10 Tips Shooting a Documentary Interview

Raindance ran a great article recently detailing 10 tips when shooting a documentary interview. Check it out whether you’re a beginner or more advanced shooter, great tips!

These are meant as guidelines not rules. Everyone has their own interview style that works for them. But it is good to keep them in mind.

1. Be prepared, but adaptable

This is a point of contention among documentary filmmakers. Some filmmakers prepare a list of questions to give them direction. Others prefer to wing it, feeling limited by the rigidity of pre-set questions. However either way, it is important to have a general concept for your interview. This depends not only on the type of filmmaker you are but also on the tone of the documentary.

2. Avoid yes and no questions.

Ask questions that will open your subjects up and force them to elaborate.

For example rather than “Do you enjoy painting?” ask “What made you want to paint?” or “What first inspired you to pick up the paintbrush?” This invites your subject to tell a story rather than simply answer a question.

Some interviewers prefer to avoid questions all together and simply use statements such as “Tell me about your art…” or observations that keep the conversation rolling, “That must have been incredible to be part of…” It feels more natural than asking a series of questions, which can make an interviewee feel nervous and on the spot.

3. Do not do pre-interviews

Make sure you keep the questions you want to ask for when the camera is rolling. Otherwise your interviewee might tell you an incredible story off camera and when asked to repeat it might be unnatural and forced.

5. Try to avoid speaking or exclaiming out

This may seem obvious but it is a natural reaction to make noises when in a conversation especially when you are trying to make your subject forget it’s an interview. There is nothing more annoying than trying to edit out ‘um’ and ‘oh right’ over and over again. The footage is more stilted and ruins the flow. To make your subject feel comfortable communicate with a smile or a nod.

6. Be energetic, curious and animated

The interviewee will respond to your charisma and feed off of it. This will motivate them to continue with their story, knowing that they have a receptive audience.

7. Keep filming when the interview is over

Often you can get your best shots post-interview. The pressure is off and the conversation might continue with your interviewee more relaxed, that mights be when you get your best footage. If it was a really emotional and tense interview it is interesting to see the subject wind down and regain their normal composure.

8. Make sure there are no background noises

Less about the interview technique but just as important. Noises that your ears are able to block out will be picked up clearly on the microphone and can block out what he interviewee is saying or puncture a cathartic moment. The coffee machines and blenders in a cafe are not your friends, or the honking from nearby cars.

9. Embrace the pauses

Pauses are not necessarily awkward or unwelcome. Some of the most powerful interviews have long silences where interviewer, interviewee and audience reflect on what has just been said.

With a difficult subject, reluctant to share, it can act as a subtle power-play.

10. Follow your instinct

Each person is different. You may have to draw them out of their shell by being sharing some of your stories first. Or make sure they do not veer too far from the original theme/subject (although if you have the time, such tangents might bring up some gems). Also don’t shy away from tough questions. If the subject is reluctant to answer, don’t push it too hard. Maybe approach the question in a different way. It will seem less probing and more like a choice they made.

But all these rules can be broken to great effect as long as you are aware of them. Keep in mind the type of film you want to make. Some filmmakers may want to interact with their subjects, draw attention to the camera and to the documentary being made. Then the interviews tend to be more conversational. Others want to stay concealed, allowing the attention to focus entirely on their subject.

comments  Comments Off on 10 Tips Shooting a Documentary Interview

January 22, 2014 – Blizzard Warning

Hey guys,

Just wanted to wish all of you safe travels today if you are making it into work. All of our team at Matt Thompson Productions had a difficult time this morning with the sidewalks and snowy conditions, so just remember to be safe and take it slow.


comments  Comments Off on January 22, 2014 – Blizzard Warning

Halifax Music Video Production

We are proud to release the official video for the up and coming, very talented Halifax band, Young Wonderz. Check out “Gated Child” here, filmed around Halifax, Nova Scotia. We are your first stop for Halifax videography and Halifax music video production, get a free quote today!

GATED CHILD – YOUNG WONDERZ from Matt Thompson Productions on Vimeo.

comments  Comments Off on Halifax Music Video Production

New Brunswick Videography

Now offering our services throughout Atlantic Canada including New Brunswick! Matt Thompson Productions is your first stop for all New Brunswick Videography including Moncton Videography, Fredericton Videography, Saint Johns Videography and more throughout Atlantic Canada Video Production!

As story teller’s, we seek to find the human story in your message and deliver it in a uniquely creative way! Our New Brunswick video production focuses on offering an unparalleled cinematic experience in love story wedding videography, music videos, live events, presentations, sports events, real estate touring, short & feature films, & more!

