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Produce And Create An Impactful Interview

Lesson 3 of 14

Conducting an Interview

Abba Shapiro

Produce And Create An Impactful Interview

Abba Shapiro

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Lesson Info

3. Conducting an Interview


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:03:43
2 Interview Preparation Duration:19:27
3 Conducting an Interview Duration:42:44
5 Location Scouting Duration:04:35
7 Common Framing Mistakes Duration:03:39
8 Interview Subject Placement Duration:02:29
10 Capturing B- Roll Duration:02:13
11 Reaction Shots Duration:03:01
12 Organizing Media and Folders Duration:19:12
13 Review and Edit Duration:23:57
14 Q&A Duration:17:45

Lesson Info

Conducting an Interview

- [Abba] Let's talk a little bit about connecting with your subject. We've actually kind of delved into this, it's not very linear. These are things you think about, but connecting with your subject, and I've talked about some of these things. I've done a lot of talking, you guys have done a lot of nodding. I want you to talk a little bit. Is there anything that I've talked about that you have questions on, or that maybe you've experienced a challenge, you tried to do something and it didn't work? - [Female 1] The issues that I had weren't really with the interview itself, it wasn't the back and forth, it was much more the technical issues that happened. Like we discovered that one of the cameras, the color grading was completely different than one of the other cameras, oops. Yeah, and we're going to have to figure out how to fix it, or we figured out that we had sound difficulties and you know. - So how do we avoid those and how to fix those. So it's not the actual interview part. - R...

