Mirror, Mirror, Interviewer

We’ve recently worked on a series of videos that include interviews with some very talented people - not actors, not professionals, not teleprompter readers. They were outstanding physicians and nurses, and their amazing and very grateful patients. We had talking points; we hadquestions; but we really wanted their frank direct-to-camera words, prompted by an interviewer. Not journalistic videos per se - the “interviewer” is invisible, voice unheard.

So where does the talent look? At the interviewer or the camera? Typically the instruction is to look at the interviewer, and place him or her in close camera proximity. (Of course we use multiple cameras to get different perspectives, but there is one main camera).

The Ghost Interviewer - I’ve been in that role a lot. Where the talent looks is frequently a problem, frequently requiring retakes. The client looks at me, then looks at the camera. Or visa versa. Of course the questions and answers are so brilliant and compelling that viewers might not see a wandering eye! But we do. And you never want to make your talent look bad, or look insincere. There’s value to that direct eye contact that goes right to the viewer’s heart and mind. I was excited about a tool that Tim Llewellyn and his innovative crew were using during recent videos, a tool called EyeDirect, basically a two-way mirror that enables the talent to look directly at me, the interviewer, during a shoot AND directly at the camera. The tool is described succinctly on the EyeDirect website: “The EyeDirect is a photographic device that guarantees eye contact from any subject, regardless of age or mood. By employing two mirrors, a 'periscope' is created to draw the subject's attention to what is reflected behind camera. EyeDirect requires no electricity and is as simple as a child's toy.”

It is great for the process of interviewing, and great for the final video product. Our bright subjects are intrigued with the idea. It speeds the process up, and makes the result more compelling. So who is fairest of them all, mirror, mirror, interviewer? Well, unfortunately not the interviewer. And tools are just tools, but this tool, used well, can make any talent “the fairest” or at least give them the fairest shot at being their best.