VJ interviewing tips

It’s not easy to prepare for and conduct a TV interview if you’re working alone as a “backpack journalist.”  Steve Mort should know. He reports, shoots and edits for Feature Story News, and says interviews are one of the most difficult things for solo journalists to do well.

On his blog, The One Man Band Reporter, Mort admits it’s hard to concentrate on what you should be asking while also worrying about your equipment. So he’s come up with a few strategies for doing the best possible job in the most common types of interview situations a VJ would face.

If you’re doing vox pops–interviewing people on the street–Mort advises using a tripod and a mic flag. “This enhances the perception that you are a legitimate news gatherer,” he says. “People are suspicious of anyone who stops them, let alone someone who is trying to point a camera at them.”

For a formal sit-down interview, Mort kills any overhead lights and sets up his own:

I always use two lights – an Omni and filter to light the interviewee, and a Lowell set low to the ground with an white umbrella to light the background. If your background is far away, you really need to light it unless it just looks dreadful.

To get a polished, professional look, Mort advises that you blur the background, if possible, by setting the camera for a shallow depth of field. 

Even if your subject is a few feet from you, always sit next to the camera so you can glance up from time-to-time to see that all is well with what you’re shooting. Make sure the camera is at the right height for the interviewee so you are not staring up their nose, or looking down on their bald spot.

One other point I heartily endorse: don’t use chairs that swivel or have wheels!


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