The longer I do the video thing, the more I appreciate a shooter who can get a great interview out of an every-day person; the type of subject who isn’t a media-savvy professional used to being on camera and giving soundbites. Although he is known for so many other visual things in the world of DSLR videography, Philip Bloom seems to be able to get great interviews out of ordinary people, which is just one of the many reasons I admire him.
Half the time, I don’t know what Bloom is talking about when he’s comparing the finer points of “luts” and dynamic range in his camera reviews, but damn, that man can get ordinary people to bare their souls in a most eloquent way in his short mini-documentaries.
As a one-man-band in a hurry, I don’t have the luxury of multiple sessions with subjects. Half the time, I’m lucky enough that they will actually sit down and speak to me, or to my fixer if it’s in a foreign language.
In the above video, about the French cowboys called “gardians” I was three minutes into an audio-only interview when my subject was pulled away because one of his cowboys was injured by a bull. It all turned out okay, but when it happened, my subject bolted and I was stuck with what I had.
It’s probably a sign of my inexperience, but the best interviews I get from “regular” people are just audio-only interviews. I find people are much less inhibited when we’re sitting at a table with a microphone and an audio recorder, than when they have lights, two cameras, and a big boom pole over their head. And I’m a much better interviewer when I’m not checking composition and audio levels on two different cameras.
And the question I’m asking myself is: do we need to see the talking head to make our movies? Or can we just show a video headshot of the speaker and use mostly B-roll? I’m leaning towards the latter, because I’d rather have a compelling story than a nice-looking headshot. Ideally, I’ll learn to get both, but in the meantime, give me a strong audio only interview over a nervous talking head any day.!