you guys kind of the moment I was ready to capture some sound. So this video's again in the space we kind of pre-shot it so here it goes. Alright so here we are guys, we're at the final stretch I've actually set up all of my equipment. I've done all of the checks and all the tests I need to do. And now it's the moment of the shoot where I need to be completely unworried and not focused on my equipment so that can be their 1000% for the person that's gonna be sitting in that chair in like two seconds from now. In the last segment I talked about needing to go through and do camera tests and do sound checks and all that kind of stuff so I've done all of that. Now in the back of my head, as I start to transition from being a gear person to being a director that's going to be dealing with talent I'm thinking about questions, I'm thinking about the first few things that's gonna build rapport with the person sitting in the chair. And help me get to a level of understanding with them where I'm not just here with a bunch of equipment which is intimidating. But I'm just a human being trying to tell their story. So, I've sent questions, I try to do a pre-interview I've tried to do things that would set us up for success in this so right now it's just trying to figure out where I'm gonna go with the conversation. Cause that's all this is at this point is I'm just having a conversation with Ivan and Ivan's gonna talk to me, we're gonna talk to each other. And then out of that we're gonna get a story we're gonna get something that's really, really hopefully, fleshed out and wonderful and actually the word you're hearing a lot these days is authentic. So I want to get something authentic and I wanna get who Ivan is for real. So that's really what we're focusing on. Cool, so how do we start with interviews? We always start with a pre-interview and a pre-interview is very very very simple to do guys. It shouldn't take a lot of time it shouldn't be this production, it's just a conversation. Get used to just having conversations. My friends hate me sometimes because I'll be out and I'll be at the grocery store, whatever it is and I'll have a conversation with the person at the cash rack. You know and be like hey, how you doing? Blah, blah, make a joke or whatever it is. You gotta find what your go-to is to disarm people. So you do a pre-interview and what does it mean to do a pre-interview? It could be on the phone, it could be, honestly, right before you actually shoot. You've done enough research on the client by this point. The pre-interview isn't for you, it's for them. It's for them. So you gotta guide them through the process you're gonna get to know them. It's like, I've never done this but I've had friends who've done it, it's like speed dating. So you have a very limited amount of time to get your message across to them and receive their message to you. The trick here, the deck's stacked in your favor 'cause you already know everything about them. You know what they do, you know why they're here all that kind of stuff. So in the actual instance of my pre-interview with Ivan he got there like an hour early, you know? We kind of just sat and talked in the hallway. Whatever it is and then I just did this, you know? Like I just pulled my hair back behind my ear not even thinking about anything and he looked at it, my ear, and he's like "Oh, you rolled?" I was like wait, wait, wait, wait yeah I did. And he's like oh that's cool. When did you roll? Oh back in high school so rolling is wrestling. So I wrestled in high school and because I have what's called cauliflower ear he picked up on it right away. That's how these things happen it can be as accidental, that was not on purpose as accidental as him immediately seeing something in me that he really valued, respected, treasured something he immediately got affinity for. And that was all it took, was all it took. 'Cause the next 15 minutes of my conversation with him was about like wrestling and running, you know? And, like, all the things I used to do as a kid... that was it. That's how quick it is, that's your pre-interview. The purpose of a pre-interview is to disarm them. 'Cause they're nervous, chances are they haven't ever been interviewed before. So the minute you... imagine walking into a set lights, cameras, action, you've never done it before in your life or you've done it so sporadically over a lifetime that it's now a mountain and it's really just a mole hill. So you got to, got to, got to practice your conversational skills. You have to be able to look people in the eye and speak to them and say hey, how you doing? and then give them the elevator pitch. You're on the third floor, heading up to the fourth floor. In the period of time it takes you to get from that floor to the next you gotta tell them what you're gonna do. So it's gonna be about two blocks of 30 minutes we're gonna do two sets of questions. First ones are gonna be really, really easy just to kind of warm you up as easy as I'm talking to you right now just try to keep that conversational tone with me, okay? If you ever need to stop we can stop I gave you the questions beforehand so nothing is gonna be a surprise, we're just gonna talk. We're just gonna talk, and how we talk is how we talk and I'm gonna promise you everything is gonna be phenomenal it's gonna be great, okay? So you trust me, we're gonna have a great time. That's how I talk to people, it's reassuring. You always want to say hey, you look great. People are always so concerned about how they look. Like I pick out things, pick out things that I know are insecurities for everyone. Man or woman. It doesn't matter. Because people are always self conscious about the same things. Like I woke up this morning and had a big old zit on my face of course I'm scared, there are things that you wake up and you're just so self conscious about and you wanna be reassured. You want to have that confidence going in because if you have that confidence going in you're gonna shine, that's the exact same perspective you gotta bring to this interview. So when you conduct a pre-interview most thing that's important right here, It's for them not you and keep it fun. Keep it real fun, because if you jump into a conversation and you're like hey why are you doing this? Tell me your story. And you jump into that conversation there, one you're not ready for it, they're not ready for it they're standing, you're probably not even anywhere near a camera and you just lost a moment, so keep it fun. Talk about what you did last night talk about how you lit your hair on fire I don't know, whatever, anything that's gonna get them to kind of relate to you because you need to have them realize that you're human. You're not some automaton in here to get content to create video. You're not like that, right? So we're human and we want to exude that.
