1) The sixty second recce.
When you arrive at the location put your kit down then stop,look and listen. Shut your eyes and listen for background noise. Walk around – look at the location from a variety of angles and think about where best to set-up the camera and position the interviewee.
Go into different rooms and do the same thing. Rememeber you may not have the perfect location (when does that ever happen!) but you can minimise the problems.
2) Move furniture.
Position your interviewee to make the best of the location. Don’t just let them sit on the settee up against the wall. Try and get depth behind them to minimise any distractions. But remember that the back of the shot will be a very small part of the room. Ask them if they mind you moving furniture and ornaments. They are unlikely to object as this is TV! The famous 1950’s Hollywood photographer Arnold Newman, when complemented on his work, would say my job is 1% inspiration and 99% moving furniture.
3) Don’t put them on a swivel chair!
4) Use a check list.
Be methodical in going through the steps when setting up the camera. Once you have decided on the position for the camera use the check list-
Level – the tripod – with the camera at their head height.
White balance – paper in front of their face. Make sure you expose the paper before doing the white balance.
Focus – zoom into their eyes to focus.
Compose – frame the shot, remember looking room and head room.
Expose – with zebras at 70% you should see a tickle of them on the highlights of the face, if caucasian.
Sound – Clip the mic on them and do a sound check
5) The eyes have it.
Once the camera is set-up and you start the interview keep eye contact with the subject. If you lose that you lose the relationship. If you wish to shoot on two shot sizes start on an MCU (top of head to breast pocket) and then stop the interview to go into a CU for the more personal questions.
Keep learning and stay creative