ight, right, right. - And we will, we'll cover some technical aspects of this, and then you can beat me up about, "Well, why did it work for you?" Or in most cases, it doesn't work for me, and I'm just really good at polishing the problem. We'll just call it polishing the problem. - Yeah, we'd like those skills. - Yes, anybody, interview challenges? - [Female 2] One of the issues I've had is nervousness, like combating the fear of the camera. That's probably one of the most common things that I have to deal with. - Their fear of the camera or your nervousness also in conducting the interview? - No, their fear. Yeah, both with stills and with the video. So this is a big part of what I do and why I love my job, is helping women overcome whatever it is that's stopping them from being seen. So with the interview process, it's tripled. And I've only tried it a couple times, and it's been kind of awkward for both of us because I don't know how to take care of that part on film. - No, that's a really good point to bring up, because that is paramount in conducting an interview, is putting your interviewed person at ease, because if they're nervous you're not going to get what you want. So there's a lot involved with that. Let me respond to that and then we'll get to your question. As a matter of fact, I'm really glad you asked that question, because look at my next slide, dealing with nervous people. Wow, this was not planned, but serendipity is the best thing that can happen when you're doing an interview. It's huge, people are not used to being on camera, or they're overused to being on camera. Most of the time you have people who get interviewed all the time and they're like, "Argh." They just walk in, they want to do it and get out. And you have the people, it's like, "Oh my God," deer and the headlights. Let's deal with the deer in the headlight situation. Hopefully, if you've had the opportunity to talk to them in advance, you've already built a little bit of a rapport, so they're not that nervous. But they're still going to be nervous, it's still is not a natural environment. When you get there, you don't want to rush in and start the interview, start setting up the gear and they're wandering around, and then you're like "fitsing" with stuff. But the word's not "fitsing," but we know what that word is, I have no idea. Give me a word, people. - Fussing. - Fussing with stuff, okay. Fussing, oh, good. I'll deal with that, a much better word. Remember that for Words with Friends. So you don't want to be fussing with stuff and they're looking, and then you're getting stressed because your gear is not working, and then it's like, "Okay, we're good." Now we're 30 minutes into their time, there's only another 15 minutes left. And it's like, "Let's sit down." And you want to just start that interview right away. And they're like, "Argh." Not a good experience. So the first thing is, try to have your setup done before you bring them in, and tell them about this in advance. That's another advantage of that phone call or email if you need to. If they don't have time for a phone call, you should have a checklist and have an email that you send them to answer what potentially their questions will be, and that list is going to grow the more you interview. Because you'll realize other people have asked certain questions, so you want to preempt that, and you want to give them the answers if possible. How long is the interview going to take? How many people are going to be there? Do I have to wear something special? Do I have to dress up? This is something that always happens. We're coming in to interview you, and you're working in a machine shop. You're going through the interview, and the guy's wearing a shirt and tie. "I'm being interviewed today. I'm dressing up." No, we want you in your environment. But they don't know that, so you need to help them. They're going to be worried about, "Oh, is there going to be a makeup person?" "No, it's low key." "What should I wear?" "Okay, here are some ideas, and also here are some things you should not wear. You shouldn't wear something that's very dark, like a black shirt or a bright, white shirt, or a fine, checked shirt, because when I videotape you there's going to be this like dancing moire pattern. Little things like that, so that they don't show up with something that's going to be tactically a challenge. And when they start thinking about what they're going to wear they kind of have an idea. And you can say these are good colors, blues are good, beige is a color that looks good on you, but something that's more neutral, nothing wild. Don't wear a logo if that logo is going to be a problem. If it's a logo for their company and you're doing an interview about their company, absolutely that's great. But you want to be able to avoid a lot of those problems before and take the opportunity that you do have time before, whether it's on a phone conversation, and even if you do it over the phone you follow it up with an email, because now they have something that they can print out and look at. This is going to allow them to be ready. Tell them what it will be like when they come there, so it's not a surprise. "We're going to do an interview, I'll tell you right now I'm going to have a couple of cameras, there's going to be another person with me just to make sure we get sound. We'll probably throw up some lights. It's not going to feel like it's your normal space, but you have an idea." So they don't walk in cold and know what all the stuff is. And when they do walk in you get to say it again, and you'll probably say it a third time. So these are all the things you want to do in advance so that they're more comfortable. And you've already related to them. So when you actually walk in to do the interview, you've arranged it that, "Do me a favor, tell me where we're going to do it." And this is the scouting part, we're going to scouting in a lot more detail in the videos you'll see. But I do want to emphasize, when you're setting up the interview you're finding out the location, is it their space? Are you bringing them to another space? And if it's a situation where you're going to their space, maybe it's an office, arrange to get there earlier. Say, "Look, the interview is going to take about a half hour to an hour." Don't underestimate the time. Overestimate and end early, and they're happy. Underestimate and run long, they might have another meeting. They're getting nervous, "Why is this taking so long?" Be accurate, don't say, "Okay, it's going to be about four hours," when you know it's going to be 15 minutes. But, give them a reasonable amount of time, and then pad it a little bit. Because you're going to have issues, you're going to have technical problems. And you're going to be like, "Okay, we need to start in 10 more minutes." The other thing is, you want to arrange, maybe if you're going to do it in their office, you can say, "Can I get in there a little bit early? Do you want to work somewhere else so I can set up the lights and not mess up your day, so you can keep working?" So they're not watching and waiting around. You can get all your technical stuff clean and done before you start the interview. Because I'll tell you, and I'm sure you've experienced this, if they're waiting for you sitting in the chair while you're setting up your gear, that's a recipe for disaster. It is, because you're nervous, you're like, "I better hurry up and do