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The Lone Wolf Filmmaker

Lesson 11 of 15

Basic Interview Setup

Bill Megalos

The Lone Wolf Filmmaker

Bill Megalos

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Lesson Info

11. Basic Interview Setup

Lesson Info

Basic Interview Setup

I think we've gone through enough stuff now that we can really make some, uh, good decisions and good discussion about, uh, interviews about shooting interviews, that's what we're going to do next, which is, for better or worse, one of the real core elements of of a film of ah nonfiction film people telling you what they feel and what they are giving their perspective. This is the way we really identify with people. Someone tell you real quick story about this film that I did a number of years ago you guys were here in the bay area. So you know about hp, hewlett packard and hewlett packard is kind of the model for for tech companies and the way people were treated and they there was a whole very there's a book called hp way and the whole way of working of treating your treating your employees right and making them feel like family and very legendary among hp. Well, at one point h p stop being the company that started out as, which was an engineering in a technical device and medical de...

vice company, and it started selling computers and printers and all of a sudden this this more or less consumer sort of their business started taking over, and they realize that they were not able to take care of the other and decided to split into two companies well rather, they didn't handle it very well. The news got out, it was on the radio and so all these employees felt that they had been betrayed, that they thought they had a job for life. They thought they were going to be jettisoned by hp and that they were going to lose their jobs, and if they didn't lose their jobs, they're going to have to go with this new company that was no longer called hp. So I was hired to make a film for their big meeting that they showed around the world to all their employees telling them, hey, things are going to be great now and so it was all involved, so I actually traveled around the world I went I filmed in palo alto I filmed in boston I filmed in scotland I filmed in penang in malaysia, where they that place is and I brought people in from other places too, and the idea that what I said was were my idea of what this film had to be was it's one big family wait and so I had to make really identification was the biggest thing and inspiration to two of the guys we talked about before, and I felt the first thing we needed to deal with was to talk about people, how they felt when they found out that they were going to be cut, cut away and so what I did was it was very important to me this is to talk about what do you do when you do an interview? How important is the background? How do you set up this shot? How do you do this? So this whole film I'm going, I'm going to blast through all these. These are all people, but what I was trying to do here was show the diversity of the people show people people that were recognizably hp places so that anything that was in the shot with something they recognize to put people in their lives, and so that everybody said, oh, this is us, this is us. This is who we are, so I shot at places I used the architecture in the place I used labs I use whatever it was that made people say that's fest, the company I work in and so that's, so for that reason, these interview locations were very important, I also wanted to say, the thing that was happening was that hp was this big, lumbering giant that was not really able to compete effectively, and I didn't know the name of the new company that we're very secretive about that, I had to get people to talk about it. Other words. So I interviewed about forty people for this film around the world and not just interviewed them, but film them doing their lives like with their family. Or one of them was a rock climber. Someone did indian dancing. Someone else did play the guitar tv. People doing whatever they did it with someone was gonna go cart all difference, because the each piece things anyway, so, um, but we wanted to show it was a young, vibrant company. So because of that, a lot of decisions, like turning the camera side nice things like that, making dramatic shots and making things look like it was young being really kind of edgy, if you will. So this was something you know, again at this, this this background information that you put in there helps tell your story. You know, these air intelligent people, they're scientists, there's books in the background. Um, this is a lab where they're, you know, you can see the lab. You can see all the equipment in here again from the low angle. Makes him look quite dramatic, makes the company look like stuff is going on. Um, this is one of the key points in the film where she she tells a very important story but again placing people in their environment saying this is who we are we're a big company were around the world this is a this is this is a you know the lobby in the place in in ah outside of boston and you know the places that people would recognize lobbies that people had seen this is another one in the lobby but also making the company look elegant and making it look dynamic this is the this is the place in scotland which is a famous ah you know again these are recognizable landmarks for the people they're not not throwing anything away here's a lab not throwing not taking a moment to throw anything away show this is showed her doing like extreme boxing and things like that in her personal life but again this is this's water reflecting up here trying to make dramatic images making them look well she's a sales person so this was this was an idea here I really didn't have a lot of time so I filmed these two people together on a long lens which allows me to have a minimal depth of field so she's in focus he's listening and then when he starts talking we rack the focus we change the folks tim and she's listening it was a really great interview they were laughing they made each other laugh and you know they said we're going to the company's going to be great and you said you were going to get portions instead of you know, as company cars and she said, do you really think so? So it's you know it's a different way dynamic trying to be dynamic showed a young company again showing the diversity of the company this is a this is outdoor seating area. It was a little lab in their microscopes home life just well, this is one of the original hp devices in the silla scope. Trying to get as much depth is possible here just building it, building it up, you know, just really again the background is part of the story in this film. Okay, um, this this interview right here I actually put the camera on on a rolling tripod like that and walked along with him backwards while he's walking so it really felt more dynamic than sitting down this guy had a very bad lazy eye so light him from this side dark in this eye, all right using it says where they're says edinburgh up there you know again any little bit that says identification this is us this is our company, but yes, so filmed him again on the angle to make him look a little who's kind of a schlubby guy but, you know, build him up um you know what? Whatever we can do now this is another totally different thing and we're going to get over here in just a moment. This is a film this is from a serious that I did about people in recovery from alcohol, drug abuse, eating disorders, gambling addiction, sex addiction and it was a show called testimony and the entire show was just this close up no cutaways, no baby pictures no nothing there was just this and the reason I chose this for this was I really wanted you to focus on the people their eyes this this this shot says this person is telling the truth or is not telling the truth you can tell when but this is giving you and this is as much as possible a direct connection to the person. So for this one background well out of focus just the blue the blue is in contrast makes his face look warmer so it really everything in here it just focus use you down into here so that when he's talking that's all you care about the rest of the world disappears he's talking right to you even though he's not talking to the camera. Right? So um and just enough contrast here so you really feel three dimensional and also another guy