Stop figuring out your interview video in post!!

A better way to come up with your interview questions.

Wes Kennison

By Wes Kennison

3 min read
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You may or may not have played around with scripting an interview video yet, if that’s you, read on. FOR STARTERS, I’m not talking about getting your interview subjects to read your script on camera. My thoughts on how important it is to be authentic on camera are all about tone and I would never propose such a tone-killer as prompted sound bites.  
The “interview script” is your opportunity to put together your video edit on paper, in advance of the edit, when you still have a chance to shape it’s direction. All while fostering the very delicate, unwieldy, and ultimately high yield process (if you do it right) that is video interviewing.

This article will share some simple steps in scripting your edit in advance, while still leaving plenty of room for the magic that is a connected conversation.

Let’s start this off with a story about post-production. You’ve delivered a rough cut for your video interview project that you’re happy with, the story connects, the arc is wonderful, and all in all you think its a marvelous version of what’s there. The client feels differently. Quite differently. They ask for a call to go through the 3 pages of notes wherein you learn a TON of things and hear nuance that you absolutely NEEDED in that interview session. You’re not an incompetent interviewer for not drawing it out of your subjects, you just didn’t know what you didn’t know.
There are 2 types of people making interview driven video projects, those who have encountered the scenario described above, and those who haven’t, YET.
It’s inevitable. I could honestly write an entire article unpacking the various reasons WHY it happens, I’ll summarize by saying that it has a lot to do with the internal dynamics on the client side, which are 100% of the time out of your control. What you DO have control of is your ability to encourage some sharp review from your client of the TYPES of sound bites you HOPE to get by writing them down in advance, then taking that one step further by putting them in an order that you think makes sense.
 Without assigning what the video is about, some specific steps to get you started: 
  1. Outline your story arc,  just like you normally would if you were writing a script for a VO talent (or an essay, or a blog post, or ANYTHING that needs to be good), while imagining where your interview subjects MIGHT fit. You’ll be making those decisions in a later step.
  2. Take that outline and build out the sections as scene numbered story plot points.
    • Optional layering in of client feedback to this stage, honestly I’d wait, but it’s not a bad time if your gut tells you you’ve taken too many liberties.
    • Once you get that done, stand up and walk away. 
  3. When you get back to it, matchmake your interview subjects to your story plot points, based on what points they’re most connected to, and sharpen up the language around their angle on the story.
    • If you have interview subjects NOT connected to a story beat, this is where you tell client side stakeholders that Ronnie in legal, while enthusiastic about the interview, might not be a good fit for the arc you’re building. 
  4. NOW YOU’RE READY to write your interview questions.
  5. The final step is writing out some ideal responses, this is what you talk through with your client.
    • Don’t send them the doc. Ask for a 20 minute call to walk through the interview. Lead with the general premise of avoiding the scenario described at the top of the article, they will be immediately grateful.
There's a lot to be said for making little baby steps in being more prepared to get in tune with your interview video. If this all seems like a lot to do when you can just let the editor figure it out in post for you, I would simply point to the power of being intentional and crafted in your approach to creating value, it opens more doors than it closes, 100% of the time.

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