Shooting a Video, Part 1: The Straight Interview

So you want to shoot an online video to tell your organization’s story. Among the many decisions you will have to make will be choosing a style. How will you feature your topic? Who will be onscreen or will it be free of live action? In this series I will show you several styles that have worked well for organizations so that you can find the most suitable given your topic and resources.

The Straight Interview
A popular style among organizations with limited financial resources is to tell their story straight to the camera in a single take. Even without hiring a film crew, although I do recommend securing a professional, you can create a decent video using this method. You should be aware however that there are several hazards to avoid.

Many organizations make the mistake of shooting a straight interview based solely on limited funds. You should only choose to shoot in this style if you have an engaging spokesperson. It doesn’t matter if your CEO or head of communications can tell a good joke. If they are not engaging on camera then they should not to be filmed.

Regardless of your video’s style you need a solid story. Nonprofits too frequently fall victim to believing that their mission is enough to motivate supporters. This rarely works if at all. You will need a gripping story that can be genuinely told if your video is going to be a success.

If you ever took a creative writing course you will remember your instructor telling you to “show don’t tell.” Someone who has experienced your mission should emotionally tell your featured monologue. If the subject is not engaged then the audience won’t be either.

Your setting is another way to show and not tell your story. Just because you are focused on a single person you should not ignore the scenery. There is a reason why many videos are shot on location. Pick a setting that brings life to the story. What props will add to the story and bring the viewer closer to the world you are trying to share.

You may be tempted to write a script. Don’t. Scripts make people nervous and unless he or she is a professional actor they are not likely able to memorize pages of lines. Instead review the topics that you want them to touch on and provide them with an outline if they need to organize their thoughts. Some people are natural storytellers such as the man in the example video below. Do a few takes off the cuff. You may be surprised with how engaging people are when they speak naturally.

Here is a video that takes all of these points into account. has a selection of interviews with homeless people. I encourage you to visit their site and watch more examples if you choose to shoot in this style.


One thought on “Shooting a Video, Part 1: The Straight Interview

  1. Pingback: Shooting a Video, Part 2: The Thank You « BrianAdamsPR

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