this." You forget to change out the batteries, you forget to clear your card. You don't set focus. You don't balance the camera because, "I've got to get going because I'm doing too much stuff." You're trying to do the interview, you're trying to set…because a lot of us are one-man bands or two-man bands. It still is a challenge. So often I'll say, "Is there an office I can set up in?" Or perhaps if you're in your office, "Is there a place that you can work before because it's going to take me about a half hour to set up my gear? So let's arrange it, maybe you'll be at lunch." If it's an executive maybe you go, "Look, maybe you're in a meeting, can you arrange with your secretary that maybe he can arrange to have your office empty and he can let you in, and then you go to your meeting and then when you're ready to come in and be interviewed it's all set up, and you sit down." And they respect the fact that you respect their time, that you value their time. And they don't see all the commotion. and you're not thinking, "They're judging me, that I'm not technically astute." They're not going, "Why is this taking so long? I have an iPhone, I could have done this interview myself of myself." So those are some things to think of. So that's the preparation. Try to have them not watch you set up however you can do that. If it's coming in early, if it's doing it at a less busy time, if it's in their home, say, "Look, it's going to take me about a half hour. I'll come in, this is the space." Don't even worry about trying to be, "Wait around for me to set up, you can do other things. We're going to take about a half hour to do this." And then you can focus. That's usually what I like to do. Sometimes it is challenging, sometimes they want to just really chat with you. And you have to really... Manage them is... Making them calm is one thing, managing them is another. And you have to sometimes think of a diversion. So like, "Let me set this up, I just want to check audio, whatever and I'll get back to you." Or if there's something you keep on saying, "Something you need to do, go ahead and do it. I'm going to be about another 20 minutes. And trust me it's like watching grass grow." So then your gear is set up, you're not going to mess up there. And their time is respected. And then when you actually bring them in to do the interview, you're ready to start, or continue I should say that relationship that you've already developed with them. So I never sit down and start the interview as an interview. I sit down and I put them in wherever they're going to sit. And first thing I might do is just some idle chit chat, "Did you see it raining cats and dogs?" "Yes, I stepped into a poodle." "Oh my God, that's a bad joke." "Go away." I have wonderful conversations with myself. No, but start with a little bit of conversation, and then point out all this gear if there's a lot of gear, what is around. "You know, I just want tell you we have a camera right here. I want you to talk to me. Ignore the camera. As a matter fact, I have a couple other people in the room." That happens sometimes. You do an interview, there's other people watching. People have this tendency to say, "Oh, I need to be polite, I'm going to talk to you as the interview, but I better acknowledge the other people in the room." Well, that's really polite for the other people in the room, but when you're watching the final video it's like, "Why are they wondering around the room? Who are they talking to? What's going on?" So you just need to reinforce that, you can say, "Just talk to me, we're having a conversation." You need to make eye contact. Don't be buried in your script. If you are making eye contact, and you're engaged, and understanding, and listening to what they're saying, they're not going to start looking at everybody else. If they still are looking at everybody else, if you have other people in the room, put them all in one location. Tell them, "No, don't look at that." Also things to tell them, "Don't share your eye contact between me and the camera." Because that's distracting to the viewer. It's like, "Wait, are they talking to the fourth wall or are they being interviewed?" So again, most of the time you'll be doing interviews and it will be off camera. And you want to be as close to the camera as possible so you don't see the person in profile. But if it is to camera, it always has to be to camera. Maybe it's an executive who is giving a presentation to their employees. And it's not really an interview but it's two people. So you have to make sure that they stay focused on the camera. To the point that if you need to sit behind the camera and say, "You're looking through the lens at me," that's what you do. You want them to understand what's going on. You want to tell them about the mic, "We're going to put a mic on you because we need good audio." You want to inform them why we have these lights that are really bright in their eyes, everything that's going on. You want to tell them about some of the technical things that you'll probably be doing during the production. "There might be times where I need to stop you because we need to change the battery," or "I need to double-check that the framing is right," or "I need to make sure we have enough space in our card. I want to check to make sure we're getting good audio. I may need to stop you because there's noise outside." Generally, unless it's ridiculous, let them go, don't interrupt them, and then have them do it again. But those are all things that they're aware of their environment. So now you've solved the problem about the environment and their impatience for setting things up. Now they're still nervous when you're talking to them because they're not used to being interviewed. You're not doing an interview, you're having a conversation. You know what you want to talk about, but you're having a conversation. As a matter of fact, before I start the interview, and by the way, and I'll mention this a few times, I roll even when I'm telling them that I'm not rolling. If there's a red light in the camera, turn it off, put a piece of tape over it. You'll get some of the most natural responses. It's not cheating. Your goal with this interview is to make them look as good as possible, to make them as believable as possible, to catch the real person. So it's not like I'm cheating to do that. Sometimes you get some amazing stuff when they think the camera is not rolling. I can't tell you the number of people that you say, "roll," you're talking, and everything's great, and you go, "Okay, let's do it," and suddenly a new person gets washed over their face, and they're like, "I think this is good." It's like, "What happened to that person I was just talking to?" Build in time for that conversation, whether it's 5 minutes or 10 minutes, build in that time, start talking to the people. Go back to the things that you might have talked about on the phone. If you didn't talk on the phone, talk to them about something that you might have read about on the Internet. Maybe you haven't even done either of those. Look around, if you're at their house, in their office, what are some clues in their office about something that you can relate to, you can honestly relate to? Maybe you see a family picture and you see where they went on vacation. Maybe you see a book on the shelf that looks interesting. It's like, "Oh, you know, tell me…" It could be anything. And it can be unrelated to the