Victor, I have a question for you about You talked about sending the subject the questions in advance, do you ever find that you don't get the spontaneous answers when you do that or is it always better to...? Or do you have like a list of additional questions that you're gonna throw in on them or do you think it's always good to have them be prepared to that regard?
We are in the business of making our clients look as best as possible. The purpose of giving someone questions prior to and we'll talk about later, is to make them comfortable with the types of questions you're gonna be asking. I'll show you the questions in a second but I didn't ask all those questions. But I wanted him to get an idea of what types of questions I was gonna ask. And in the way of spontaneity, people are spontaneous. The things that I'm saying right now were not rehearsed. The things that I practiced this morning to say to you all I'm not saying because I'm purely reacting off of the energy in the room and off of the content and feedback that I'm getting from the people in front of me. So it's entirely organic, it's entirely unrehearsed, and it's entirely spontaneous. I did three, six months of preparation for this class but that doesn't mean I'm gonna come in here and be like okay, well, page one of my presentation is... I'm gonna look to the class and say hello, hello. It doesn't work like that. It doesn't work like that, and interviews don't work like that either. So when you set up for an interview the second part of this asking the right questions. So what are the right questions? 'Cause that's the silver lining or the golden nugget of this whole conversation is right? How do you ask people the right questions to get what you want out of them? And I think before I show you question tips on my questions what are some questions that you guys would ask? What are some questions that you would have for someone like me? If I'm trying to, I don't know, have you do a profile piece on my burgeoning taco business, I don't know. What are the types of questions that you're gonna ask someone to really dive into it.
What was the passion that you had that made you decide one day to start this business?
That's a great question. That's a great question. I would change it slightly by saying, tell me how you got into doing this. Okay, because when you throw words like passion in there and you throw words that are signifiers people clam up because it's like, oh god, do I have a passion? Am I really doing this? Passion, passion. There's so many inferences from the word passion. It's like hey it's a really softball it's a softball question, how'd you get into this? How'd you get into this? And then build on that, alright?
What do you look forward to most in your day?
That's a good one too. I would change that slightly, instead of saying, what do you look forward to most in your day it's like, what gets you out of bed in the morning? Always relate it back to something that can be very easily relatable, like what gets you out of bed. I mean, 6:00 a.m. rolls around, alarm's hitting, what makes you just open your eyes and spring out of bed?
Why tacos, why not tamales, why not burritos, why tacos?
That's a good question. It's like so I would take a step back from that and say what's your fascination with food? Tell me about food, tell me about why. Not what your choice was because that's going to come out of the conversation but like what is it about food? Why wasn't it craft cocktails? why wasn't it architecture? What is it about food? Can you see how I'm kind of structuring these questions to be more conversational? If you ask someone a conversational... like a question point blank it's like what is your passion? It's really hard to answer that question, it is. Let's have some more, let's get this going a little bit because what I think you're gonna see is your initial question, the initial question you're gonna ask is always gonna be the wrong question. It's the refining of that question that's gonna somehow be the better question.
So earlier you talked about going to school for sociology and then your transition to photography and now film making and teaching, can you talk a little bit about some of those transitions and what prompted them?
