When we shoot a video we make it all look as easy as we can. No fuss about white balance, light values and the other technical issues.
Then comes the interview part of the program. We all know great interviewers. Remember when Katie Couric interviewed General Colin Powell off the cuff? It was brilliant. Her questions were a perfect balance of inquisitive, but not over direct. She asked what we would want to ask. There are many other examples that come to mind.
So, it looks easy. It seems, well, glamorous. As a result, we often get a request by a client to conduct the interview themselves in companies. “I know the people here.” is a common one. Sometimes it’s a concern that we don’t understand a client’s business well enough. On rare occasions it’s just a desire to be seen as running the show.
Well here’s the bad news. Directing and interviewing are actually complex tasks that require a great deal of skill and practice to do at a high level. In the same way that “He who represents himself has a fool for a client,” a client who wants to direct their own movie is making a choice that will probably not work out too well.
“He who represents himself has a fool for a client”
— Abraham Lincoln
Firstly, someone inside an organization is far too close to the issues to be able to see how others outside the company see them. If we can’t direct your movie then we have not understood either your message or your business and it will show. This is a great test for the effective transfer of information from you to us and subsequently to your target audience.
Secondly, there is a great deal going on during an interview. Speaking personally, I edit in my head as I hear the subject’s answers. I look for holes in the overall picture and fill them in as I go. Having done hundreds of interviews in the last year I have a feeling for how things are going to cut and I try and make the editor’s job as easy as I can.
People being interviewed have to be managed to a place that allows them to convey the right message. I always throw away the first couple of questions. They serve to let me see how the person talks, where they look when they are recalling something and how tightly they construct their answers. While all that is going on I am worrying about how they look, how they sound, has anything in the field of view changed, are there any new “noises” occurring, is there any danger to the crew or subject on the horizon. Not quite so easy looking now perhaps.
So, what role should the aspiring “director” take in the movie making process? Well here’s the good news. Being able to sit and really listen to the answers is an incredibly valuable role. Sometimes the subject gets the product name wrong or they miss a key message. I for one, always ask the company person in the room, if there is anything that they think we missed at the end of the interview. This really works as it provides an effective back stop that helps move the movie project forward toward success.
You could direct your video, but remember that lawyer quote.