The nature of our non-broadcast work means we often film in locations that are not used to having filming done. The lighting, sound, and space have not been considered for camera work.
Now I think people listen to a video more than they watch them, so sound is very important. The biggest issue when filming an interview is noise interruption or annoying repetitive background sounds- the latter is often not noticed until halfway through filming and it can become an issue as you then have the dilemma of going back and reshooting the interview and losing your spontaneity.
So things to look and listen for before we sit the interview subject down are:
Background music– radio or if in a shop the music system. It’s difficult to edit footage if music is in the background as you edit the music too, and if it’s commercial tracks you may have copyright issues once a video is online.
YouTube may place adverts over your video at the choice of the music copyright holder. If someone has searched ‘Estate Agent’ on YouTube and has come across your video that way, guess what the adverts appearing over your video will be that is based on the searcher’s history? Yep- another Estate Agent. Most likely a rival company’s advert. Ouch.
Telephones- A ringing phone can put a halt to filming, so if possible switch it off or get someone to take the phone out of the room. It’s quite likely your interview subject will take the call as well which can affect them if you have done a great job of relaxing them into the interview.
People- We often try and get an interview done early on a shoot so we get the natural chat rather than asking them to repeat things they said whilst chatting. If it’s a business with customers coming in then we would try and get the interview done before they open, as they will always have to stop for customers and interview subjects can become very self-conscious if other people are standing watching and listening to them.
Annoying Noises- Fridges, photocopiers, coffee machines, smartphone ‘pings’, air conditioning, bells on shop doors, traffic, workers outside drilling, bin lorries… the list is endless, so you need to just listen to what may become a real distraction.
Most noises you can work around with background music added in the edit hiding it, but building work noise in a neighboring building is often impossible to carry on filming with, and requires a polite chat with builders and agreement on fixed 10-minute windows of no noise to get interviews done. A trip to the local coffee shop with some ’thank you brews’ for the builders may need to be thrown in as well.
Squeaky Chairs- Most interviews are done and sat down. Try sitting in the chair you plan to use for your subject and have a wiggle around in it. If it makes any noise then you need an alternative, especially if it spins easier than a fairground Walzer. People can get nervous at first and do something like tap their legs, and often particularly men I notice when they make a big point during an interview they often tap or even stamp hard with one foot on the floor for emphasis. No thank you!
Fiddling Subjects- Sometimes people feel more comfortable when being interviewed holding something. But pens in particular being clicked are a problem, and paper/script notes being rustled in their hands can be an issue too.
Background Images- Take a long good look through the viewfinder before your interview subject arrives. What is on the back wall, any clutter you should move? Is the camera or lights reflecting in anything? These things are something that can really start to annoy you a few minutes into an interview.
All of the above can apply to any filming- from big camera set ups to self-shot iPhone vlog posts. All eyes and ears should be on the person, talking and not distracted by anything else!