Shooting People – schools and businesses

On an ITV camera course I was on a couple of years ago the point was made that the most common shooting situation was the interview. So what are the skills?

Shooting people being interviewed is one of the most fundamental activities of TV production.  Of course shooting people doesn’t only require technical skills – soft skills are vital.  How do you get someone to feel comfortable? How do you ask the most important questions in the right way?  There are many other considerations like appropriate locations and potential legal problems.  The technical aspects of shooting interviews include lighting, sound, angles and composition; use of cutaways and cut-ins.  There’s a huge amount of skill and planning required to get even a simple interview to look good.

I’ve been doing some edits on a promotion for the dating site Christian Connection.  This involved me shooting interviews solo with my Canon 5DMk2 camera.  The challenge of shooting solo was that I had to really concentrate on all aspects both soft and hard.  I’ve been quite pleased with the results, but mostly the learning.

In the schools I have been working with, interviewing workshops have been great ways of introducing this range of skills to children – planning, speaking and listening, photography, vocal performance and a whole lot more.

Since the activity of shooting interviews is such a rewarding and fundamental activity I’ve decide to focus much more on this and I’m actively looking for opportunities to explore this in both the schools work and the commercial work.  

So this really is a pitch to any schools, businesses or production companies who would like me to shoot some interviews or facilitate interview workshops.

Here you can down load a PDF of a few prompts for the preparation of a filmed interview.



The producer – capturing the hearts and the imagination of the team

What is the role of a video producer  and how does that translate into a school project? What are the benefits of a video project in a school?

In the professional world (in which I've been there for 30 years) there are many different skills and resources that go into producing high quality video.  The reason TV is so expensive is mostly down to the availability of talent both in front of the camera and behind it.  There are performers, photographers, writers, editors and so on.  And it's not just the raw skill that's required but the ability of these people to get on with each other.

The producer has to bring all these people together and keep them functioning as a team with the creative elements being handled by the director. Although often the two roles are blurred or even the same person.

A producer will be required to understand enough about the process and skills required to be able to allocate tasks, encourage good practice, set standards, trouble shoot; They are talent scouts, facilitators, mentors; They manage and plan. They have a stern voice when the project goes off track.  A producer sets boundaries of responsibility and resolves conflict. When confidence breaks down the producer must raise spirits, be cheerleader and offer hope.

TV production teams are messy and uncomfortable places generally. The participants are vulnerable – it's as if their very soul is being put on the line. Then there is the added pressure of impending deadlines.  

In truth, the main source of pressure is the interdependency between team members.  No one person can achieve success on their own and yet they may all want to claim the success as our own. They may have difficulty trusting one another. So to be genuinely creative in this context requires great sacrifice and humility.

The dynamics of even the smallest video project can bring into play these elements.  

Many children have little or no experience of belonging to team like this. They miss out on some invaluable experiences: being needed for their particular talents, the experience of generosity and grace, responsibility with independence, the celebration of success.

As well as these essential team skills and experiences, there are also many other practical skills to be learned – writing, performing, technical work, photography, research, directing, drawing, design,, interviewing, planning, coming up with ideas.

Video production as a team exercise is indeed a great learning opportunity but only if someone takes on the role of producer.  Without someone acting as a producer in the way that I have described the results may be poor and the experiences negative.

A producer must ensure that the video production captures more than simply footage, it must capture the hearts and the imagination of everyone involved.