interview, because again, you're trying to make that connection. If you succeed in making a connection at the beginning, then your interview becomes a conversation. And then the only challenge you have is making sure you get the sound bites you want. And then people will still get nervous. You start talking, eventually if you keep talking, you're rolling the camera, they forget it's there, it becomes a conversation. But sometimes you need them to do something over again and again, and that's a challenge. It's like, "That's a great story." It took him five minutes to tell the story. You're doing a two-minute vanity piece. This could be a challenge. Be honest with them, say like, "We want to do something that's about two minutes," hit them hard. "That's a great story, let's see if we can make it shorter." Use the elevator example. "Can you tell me the same story, but what if we were in an elevator together, and we both had to get off on the fourth floor, how would you tell me that story?" Okay, it gives them perspective. It's better than saying make it shorter, because now they have a mental timeframe. And it's like, "Okay, what's the key points?" And if you need to have them do it again, don't hesitate to say that. Say, "I really like that, let's try to focus on this." And if they start getting nervous about you having them… If they start to, "Let's do a pickup, we'll do a cut here, roll back." Look, I have to do it again myself a second time. But if they do get nervous about, "Why am I repeating it? I'm not doing it right. You're having me say this over again, I'm horrible at being interviewed." Point out that everybody, when they're interviewed do things multiple takes. Actors, when they do a scene, do multiple takes. Tell them, and in your case you may have to fabricate this initially but it will be a real story eventually that you've done other interviews where you've done 20 takes with somebody. And they're only going to take 3, they're doing great. You need to constantly reassure them that they're doing a good job. They're not making mistakes. There's no way they can make a mistake because we're having a conversation. And once you've put this in perspective about, "Yes, you're nervous, everybody's nervous. Don't worry about it. We're going to talk. I'm going to get something good. I might have you say something again. And if I have you say it again, it's not because you did it wrong." And if they do it, they have to do it they have to do it multiple times, and you need it one more time, don't say, "Okay, let's do it one more time," maybe blame the equipment. "I want to make sure the cameras work. I think we had a glitch." "Oh, there was," whether there was or not, "There was a sound that I think your mic picked up. So it's great, what you said was good. Let's say it again, and while you're saying it again can you focus on this point because you said it before and it was great." So now it's not always them who, "I have to say it again because I'm not doing it right." Blame it on other things. Have them rephrase it. And this is another thing that's important. Think about these sound bites, that they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. That it's not just rambling on. That you can use it because you're thinking, as you're doing the interview, "Where can I use this? Will this work for me?" And that's going to be key. Point out to them again the brevity. The elevator thing is a good example. If I told somebody that we're doing a two-and-a-half minute piece on you, and we are probably going to use three sound bites, it can't be five minutes long. Let's try to find something that's really to the point. And because you're doing this as a conversation, they should relax. And the final thing, there's never a final thing. There's only one more thing. But the final thing for me to say at this point is, when you're doing this interview do not be buried in your questions or your script. The worst thing you can do is interview somebody, ask them a question, and while they're answering you're looking down to see what your next question is. You see reporters, poor reporters do this all the time. Because all they want to do is read the questions and get their point. The person knows you're not looking at them. The person knows the next question has nothing to do with what they're saying. Engage with them, listen to them, make eye contact, nod, sincerely react. Because you're listening you can react. If they say something that's important, follow it up with another question about what they just talked about. That's a conversation. Random questions thrown at somebody expecting to get the sound bite that sounds natural is not going to work. That's why you have to budget more time and be prepared to do things over again, and be prepared that when you're looking back at your footage you're going to have a lot of stuff that you don't need, that you're not going to use. Because it's not germane. But you're going to have some really sweet, little sound bites that are going to help you tell your story. So that's one of the key things to keep somebody from being nervous. And you, as you do more interviews will become more relaxed, because you will reflect. If you're nervous, they may see nervous. But if you get to know them, you get to talk to them, you can relate to them one-on-one, then you'll get good stuff. You had a question. You see, I don't forget. - [Male] The question was related to, do you give the interviewee the questions in advance, or at least bullet points in advance? - That's a great question. Do I give the interviewee the questions in advance? Sometimes. There's pluses and minuses, and you need to make the call yourself. The challenge is if you give them the questions they come with prepared, formulated answers which they might have even written down and expect to repeat as if they're reading from...well, they will be reading from a script, and it will not be good. So that's the one end of the spectrum. They overprepare. On the flipside, if you don't give them any questions, and you haven't really talked to them, they have no idea what you're going to talk about. They haven't been able to formulate their thoughts. So if I do give them something, they're very broad. "These are the areas that we're going to be talking about. We're going to be talking about why you moved to the neighborhood. What do you like about the neighborhood?" Because now you're making this real estate video, right? So you're talking to people just to get an idea of what it's like to move there. And then they can start thinking about things, because you don't want to situation where they haven't thought about.... And they're trying to think of a story. If you've talk to them on the phone or even email back and forth to find a little bit about what they're going to talk about, because you're interviewing them in advance. You have some ideas, you just say, "Oh, this was a really good thing you were talking about when you opened your first restaurant that failed. You really learn from that experience, and that's going to be great for the audience to hear. Remember, we'll talk about that." So that's the kind of things you want to send in advance. You want them to be able to answer the questions. So that's why you would send them, but you don't want them to have prepared, canned responses because it doesn't work. Yeah, that's a good point. So that's my idea. The other thing that you need to keep in mind when