Tips & Tricks For Shooting An Interview as a One-Man Band

Shooting an interview as a one-man band is a common practice in the world of the independent filmmakers and documentarians. Being in this position on set, one is required to operate the camera, light the set, be a sound recordist, director and interviewer all-in-one. Very often, this turns to be a quite overwhelming task for many shooters.

Fortunately, there are plenty of handy techniques and practices that can be used in these type of situations that would help you to deal successfully with the technical challenges on set while managing to engage the subject of your story and conduct a great compelling interview at the same time.

The following video tutorial covers the essential aspects that everyone shooting this type of interviews should take into consideration.

Depending on whether you are left or right-handed, you should always sit on the opposite side of your camera. For instance, assuming that your are right-handed, it will be easier for you to operate the camera using your right hand while sitting on the left side, and vice verse. Furthermore, it’s important to sit as close as possible to the camera so that you can comfortably reach the lens to adjust the focus, aperture or zoom if necessary.

It is also a good practice to have an external monitor, so you can place it in an ideal position between you and the person that you are interviewing. This type of setup will allow you to keep an eye on the camera settings and framing, and simultaneously maintaining a direct eye contact with the interviewee which is essential from a psychological perspective in this type of shooting scenarios.  This is one of the commonly used techniques to make your interlocutor feel comfortable enough in front of the camera giving you an appealing and engaging story.

This is how a conventional setup should look like:



Also, it’s recommended to be in the same position and height as the person if front of you, to get a natural eye line in the frame, being slightly on the left or right of the camera. Sitting tightly in this position also redounds to achieve this effect. Always think of the camera as being your “third eye”.  The closer your head and eyes position is to the lens, the better and more natural your interviewee’s eye line will look.

At last but not least, try to have an informed conversation in advance with the person that you’re about to interview, if possible. Cover briefly the topic that you’re about to discuss, explain the details and answer all the questions that the subject might have for you before you start. To get a great and compelling story from your interviewee, it’s important to act in a calm and friendly manner, be patient and never forget to keep an eye on your camera settings at the same time.

[via Wolf Crow]

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  • Tony

    Your lighting diagram is wrong. The key should be on the same side of camera as the interviewer.

    • Vlady Radev

      This is just an example, we are not talking about lights in this post. Thanks anyway!

    • 4kshooters

      I disagree, the diagram is correct – it clearly shows both Key and interviewer on camera left so not sure what the problem is here?