don't you can't see it in this shot but the reason that this side was kind of shadowed is because he he had a big scar he was he was a pretty rough guy was a pimp and he was a rough guy and not very nice. Now he he was my barber for a little while back when I need you to barber and, um anyway but he had this big scar here that that I thought would be very distracting from the show um this is my way of shooting interviews okay, what I do is you always lead the person you don't put them in the center there's access these on access is the axis is between the interview person and the film right? That access is a line between them how far off do you sit with your questions? That's your that's your big issue here so here's the person right here is the camera here's on this side the person's looking to the left toe the left right so we'll have the person looking to the left here so here's the here's, the here's, the person here's the interviewer right depending on how far back it is if the camera is closer and this is just the same far but it's actually a further angle away you don't want it looking so close to the camera that their eyes flicker to the camera and see the camera all right you don't want people looking into the camera unless they are directly and now I need you to give your money open up your wallets and open up your hearts we really you know, unless this like that you don't want that what you wanted in interviews you want it to feel like there's no camera crew there and that you've just it's like people really talking and that you just happen to be a fly on the wall there so but the more that someone looks off access, the more you would push them to this side of the frame okay? If they're looking closer to the camera, then they'd be more a little more in the centre but what's really what really works here is if you like them from this side of the frame if you like them from this side of the frame it catches light in their eyes and it also makes this dark so so that it makes their face actually look thinner if you like them from this side this is going to be dark here and their faces going to kind of look but there's also not going to be a light in the eye will show that real quick with this okay, so lead them and like them from the leading side when I say lead I mean more room there okay let's let's go over there why don't you guys set up a shot with me you guys set up a shot I'll be the interview subject one ofyou will interview me and one of you will shoot me there we go. All right can someone jump on that camera? I wouldn't move it to close but okay who's gonna who's gonna operate the camera jessica who's meant to film school so let's zoom in and where the zoom is it's on the handle there we go let's zoom in and let's do a shop oh, you took you to change that here okay, hold on. So what? We're going to be okay. Okay, wait okay. So let's see what happens let's see what happens with this when we was police out of the way a little bit okay, so I'm going to sit here, ok? Let's sum let's go in a little bit tighter for this let's go into like this. Okay? Ish yeah, that that looks good now there's a little bit of headroom there that I think a little much little too much headroom headroom is the area above my head you know that that looks pretty good now I'm wondering these air kind of distracting so maybe you do want to zoom in a little bit more from that you see those those things that alright, maybe maybe shot you can move that light this behind me and just or or eric okay, so now just for the moment just put me in the centre now, okay? Okay, I'm in the center so when we were talking about the lighting if I'm looking over here you can see the light in my eyes and you can see this black over here if I'm looking over here it's not working is it it's not it's, not nearly as good let's try this. I'm going to take this late. I'm going to move this light a little bit closer over here not because I want it brighter I want it more off angle. Okay, I wanted a little bit more dramatic. This is a very nice light here. I can't see what I look like what? I assume I look fantastic. Um I want to make sure that there's light in this eye, right? But you see if I'm looking this way what I'm doing is I'm gonna be looking at the person they're I want the light on this side of me if I won't go over here, you see how much worse that isthe does everybody see that I don't see this? I'm not I'm looking away from the light and I don't see the light in my eyes so I'm gonna try this I just want oh, I wish I could see that monitor if I move really fast now I don't know I just don't know how much shadow is here maybe this is too much shadow for this interview in which case we would add another light here or we could also do this I'm trusting them to tell me if it's good or bad okay if it's if it's really bad I they know enough so I can I can bounce a little bit of light here if I think this is to shadow away ok a little bit a little bit there yeah ok does anyone want to put uh um we can just we can just wanted we just lean this on here we could normally we would put it on a c stand but this for now I think if we just lean this on here we might get away with it um there put it is there any tape here there this that yeah I just pull out a piece of tape there and let's just put this put this right here just put a little bit of tape right there roots right over in the top normally we would use a c stand but I don't want to take the time because it's really about the interview here okay, so we've decided that the lights here I'm gonna look here one of the things that we would do is also we want to make sure that you separate me from the background they don't really blend into it so what we could do is we could turn on that light over there you want to just turn on the green yeah and just just panic over here we can either light the background which separates may or we can light me a bald guy like me you're probably better off lightning lighting the background but you you make the choice either one way or the other so as long as you separate yourself from the background okay, so let's get a chair for whoever's going to interview me kayla no, I don't want to be said I want to be leading to the lift this side now I just wanted to sent it long enough to show you the difference there but now when you say like the background you mean unit on the wall off the background we're here like, light it from the back to you okay, well this would be back light if it were on may so this would be a set light or a background either way if you're hitting me which you're hitting me now you're going to see some shine on my head I don't know is it okay or is it okay? It's here I'm just saying right now saying we're not this isn't really about the lighting right now but it's ok? I'm just wondering so it's I can't really see it so I have to trust that it's uh that looks okay it's interesting what you notice you want a white palace why'd you flick the switch the white balance switch in the front and see which one of the three you like on this side remember on the side there it says w b one says p a and b uh I feel so happy when I see myself yeah this is kind of a nice look maybe I would let raise that light up a little bit so so it's just hitting a little bit on the top of my head a little bit more that like you've got eric if you loosen the stand down below I know we're not really doing let you just loosen that and then lifted up with the light keep going keep going keep going keep going keep going keep going keep going keep going keep going and then let go of that and then lock that there okay all right so you're gonna interview me um okay now just a couple of thoughts about where this camera goes and everything right now this height is pretty good if we were doing some people's noses you can see this can get kind of distracting if if the camera gets too low if you see the nostrils maybe raise it up a little bit I generally find that people look more dynamic if the camera is a little bit lower like this if it's if it's a if it's ah, I should say, a lady of a certain age or not even of a certain age, you might, it might. It might not be so attractive. I mean, making someone look attractive is often important, so you might want to raise it up a little bit. I don't know, I don't care what I look like, so I think it's. Fine. Um, so interview, how do you interview me? Uh, I don't know. I've never interviewed anyone before.