interviewing somebody, is if you are not going to be seen, and for the most part our interviews that we're doing, you don't see the interviewer. We're not newscasters. So while doing the interview, be conscious of a couple things, tell them that they will not hear the question. So their answer has to incorporate part of the question so we have context. "They're not going to hear me." So don't start responding by, "Yeah, that's great. This is why I do this." Turn my question into part of your answer, if they're not doing it. And don't ask a question that has a yes or no answer. So I may go to you, April. You're like, "No, no, no, don't put me on the spot." Where are you from? - [April] Eugene, Oregon. - Eugene, Oregon. That was a great sound bite, wasn't it? So this would be your question. April, where are you from, and what do you like about where you live? - I grew up in Eugene, Oregon. It's absolute beautiful. It's the hills, the cascades, and… - And never wanted to leave. - Nope. - Okay, so it's a little more… And then we would get a conversation. I might throw it again. But do you notice that it wasn't a yes or no question, and hopefully I'll have a little bit of information. And then we can continue the conversation. You may put the mic down, you're not in the spotlight anymore. Didn't mean to… No, no, don't talk. See, now you're all being interviewed, you'll be better interviewers, you won't be nervous. But you also get to feel what it's like. Which is important, because being able to empathize with the person across from you, you can explain that, "Look, I've been interviewed, I'm nervous. We're both in the same boat, I'm just lucky to be on this side of the camera. So don't sweat it, we're going to get it right." And that's important. I want to expand upon that a little bit, because we talked about the average person, but sometimes you need to go in and you need to do, say, an executive. The opposite end of the spectrum. Somebody who thinks that they are pro at interviewing things. And I'm going to give an example that I had. The secretary of defense, you walk in, and this was years ago. So I'm not going to say which secretary it was, but they're all same. They're powerful people. And I was like, I needed to get a sound bite, it was ultimately benefiting something he wanted to say. And I'm having his people, I'm dealing with his people the whole time. They're like, "You're going to set up, when he comes in you can ask him one question, he will give you one answer, and then he's going to go. Pretty scary, huh? And you're like, "Oh my God, the pressure is on me. I'll lose my job. I'm not going to get a good sound bite." We set it all up, we sat down, they come in, a little chit-chat. You're not going to say, "Tell me about your summer vacation," because this guy is busy. You point out, you respect their time. It's like, "Thank you, I appreciate the time that you're taking. We'll do this as quick as possible. This is what we discussed that you're going to talk about. So I'm going to ask you this question, I'm going to get the sound bite." You get the first sound bite. The guy standing over there who's the handler has gone, "Okay, we're ready to go." And then you go, "That was great, but it was a little long. And I want you to do it again. And here's the thing, is a lot of people that you want to see this are going to see this, and I want you to look your best. I want this to be really nice and tight. Can we try this again? Are you okay with that?" So again, you're not demanding it, but you're putting it in perspective of, "I want you to look your best." And that should be for everybody. And everybody wants to look their best. Everybody has a little bit of an ego. Secretaries of defense sometimes have even bigger egos. And you know something? He gave me four or five takes. And he was comfortable with it. And he ultimately controls the handler. If he says, "No, we're good." He knows his schedule, he wants to look good. In that case, I got the sound bite I wanted, because I respected his time, I told him the value of his comment. And I said, "It's for you, I'm doing this interview for you." I implied that or I said that. I wouldn't say, "This is for you, so you better do it right." No, but somebody who has a very tight schedule, you need to remind them of that. They're in the public eye. So those are some of the tricks, and you will learn your own tricks. We can only cover so many tricks in the finite amount of time that we have today. So those are some of the things. I'm going to tell you another war story. Because I think you can learn from my mistakes and sometimes my wins. The Associate Press asked me to do an interview of a really big rap star. I'm from the DC area, he was in Baltimore. They were shooting this big, huge music video. And I got my camera guy, and we went in, and we said, "Okay, we'll be there at noon," he's handler said noon. We get there on set. For my production background I knew what the schedule was, and when my window was. And I look at the production and I said, "There is no way that I'm going to get my interview at the time I want, because I can see they're behind schedule. They think they can do three setups between now and six o'clock." So I assess the situation that, I'm going to have to wait. I'm going to have to go with this guy's schedule. Now, one thing I did before the interview when I was…and I was assigned the interview the night before. So I really have the night before and the morning to do my prep work. I wasn't going to call him. I can't call him. I'm not going to email him. He's a big star, He knows what he's talking about, right? He's in charge. But what I did do is I did as much research as I could about the guy. Not about the music video that he was doing necessarily, not about his former albums. I read about when he talked about his family and his kids, that he talked about the tattoos on himself were the kids' birthdays, that even though this perception of being this rap star, he still is a dad. And that you have this idea that he's lived in the suburbs of New York and Jersey. So there was the persona. And I read about how we came up, what his progression was as a performer. And also what he was doing and projecting to do. And that even in one interview he said, it was like in March, he had pre-recorded, or already recorded the album he was going to release at Christmas. So we were talking about the album that was… the hit song that was out now. So I knew all this stuff. So I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and they delay us. We move to the next locations physically, like from one location to like 15, 20 minutes away. I'm waiting, it's six o'clock, it's seven o'clock, it's eight o'clock, it's nine. I have to get the interview. The handler's saying, "We're there, we're there." Finally at midnight, at midnight the handler comes in and he says, "Meet him in his trailer. You've got about 10 minutes because we're running behind." "Thank you, I appreciate it." Got in, we knew it had to be set up fast. The gear was set up outside, we brought it in. I was lucky I did have a cameraman. And then we sat down. And while the cameraman was doing the last couple of minutes of things, I started to talk to him about some of the personal stuff that he was passionate about, his kids. It was like I looked at his tattoos and I said, "I read those are your kids' birthdays." He goes, "Yeah, yeah. I was really excited when I had them. And