After evaluating my first shoot, I took forward what I learnt from that to my latter participants to improve my shooting style and ensure my end product is more professional and well organised. As I was shooting in a very similar circumstance as I was prior, I was able to apply these lessons directly to improve myself and my product.
After having previous issues with insufficient planning in terms of doing formal test shoots, I made this an absolute priority. As I was shooting stuff that could not be reshot, I had to ensure that all my equipment was set up to a standard which would be acceptable and that I could be happy with. I did a couple of quick test shoots with the new participant and found slight concerns with the audio being too loud. Having this found out early on was a massive help as trying to recover distorted audio would have been a painstaking, almost impossible task to make it sound professional.
As I foresaw in my location recce form, the room had quite an echo to it as well as being quite offset in a strange colour. So, I planned prior to ensure I would be able to deal with this. I made sure I had two microphone options to allow for mistakes. Due to the echos, I brought along a directional mic to not pick up the echos and a clip on mic as a backup. The backup wasn’t needed as the first option came out clearly. However, it was good to have a backup and I felt prepared incase. However, I should have perhaps done a more thorough location visit and tested this beforehand so I didn’t need to bring additional unneeded equipment. In terms of the colouring, I spent extra time white balancing and ensuring that the subject was well lit. The use of the location recce form was invaluable to be throughout this process.
As I have met with these participants and kept close contact with them as we approached the shooting, I am always comfortable with them which leads to a very friendly and open environment in which we can discuss topics freely and get the most out of the shooting situation. A documentary interview tip is to keep the interviewee comfortable. (Desktopdocumentaties.com, 2016) This is something which I never faltered with and went out of my way to achieve.
I am happy with the fact that I wrote up a production schedule with lengthy topics on it and gave it to the participants early on as they were always prepared to answer them when it came to shooting. It is said that two of the key elements to documentary interviews is to “prepare and avoid yes or no answers.” (Desktopdocumentaties.com, 2016) So, by preparing the subjects and myself prior to the interview and giving meaty topics that we can dig our teeth into I could create an environment for the interview to thrive in. However, it’s also said that you should “prepare but be spontaneous“. Whilst I feel I did this by going off topic and leading the conversation down new paths when the opportunity presented itself, the interview could have perhaps been more spontaneous and genuine if the interviewee didn’t know the topics beforehand.
In an effort to be even more prepared, I tended to brief my subject on what questions I was going to be asking. In theory I thought this would help the subject feel calm and confident in what they have to say, which it did. However, like Raindance suggests in their documentary interview tips, you should “never do pre-interviews… your interviewee might tell you an incredible story off camera and when asked to repeat it might be unnatural and forced.” (Raindance, 2015) This is something I had to deal with as often they would try and answer the questions off camera as they would say what they would respond to the question to check its alright and then when on camera it didn’t appear natural. This is something I will improve in the future by not giving them the questions beforehand and to always be rolling when I am speaking about the subject matter so I don’t lose the perfect response.
Overall, I feel I have developed as a director, producer and professional since my first shoot and learnt a lot more in what it means to create a successful environment to thrive in. These latter shoots have been far more successful and has inspired me to be even better in future shoots and take forward what I have learned in a constructive manner to improve myself and my production.
Desktopdocumentaties.com. (2016) Top 10 Video Interviewing Tips For Documentary Filmmaking [online] available from <http://www.desktop-documentaries.com/interviewing-tips.html> [15 Apr 2016]
Raindance. (2015) 10 Tips For Shooting A Documentary Interview – Raindance [online] available from <http://www.raindance.org/10-tips-when-shooting-a-documentary-interview/> [15 Apr 2016]