That's a good question, it's a process question. You started here you ended up here. I think that's almost, it's structurally correct for me. I would ask a question like that but I think I'd break it up. I'd break it up and I'd go, so tell me about sociology. Why sociology, what was it about that? Did you change your major six times? Did you start off with a computer science major? Did you not like computer science? Did you do economics after that? Psychology, sociology? Oh, why, because you got an A in the class? All these things, right, so you ask them the questions that's gonna get them to the point where... And it's a lot of work. So tell me about sociology. Okay, cool so you mentioned theater so you've already done your homework. You already know their pathway, that's the thing. You already know where they went so presenting yourself as familiar with them already automatically disarms them. So it's like, oh hey, so you major in sociology, so when did you start doing photography? What was that, how'd you get into photography? And make bite sized questions okay? Cool, let's keep going. So question tips. Start off with a few softballs. This is important for me okay? You gotta start somewhere and then dig deeper. You can't dive deep immediately 'cause you haven't earned it yet, you haven't earned it. This one's huge, ask open ended questions. I used to manage retail in my early 20s you know when I was trying to put together a photography gig and in my early 20s I would always train my sales associates to not ask closed ended questions, like how are you doing today? Good. Can I get you a size? Nope. Those are all closed ended questions. An open ended question is, what size are you? well my size is... Another open ended question, a better one is what are you looking for today? You gotta stay awake, 'cause immediately all of us innately go to asking that closed ended question because we want to get a fact. An example is, a lot of associates would always go can I get a size for you? And the automatic answer to that is no 'cause who wants someone to get their size who wants someone to know your size, first off? So that's something that you kind of have to train yourself into asking open ended questions that's really really important. You're not interviewing the president, guys, okay? What that means is you're not... it's not serious. It can at times, be very serious but you're not doing something so so heavy that if you get it wrong we're gonna be in a pickle, okay. So it's okay, you can ask like silly questions. You can ask things and I guarantee you when they interview the president they're always asking him silly things. It's all about personality, okay? This is something that we're gonna practice. It's something called asking follow up questions. A follow up question can easily be why? Or what do you mean by that? How? Could you re-clarify? could you say that again? See, those are all follow ups. A deeper follow up question would take that topic and spin it in. So you said sociology, well how did sociology affect photography? That's a deeper follow up, it's a redirect, it's a pivot. So you're gonna really, kind of like, really start to kind of develop a style in your conversations with people. And as you talk and as you practice talking to people and it's hard, especially when we are like this with our cell phones all the time. Immediacy is a really really important thing to me. Like putting your phone away, sitting on a subway train not looking at your phone, soaking in the moment. Immediacy is very valuable, and that type of immediacy is something that's gonna really really benefit you when it comes time to actually doing an interview. Relevance, immediacy, participation, like radical inclusion or radical participation with all these things. That's what's gonna get a good interview. That's what's gonna help you become someone who is really you're not just naturally easy to talk to. That just happens through practice and through repetition. This is probably kind of like the umbrella statement. It's only a guide, questions are only a guide what yo give to them are only a guide. Let the conversation move on its own. I can tell you I've had really really great conversations with people about things that I'd never really thought were possible because I just listened, you know, you just listen. Someone very very very very dear to me taught me a statement, 'cause I did this a lot. stop listening for the period in their sentence. The minute you stop listening for the period in their sentence you actually start listening to their sentence. Because when you're listening for the period in the sentence you're automatically ready to say something else. So don't listen to the period, listen to the statement. And that's such a valuable thing. So here were our questions. I drew up what, I think 12 or 10 questions. Yeah I think it was something like that, 14 questions. I generally try to write questions specific to the client because they deserve that. Some of them are canned, you know some of them are just like your basic run of the mill questions. Some of them are easy, some of them are a little bit more deep. Some of them I didn't even ask, do you ever see yourself stopping? Just because of the conversation. So as you kind of start to build that question list these are things you think about. And these are things that you end up honing over the period of time as you talk to the client as you kind of develop that. So now that you've seen my questions what would be some follow up questions that you would ask a result of these questions? Let's pretend... Why should anyone pick your gym over cross fit or some other kind of new forms of working out? So lets say you know, I think that my gym provides much more accessibility to personal health and I think that my gym allows anyone of any skill level of any walk of life to come and participate and feel like they've accomplished something. And I think a follow up question for that would be you want to field one?
What have you done to make your gym more accessible?
That's a great follow up. Can you see how that... I gave you guys a statement and as a result of that statement there was a phenomenal follow up question. What makes it different? Okay, so I would say, well we have classes for... throughout the day so that people with busy schedules, they can kind of really dive into the type of workout that they want and I think that what we provide is a great coaching staff and a great staff on hand to cater to the needs of multiple clientele. So a follow up question for that would be?
A little bit more about your clientele and what's unique about them.
Great. So just a constructive criticism is don't say talk about it because then they get out of the mindset just say you know what, who's your clientele? who's your clientele? Who are they? Make sense? That's the follow up scenario, that's your question. It's like going on a first date it's really going on a first date. You're like what do you do, blah blah blah and then you start to dive deeper. You're essentially just trying to get them to say something that you can latch on and then pivot off of and keep going.