There’s a great true story out there. Documentary interviews can tell a beautiful tale, but they’re more than just a story. They need a level of emotion and humanity on the surface to make people care. Even the best video services won’t help turn an emotionless story into something captivating. Here are the best ways to get humanity and emotion out of your documentary interviews to avoid them falling flat.
Know the Concept and Work with It
A good video production company will tell you that the concept of the film is the most important part. Your interviewee isn’t the concept. This is the person telling the story. You need something that brings that story out and makes the person watching feel connected. This also makes the documentary feel authentic.
Think about the setting of the story and connect through that. If it’s a documentary about children, try getting the cameras down to their level to show what they see.
Knowing the concept is about framing the story. Know where the end will lead; know what the story is about. You’ll then bring the attention directly to it and lead your viewers through the journey.A
Ask the Right Questions
You’re not there to show off your knowledge. This is about telling the story of the person being interviewed. You need to allow them to tell the full story, which means you need to ask the right questions.
Draw in the viewer. Be genuinely interested in the whole concept and ask those leading questions to get the interviewee to delve deeper into the story. Sometimes it can get uncomfortable depending on the subject, so you’ll want to make sure you talk to the interviewee about how personal they’re willing to go. A small level of discomfort can be extremely good for documentary interviews as it invokes feelings from the people watching.
If you have multiple interviewees, make sure you know their part in the story. Are they there to tell the actual events? Do you need them to explain the technical elements? Maybe they’re there to characterize the person telling the story. Everyone will have different roles to play, just like characters in a movie or on the TV. Make sure you get their stories in order and get the right questions to frame those stories.
Listen and Build Upon the Story
While you will likely have questions planned out, don’t just run them one by one. Listen to what the interviewee has to say. This will allow you to build upon their story. You’ll delve deeper without realizing you’re doing it.
Of course, you also need to watch out for the runaway interviews. There are times the interviewee will lead you down the rabbit hole without meaning to. It’s up to you to bring it all back on point to help build on that original story.
With the right preparation and right video services, you’ll bring out the emotion and humanity in the story. You’ll soon have a documentary interview that is intriguing and connective for the audience.
Panoptica Films is an award-winning, full-service creative video production company specializing in commercial, branded, industrial, corporate, and original video content, located in New York City.