It is essential that we conduct documentary interviews and observations professionally, ethically, morally, legally, and serendipitously.
All crew members must pay attention to the interview process. Interviewers should arrive on location at least 1.5 hours prior to shooting and use this time to set up, capture extra shots, plan questions, calm nerves, etc.
A ‘safety person’ should be keeping an eye on everything so as to avoid accidents.
Interviewees are more than just people answering questions. Subjects should be considered ‘participants’ instead because they have an active role in helping to shape what the documentary is about. In order for the participants to feel comfortable, giving them too much information rather than too little may be necessary.
Permissions must be granted by participants to use their answers (as well as people in the background), and by venue owners for locations filmed at.
The attitude one embraces to allow for ‘happy accidents’ to occur – or good fortune out of bad. Others call an event like this that is unplanned – but ultimately makes the entire interview process – the ‘privileged moment’. For example, a member of the crew apart from the interviewer should be allowed to ask the participant a question if the need for it arises as this spontaneity can spark a great answer from an interview.
One of the things that most resonated with me was that when interviewing you can say “pretend I’m not even here”. The interview process is not about the interviewer, but instead about the participant and their contribution to the documentary. Allowing the participant to pretend that your presence, and the entire crew and production gear you are associated with, is non-existent, may help them calm down and act more natural too, and this usually makes for a far smoother interview.