this is something that I want to remember." And we started talking about that stuff, and the fact that I knew his history. And the takeaway from this is because I valued his time, because I was interested in him as a person, I wasn't asking questions like, "Tell me about the music video you're doing." I don't know what it is. "Tell me why you like being a rap star." Anybody can ask those questions. I had started the conversation with him about him. And we ended up actually doing a one-hour interview. And I got sound bites for…because I knew there was an upcoming album in December, that was evergreen stuff that they could use when that was released. And we could talk about his current album, we could talk about him as a person. We've got a lot of great different sound bites. But the fact that he could tell his people, "Okay, I'm…" They're not going to say, "Come on, you're running…" He's like, "I'm good." Because we were having a conversation, because I took the time to find out more about him than the persona. And that's what I think the challenge, you see some interviews and you see YouTube, some people are like, "This was a nightmare interview." You can see the reporter is asking the same questions you would ask anybody. Has nothing to do with the individual. And that's what's going to make the difference when you have to interview somebody who you don't necessarily know or is of a certain stature and you want to get good stuff. That was actually a pretty proud moment. We were there till one o'clock in the morning. I was pretty tired, but I came home with something that was worthwhile. So that's one of the keys. Let's take a look at some of our other points to consider as we move forward. I do want to talk about when dealing with kids and dealing with people on the street. When you're responding to something they've talked about, you're having that conversation, try to listen but also try to use some of the words they used at the end of their statement, at the end of what they were talking about to lead into the next question. That's a natural thing. It's like, they're talking about the fact that Oregon is just absolutely beautiful. And then you go, "I've heard that. Tell me about some of the places that if I go there, what should I see?" And he goes like, "Well, Oregon's huge. Where in Oregon are you going to go?" "I'm going to visit America, what should I look at?" But, you're listening to what they're saying and you're asking a question that will further you down the line. Never cut off the person, let them talk. Because if you cut them off you can't use that bite because your voice is in it. Nod, lean in. If you lean in, guess what? They'll lean in, you'll be more engaged. If you need them to stop, start as if you're going to ask a question. They see that you're about to say something, they'll wrap up without you having to cut them off. On the flip side, maybe you want them to keep talking. So they finish what they're saying, and you're like, "Yeah." You look at them like you're waiting for them to say something else. And most people will be like, "Oh, I guess I'm not done," and they'll keep talking. So be aware of some of those techniques to either get more out of them or to… Scientists are horrible. I have to give you some real-world examples. So sometimes you need somebody as a content expert, it's a mathematician, a scientist. I did stuff with NASA. You ask a NASA scientist for a 30-second answer, you will get a 4-hour response about things you absolutely do not understand. So you need to explain to them, and this is true in any sound bite you're looking for, that if they have a tendency to give a long answer, point out that they're the content expert. We can have a narrator explain what you're going to cover before you even say it. And you get to say the gem, you get to validate what the narrator is talking about. "So I really need you to say just about this." We have animation that talks about the technical aspect of how this moon is orbiting around. Don't worry about that. I want you to say like, 'This was really cool when we discovered it, and we did it, but it took us 10 years to get that moon approved.'" So you have to give them the context, and tell them that, "Look, you don't have to tell me everything. You don't have to tell me the history of the world while standing on one foot. All I want to know is, what was your part in the history of the world in 15, 20 seconds?" And they'll try, then they'll get it down from four hours to four minutes. And they'll try it again. You'll get it down to two minutes, and then eventually you might get the sound bite you want. So that's one of the things you need to deal with. I wanted to talk about working with kids. And this is important because it's inevitable. And this is true not even just to kids. But first of all, did you notice I sat down when I was doing this class with you? I started off standing up, and that would be a normal lecture thing. But we're having a conversation. Is it a conversation if I'm standing over you and talking? Absolutely not. I try to get to the same height. So if you are doing any kind of an interview, you want to be at the same height of the person, you want to be relatable. If they're sitting, you're sitting. I'm sitting in a very open stance. I'm not behind a desk, I'm not behind the camera, I'm not putting anything between us. I'm trying to physically relate to the person as I would if I was really having a conversation. If I was going to interview a kid, would I walk up to the kid and be, "Tell me a little bit about why you really like going to this school. Okay, tell me a little bit more." That's what you would get. If I was interviewing a kid, I'm down on one knee, I'm talking to them eye to eye. They could even be a little bit taller than me, I'm putting the camera down to their height, I'm not shooting down. We're relating, we're having a conversation. I'll sit on the floor. The whole idea is that I want it to be comfortable. If I'm talking to a little kid, I'm not going to just start asking about school, I'm going to look at his outfit or her outfit and say, "I like those sneakers, if my kids were little, they would have loved those sneakers." And he's like, "Yeah, aren't they the coolest thing? Look, I run and they light up." I'm like, "Yeah, I would like those sneakers," I start a conversation with them, because I'm noticing something that they're wearing. Or I'll say, ignoring the... I want to know about the school, "But tell me a little bit about what you like to do when you go out and play. Do you play video games? Do you play kickball? What do you do?" And now they're getting all excited because they're talking about something that is cool to them. Now you got them talking. You can't get them to stop talking sometimes, but you have them talking, because you've developed a rapport. And now when you ask them a question, they're going to really give you these great, little sound bites. And guess what? Little kids grow up to bigger kids. When you get to a bigger kid, you're not going to go, "Hey, do you like playing Pokémon?" And they're like... Don't try to be cool, especially with kids. They will find you out every time. Relate to them, ask what's interesting, it's like, "I don't even know what people are… What do you watch on YouTube? Tell me, what's interesting? What do you do to kill time?" And don't try to say, "Yeah, yeah, I'm really cool. Oh, those are really..." Be yourself, but be interested and ask them about themselves. One of the best things and this is just great in life, if you have a conversation with somebody, and all you're doing is asking them questions and letting them talk, it has been proven that if somebody goes and asks them what they thought about the person who was asking them the questions, they'll come back and they'll say, "That person was a great conversationalist." All I did was be interested and ask them things about them that I really wanted to know. And they talked 85% of the time. But they had... everybody likes talking about themselves. So, there's a book called, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." I'm drawing a blank on the… It'll come to me. Everything, my brain… What? - Is it Carnegie? - Carnegie, yes. Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." I recommend that, that's a great reference for how to interact with people, how to be a better interviewer. But going back to really different people, kids, if you need to talk to somebody you have no idea about them, find something you can relate to. Anything, clothes they're wearing. Talk about television. Oh, this is great. A good friend of mine gave me some advice years ago that has been really valuable. I said, "How do you stay up on everything?" He goes, "Oh, I get Entertainment Weekly or People Magazine, and I spend 10 minutes a week just thumbing through and seeing, what's the latest movie? What's the latest TV show? What's the latest music? What's hot? So now I can bring stuff up. So maybe it's something like, "Oh, Game of Thrones. You watch Game of Thrones?" They're like, "Yeah, it was great. Did you see the last few episodes?" "No, I've been meaning to watch." Don't say, "Yeah, I saw it. It was great." And they go, "Yeah, what did you think about…?" But you go, "Everybody I know is watching. And it's great, I just need to set up the time to do it." But you've broken the ice. Find something that you can relate to and being aware of current events. You don't have to go deep, but you have to find something you can relate to. So I'm going to give you a chance to ask some questions as I look… Anything new in the question front? - So one of the things I'm thinking about doing is interviewing people that are on the street, or chefs as we're walking through the farmers' market. And so it would be both of us on camera maybe walking forward. And one of the things I'm thinking about is how do you create rapport? How do you think about your sight lines? Like if I'm standing next to them but we're walking forward. - So you're walking with them discussing things? - Right. - And it's somebody you have already established a relationship with? - Yeah, that's right. - At least for 5 or 10 minutes, right? We have. - So it is. And hopefully, you're not a one-man band because you'll be using a selfie stick to do this recording, which I guess could work, anything can work. First of all, and I do talk about this in the technical part, the most important thing you can do with an interview like that is get good sound. Do a wireless mic. Mic them with the lavaliers. Like, "I can't do a wireless, it's too technical." I point out later that one of my favorite things to do is I get a medium-price lavalier microphone between 20 and 80 bucks that plugs into my iPhone. And I use a recording application, and I put that in their pocket, and I clip it to their lapel. And while we're talking, I'm getting good sound. I'm also getting sound from the camera so I can sync it up. But that's going to make a huge difference than trying to get a mic as they're talking, especially if you're in a crowded area. And you probably already have an old smartphone. And you plug this in, and it's good, they can put it in their pocket and you can walk. And you can do the same thing with yours, if you wanted. You sync it up whether you're using Premiere or Final Cut. So that's important. The other thing is, explain to them what they're doing. You want to in that environment not get too far away, because if you zoomed in, you have your shooting, and it's going to be really jumpy. You want to be relatively close. So it's a wide angle, it's walking backwards, and you basically want to be leading them. It's both of you, then you're establishing what's happening, who's talking. You don't want a lot of camera moves, you don't need to zoom into the person because then you're going to ask a question. So you just want it to engage. And then your goal is to get B-roll if you need to cut things. So it's great, you're in a farmers' market. You don't have to do it while you're doing the interview, but you go back and you shoot some of the things that you've walked by, if they've referenced something. While they're talking maybe you'll say that, "Let's do a couple of cutaways, I want to get you like picking up this fruit or whatnot, and perhaps we'll get you talking to somebody else so that we can use it as B-roll." Think about, during the conversation what you can get that you can use. Because you'll want to be able to spice things together and you don't want jump cuts. - What would you recommend looking at and watching their interview styles? - Oh, that's a great question, and you know, I've never been asked that question before. You should've emailed me that question beforehand so I would have been ready. You know, here's the challenge, with some interview shows you can learn how to conduct an interview, but you have to realize that they have the luxury of hearing the question. So it's more of a news interview. Unless you're doing a news-style interview, I wouldn't necessarily watch a lot of that. But you should see how they transition, how their body language is with the other person. That's going to all help you tell the story, and you'll be able to emulate that. The other thing is, you're going to start watching interviews differently. So you're saying to yourself when you're watching it, "Okay, this person telling the story, I know in my mind they did a bunch of cutting. Oh, look, there's B-roll, I wonder if they cut that off. Oh, look at the framing, does that work for me? They put him behind his desk, I don't want him behind his desk, that creates a barrier. I'm going to put him on the edge of his desk." If you see something you like, remember that. If you see something that you don't like, learn from that too. Start watching this stuff differently from an editor's point of view, from the interviewer's point of view, and you can learn as much from a bad interview as a good one. There was a great interview that was all over YouTube, where a reporter, so I'm talking generic here, interviewed a legend of a comedy star. And you could tell that he came in and didn't really… He had packed questions. Didn't even care about the real person. And this guy just took him down. He's been interviewed thousands of times, and it was like he knew. He was giving one-word answers. And what I learned from that, People were like, "Oh my God, I can't believe this, it was the ultimate fail of an interview." To me, I said, "This was the ultimate failure of the person doing the interview because he didn't do is homework and he didn't care enough about the person he was talking to, to get to know him. So the person he was talking to enjoyed talking with him and gave him the sound bites that he wanted. And that's something you have to keep in mind, people need to enjoy themselves in the conversation and it will be better.