Contact us today for a free quote!

comments  Comments Off on New Brunswick Videography

Halifax Videography – East Coast Lifestyle Promo

We recently had the opportunity to shoot a behind the scenes promotional with Urban Dolls modeling/design agency from Edmonton, AB for East Coast Lifestyle’s clothing lineup. Amazing time in the studio with all the models, photographers and make up artistry. Can’t say enough about these models, they were so professional and candid, was a great experience and we had a phenomenal time shooting! Taylor Northey was the lead photographer and we can’t say enough about her either, truly a creative professional in her element! East Coast Lifestyle provides exceptional apparel capturing the maritime experience, I’d highly recommend checking them out – great for summer, travel, sport or year round wear! You can check out their apparel here: Can’t wait for future modeling shoots here in Halifax, NS!

Models Teri Northey and Sarah Bee showcase East Coast Lifestyle apparel lineup with photography Taylor Northey. Shot on July 15, 2013 in Halifax, NS.

Urban Dolls – Promotional from Matt Thompson Productions on Vimeo.

Matt Thompson Productions provides creative cinematic promotional videos and films and we are your first stop for Halifax videography and Halifax video production! Contact us today for a free quote!

comments  Comments Off on Halifax Videography – East Coast Lifestyle Promo

Halifax Business Promotional Videos

Many businesses online web site’s contain little or no promotional video components, and in today’s market, due to the ease of video media distribution via social media most businesses are acquiring promotional videos for successful marketing/advertising either online or in the commercial ads. We feel a creative professional video with product & brand showcasing, testimonials and employee interviews really brings home the vision of your business and brand!

These videos are generally short video’s showcasing the very best your business has to offer, and tend have a reassuring and desirable effect on both customers and staff, letting them feel warm, secure and excited about the business choice they have made.

These are a sample collection of web/corporate promotional’s we filmed for the Halifax Consumer Choice Awards 2013: (Please Watch in HD for best quality)

Premiere Executive Suites –

Mattatall Signs –

Stuart & Davidson Orthodontics –

Office Interiors –

Currently, we are offering special summer introductory pricing for all Atlantic Canada businesses. If you would like a price quote, or more information please feel free to contact us!

We look forward to hearing from you!

comments  Comments Off on Halifax Business Promotional Videos

Need a lightweight, portable travel jib?

Aviator’s new Travel Jib is now in stores at B&H Photo Video, and looks like a solid and lightweight addition to the amateur or pro film maker’s equipment arsenal. B&H includes a review video which can be viewed here

We haven’t had a chance yet to test this jib yet, but it seems like the perfect addition to our equipment and we are looking into getting one soon. Here is some more information on the specs,

The Aviator Travel Jib is a lightweight jib that folds up to just 24″. The Aviator Travel Jib weighs under 4 lbs and can mount to a standard tripod and accept a head for mounting your DSLR camera or camcorder.

We’re not sure if it is compatible with a cinema/dslr rig yet such as the redrock micro rig(s), due to the added weight. But even still, this jib would seem to do a phenomenal job for weddings, music videos or even short film productions.

It’s not the size or expense of the equipment, but how you use it that determines it’s value!

comments  Comments Off on Need a lightweight, portable travel jib?

Summer Wedding Videography Discounts

From now until June 15, 2013 we will be offering a special $100.00 off discount on ALL of our 2013 cinematic wedding videography packages! What better summer gift than a full cinematic wedding videography booking for your special wedding day!

Reserve your date now to ensure booking as our wedding dates are filling up fast. Offer is only valid in the province of Nova Scotia and ends at 11:59pm on June 15, 2013. Some restrictions may apply.

comments  Comments Off on Summer Wedding Videography Discounts

Summer Music Video Discounts & Promotional!

From now until June 15, 2013 we will be offering a special limited time only Music Video Price of $999.99! What better way to start off your summer band promotions than a full cinematic viral music video!

Reserve your date now to ensure booking as this is a limited time offer and our dates are filling up fast.

Our Halifax Videography offer expires on June 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM and is only valid in the province of Nova Scotia. Some restrictions may apply. If you are looking for music videography outside of Nova Scotia, please contact us for more information!

comments  Comments Off on Summer Music Video Discounts & Promotional!

Halifax Commercial Videos

Looking for an innovative and high energy promotional to kick start your marketing to the next level? Do you have a new product you need showcased in a unique and creative way? Matt Thompson Productions offers all this and more in our creative cinematic commercial videography in Halifax, NS! Contact us today for a free quote or let’s schedule a meeting with the coffee on us!

comments  Comments Off on Halifax Commercial Videos
© Matt Thompson Productions 2011-2013