How To Direct Winning Smartphone Interviews Like A TV Pro

Feb 17, 2023

Last week, we looked at kit and tips for setting up to shoot great smartphone interviews video content.

Read Part One – Kit here

This week, here are some easy-to-follow, insider TV tips on how to direct your interviewee and shoot winning smartphone interviews.

When you shoot smartphone interviews, there is always tons to remember:

  • The location
  • The sound
  • The lighting
  • The content

You end up being a…

✅ Producer

✅ Director

✅ Stylist

✅ Soundperson

✅ Camera operator

✅ Interviewer

Multitasking is full on!!

Direct the Interview

Do explain clearly to your interviewee what you want to include in your chat. Most people are nervous when they are talking on camera, so it’s your job to make them feel at ease and explain exactly what you want.

Remember, always overshoot an interview and give yourself as much choice of shots as you can.

Where to Look

Decide before you shoot where you want your interviewee to look.

Are you shooting a chat where they are looking at you and not down the camera?

Do you want them to look down the lens and deliver their content directly to the viewer?

Once you have framed up your interviewee with your smartphone at the right height, make sure the eyeline is correct.

  • Interviewee framed up camera left, then you stand to the right of the camera
  • Interviewee framed up camera right, then you stand to the left of the camera.

Remember to stand very close to your smartphone or their eyeline will be way off!

“Produce Up” Your Interviewee

Explain to your interviewee that they need to look at you and not the camera. Hold their gaze and smile and nod approvingly when they speak to help them relax.

Do remember to keep quiet. A great chat does not have you saying yes, uh huh or oh no over the top!

Make Your Interviewee Look Good

Be polite, but do point out any appearance problems if you spot them. Offer your interviewee a mirror, so they can do a quick camera check and tidy up any bits of messy hair or smudged lipstick.

Always carry a small mirror and some mattifying lotion on you so that you can ensure an interviewee looks matte and camera ready.

Be aware that layered necklaces and armfuls of bangles can make a rattle!

If an interviewee is standing, make sure they are not rocking back and forth, and if they’re sitting, make sure they aren’t tapping their foot.

Always be aware of this small stuff that can ruin an otherwise great chat.

Record a Winner

Record your interviewee saying their name, title, and ask how to spell any complicated ones. This can relax them and ensures you have their right info on camera.

You can also ask your interviewee to say their name, phone number and give verbal consent on camera to you using their chat.

Ask your interviewee to speak in punchy sentences – you are better off having a larger number of shorter points than fewer long answers.

Remember to get them to smile and to carry on looking at you for a few seconds when they finish their answers, or you won’t be able to edit the chat easily.

Also remind them that once you have asked your question, to just give it a beat before they answer. Your aim is to edit yourself out of the chat.

Above all, remember to smile smile smile at all times!

Happy shooting everyone!

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