Interviews: The New Writing


There was a time, not that long ago, when most corporate videos started with a script.  You know, paper with words, descriptions and flow?  A blueprint, a guide, a damned script!

Those days, sad to say, seem to be gone.  Sure, there are still lots of scripted pieces, but it seems the great preponderance of corporate work today is interview-based.

And that’s fine.  I love conducting interviews and I’ve often been told I do it very well.  But in my opinion, the pendulum has swung too far.  Not enough thought is given to approaches other than interview-based creations.  In fact, some clients now hear the word “video” and they immediately start compiling a list of interview subjects.

This is still, after all, a visual medium.  So the drill became “how can we make talking heads visually compelling, while still communicating key messages?”  Many of us started using multiple cameras, with off-axis angles.  We shot interviewee images off of monitors; we went hand-held, used loose-head tripod looks.  We used a dolly to create camera movement.  That’s all well and good, to a point.

But too many of us seem to have forgotten the interview itself.   How does one conduct a good interview?  What are its components?  Who should conduct the interview – does it matter?

The idea that it’s easy to do an interview and therefore almost anyone can do it is akin to expecting a room full of monkeys with keyboards to eventually re-create Shakespeare’s works.

There are a million ways to conduct an interview.  But there are very few ways to do it really well, where you capture not only the content but also the necessary bridges and transitions to help create a compelling story.

So my next few blog entries will be about exactly that: conducting effective interviews and then stitching them together into a story and not just a collection of comments.  My way is certainly not the only right way, but it does work and I would like to share some things I’ve learned over time.

So please stay tuned.  In the meantime, I’ve got a script to write.