When clients ask us to make corporate films, the talent doesn’t always have experience being in front of a camera. It can cause some hesitation, especially if the person is camera-shy. However, appearing in a brand video might be inevitable. If you’re in a situation where you need to participate in an on-camera interview, here are our top tips:
On-Camera Interview Tips:
- Don’t memorize a script
- Relax and be comfortable – make casual conversation if needed
- Speak about a subject you’re passionate about
- Take cues and follow guidance from the director
To demonstrate these tips, here are two stories from our client’s first experiences of being on-camera.
Overcoming On-Camera Interview Nerves
A few years ago we did an interview for a non-profit client. The person we were planning to interview was extremely nervous but was an essential part of the story. She arrived on set with her questions pre-scripted. The director felt the lines were great but the memorization was stopping her from sounding natural. The director suggested having her respond to questions he would ask instead.
The interviewee protested and compromised by reading the scripted lines first, then she would try answering the questions naturally. The director agreed to only use the best content. However, the interviewee was convinced everything would be a mess if it wasn’t scripted.
She started to go through the scripted lines but it was clear that she was working from memory, as opposed to speaking in the moment. The director moved onto asking questions. She struggled with the delivery and was having trouble finishing sentences.
The director decided to use a different technique. Instead of focusing on the content, he turned it into a conversion. He asked “What did you eat for breakfast this morning?” and “How are your kids? Once asked about her kids, the interviewee became incredibly passionate and talkative. Subtly, the director pivoted the conversation to the non-profit. The interviewee had plenty to say about the impact of the non-profit.
The whole process was incredibly rewarding. The client was happy with the content and the interviewee’s on-camera talent was recognized without following a script.
Another example was when we worked with Friendship Circle, a non-profit focused on inclusivity and fostering friendships between neurotypical teens with children, teens, and young adults with special needs. We have been producing content for this incredible organization for almost a decade.
We had the opportunity to tell the story of an organization member with special needs’ passion for photography. It was for the gala theme “Magic That’s Uniquely You” so we wanted to focus on how he discovered photography and how it helped him come out of his shell.
He walked into the interview and was very enthralled with all the equipment. We casually asked him if he wanted to sit down and answer a few questions about photography. He enthusiastically answered and walked us through some of the photographs he had taken.
After the interview, his parents walked into the room. The father sarcastically asked how the interview went, because their son typically loses interest quickly and tends to not sit still. We told them that the interview went really well. His parents were taken aback by the fact that their son voluntarily answered our questions and had done so well for his first on-camera interview.
This was an amazing moment for us. Why did it work out that way? Did he just want to sit on a set and talk about our gear? Was it because we went into the situation not knowing what to expect and let everything happen in the moment? Most importantly, we started with something he was passionate about and worked from there.
Find What Works For You
Becoming comfortable on camera can take time and practice. Given the right environment, tools, support, guidance, or being hands off, we truly believe there is a situation where anybody can be ready to feel comfortable during an on-camera interview.