Class Description

It is common to "postpone" your filmmaking due to insecurity and doubt: Do I own the right camera? Do I have access to the proper resources? Can I support my vision with a strong artistic/technical point-of-view? Those fears are why so many film and media projects never get off the ground.

In The Lone Wolf Filmmaker with Bill Megalos, you’ll learn camera, sound, and storytelling techniques that will place you on a simple, yet sophisticated path towards completing a moving-media project. 

Bill will help you:

  • Choose the best camera for your project and budget
  • Use the camera on a technical level, with an artistic intent
  • Develop an aesthetic and technical approach to sound recording

The class will demystify the distance from the first step to the completion of a formidable, marketable piece of media. You’ll learn techniques that will simplify your process, no matter the scope of the project or your experience as a filmmaker.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Mulk Raj

This was excellent. I’ve been learning filmmaking up until now from watching YouTube videos and from my own practice which has been great. But I found these lessons to complement everything I knew and filled in much of where I was going wrong or wanted to know, and all in one convenient place. The course covering both the technical aspects as well as telling the story. There were lots of great techniques, tips and information from all aspects. Shooting mainly on the Sony Camcorders but I didn't consider this to be an issue, and the course also provided an excellent side by side comparison with the Digital SLRs. You can see from the lesson list that many topics are covered from the different types of lenses (one interesting question Bill asked was “what type of lens was that photograph taken with?” I had never thought you could discern this from the photo). Other great lessons was on sound tests, covering reflective sounds and comparisons with booms and lab mics and the ideal placement. The emphasis was always on telling the story and the reasons why you would choose one over the other. I learned a heck of a lot from the interview section. How to set-up, where to set-up an interview, looking at all the different aspects and backgrounds open to you from a location, how to conduct an interview, how to ask questions, lighting from the far side, the concept of slow disclosure, and the final hour being a fly-on-the wall on getting the shots was really interesting if you’ve never worked on a filmed set before. I personally thought this was an invaluable insight into filmmaking, well worth the investment. Great work.

jamie applegate

I have seen a couple other film courses on CreativeLive, but I think I have enjoyed this one the most. It was very informative, Bill's personality is great. I loved how hands on he really got with his student's including seeing them actual film. It had some good laughs. Well done!

Josh Moore

Great overview of capturing video from a one-man/small production team perspective. And great insight from an expert who's done it all. The Making One Location Look Like Many episode was fascinating to see how Bill spontaneously approaches creating shots in a location.