So the production company is booked, the filming day is on your calendar. You know your subject inside out but you still can’t get over the feeling of dread about shoot day…
If you’re not comfortable being filmed, or it’s your first time in front of the camera, here are some tips on how to come across more professional than Sir Trevor McDonald and even more relaxed than Ant and Dec.
What to Wear
Occasionally, if the director is going for a certain aesthetic, you may be given guidance in advance on what to wear. If not, the general rule is put on what you would normally wear to work – preferably as wrinkle-free as possible! It may be worth taking a spare outfit on the day to prepare for any unfortunate events (coffee spills) or any unforeseen clashes of wardrobe and background.
It’s also worth avoiding wearing anything with prominent designer logos as this could complicate where your video can be featured and also pulls focus from your own brand. Another tip is not to go all Darth Vader by dressing all in black. Even George Clooney breaks up his mono-colour block with white shirts and salt-and-pepper hair. Sometimes.
Depending on how the crew will record your audio, it’s often useful to have a lapel that they will clip the radio mic to.
If any of your clothes are causing a problem the crew will point it out and make suggestions about how to get around the problem.
Hair and Make up
Don’t feel that you need to wear more or less make up than you would normally, or experiment with new colours – it’s important that you feel comfortable and ‘yourself’.
As all Hollywood starts know, the key to looking great on camera is all in the lighting and your crew will be on hand to arrange that for you. Good lighting can give you a sparkle in your eye, chisel your features and give you a nice even complexion. If you have a choice of shoot location, opt for somewhere with plenty of natural light, or at least a decent sized window, and the crew will add in extra lighting with their equipment.
The flip-side of this is that lights can be hot and the pressure of the interview can make you sweat. The most useful piece of make up is clear powder to take the shine from your forehead and chin. The crew will be able to provide this but feel free to take your own if you’d prefer or if you have sensitive skin. One of the director’s jobs is to look at the monitor and make sure you’re looking your best throughout the interview so don’t be offended if they point out that you are looking a bit shiny.
Glasses can be a challenge for even the best camera crew. Ideally if you can go without your glasses then do, but if this isn’t possible then your director and DOP will arrange the lighting to minimise the glints and reflections visible in your lenses. If you go on camera a lot, it may be worth investing in some reflection-free specs.
Whether you are sitting or standing for your interview you need to feel comfortable. If you are not feeling comfortable then speak up or it will show.
If you find yourself especially nervous or self-conscious, ask the director if you can sit in the spot and just casually chat for a few minutes until you are used to your surroundings and feeling at ease.
Fidgeting, chair-rocking, picking at your nails, wiggling your foot, twiddling your hair, wild gesticulations, crossing and uncrossing your legs repeatedly are all no nos. Not only will the sound be picked up by the microphone, your viewer will be distracted and you risk appearing less convincing and in command.
If you’re sitting, push your backside right to the back of the seat and lean back. Try to keep your shoulders back and relaxed and keep your chin up – this will help you speak clearly.
Before you start the director will tell you if his or her voice will be heard in the interview or cut out. Generally their voice will be cut and if this is the case you will need to use the question in your answer, for example:
Interviewer: What was successful about this project?
You: This project was particularly successful because of the great communication between teams.
Not: The great communication between teams.
Not: Oh, well – let’s see. Errrrrrm probably because of the teams, yeah the way the teams communicated was errr, pretty good I’d say.
The last response may feel the most natural to you, however, on film it comes across indecisive and uncertain. Take your time to think about your answer before you start speaking. It’s better to take a moment and give a concise, confident answer than to ramble on with lots of erms, and ahhs. Nobody has time to sit through a 2-hour epic so if you hear yourself ramble, tell the director that you’d like to collect your thoughts and answer the question again more succinctly.
Likewise short, robotic or monotone answers won’t engage your audience. Let your personality shine. Smile if you want to and talk to the interviewer as if they are a well-liked colleague.
Keep a glass of water nearby. The adrenalin, which is helping you to be alert and perform well, will also likely cause a dry mouth and as you speak you’ll sound ‘sticky’. Good crews should come with water so be sure to take a sip of water between questions.
If you find yourself doubting your answers feel free to ask the director, ‘was that OK?’ Any director worthy of their craft will direct you – as the job suggests.
This is your time in the spotlight and it should be an enjoyable experience. You are being interviewed because you are a great authority on your subject and you have earned your place in the hot seat!
If you’ve hired the right production company the camera crew will do their very best to put you at ease and get the best out of you. Remember they are there for you. No matter if there are three members of crew or fifteen, they are employed to make you look and sound good. They’re also great authorities on their craft – so you have a lot in common.