Class Description

The most memorable videos, tell a story. Developing interview skills that are both technical and personal, can greatly increase your storytelling ability. Abba Shapiro joins Creative Live to break down all the components of producing and piecing together an interview. Abba will cover every step to get you comfortable with capturing an interview from set-up through sharing. You’ll learn: 

  • How to use and be confident with the gear you have and gear you may need 
  • Lighting techniques and camera angles that will ease your time in post 
  • How to get your subject comfortable on camera 
  • How to ask questions to get your subject to speak in a way that edits clearly/smoothly 
  • Audio guides for mic’ing your subject and backup options 
  • Successful workflow tips on ingesting and organizing your media 
  • Editing your piece together in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 
As you grow your video client list, you’ll need to be confident in capturing interviews by yourself or with a crew. Join Abba as he breaks down the confusion and gets you creating memorable stories confidently and quickly. 



I found this course very helpful and I recommend it. I picked up a lot of tips, and frankly this course made me realize that putting more preparation into client interactions AND using a more sophisticated production pays off in higher quality video. I wish he had gone into more detail on microphones and camera gear but I can pick that up on review sites.

Jess Connor

At first, I felt like the class was difficult to get into during the "live" instruction but quickly found after the first few classes that the information was extremely valuable. Maybe it was just me- maybe it just wasn't my style at first. I absolutely would recommend this class to anyone interested in learning interview or basic film skills. It's brilliant!

Geo Wright

Abba was great at explaining why you would do a specific thing in an interview and also the editing as well. Well worth watching.