'Hooking Up' / Shooting

‘Hooking Up’ / Shooting

Some thoughts/challenges about shooting interviews for my documentary.

Interviewing technique. As someone who’s actually done quite a lot of interviews before, I didn’t question my technique as needing much work. I’m used to doing research, prepping questions, listening to my guest and responding to them. Interviewing for documentary is a whole new challenge. Not only am I operating on the assumption that myself as an interviewer won’t be present in the documentary, but I also want something very personal from my participants. This means that on top of listening and responding to my participant, I also need to be wary of how their answers will cut together without my questions. Furthermore, I need them to be extremely open and forthcoming about their experiences in sex and dating — certainly not something people are ordinarily open to discussing on a personal level. And not something that is easy to ask someone without giving them a lot of direction and prompting.

Framing and shot selection. The framing of the front-on MCU shot of my participant has been poorly chosen on both of my interviews so far. I also think I need to begin to make some decisions going forward about how I envision the interviews being cut together. I’ve had some ideas that have included not using interview footage at all, simply the audio alongside archival. Or also using mostly cutaway/abstract shots from the interview — the whole premise of using a second camera in my most recent setup. I think having a clearer picture of this might help aid my indecision towards camera choice and shot selection. Yet at the same time, I also feel it needs to remain open ended until I actually get down to the editing process.

Camera and lighting setup. Taking the time to play with all the settings and ensure I make the best choices on exposure, aperture, gain etc. Not taking this time on both interview shoots has lead to footage that I feel disappointed with. I also shot towards the end of the day as the sun was setting so the footage has dramatically different light from the start to the finish. This might mean taking the extra care to continually check the camera and stop the interview when it becomes too dark and reset. I think mostly I was too engulfed in the interviews that I became unaware of what the camera was doing. There is some pretty terrible loss of focus happening (or maybe it’s my dumb self knocking the tripod?) in the most recent interview — so disappointed as it was such a great interview on all other fronts.

Audio. Oddly the shotgun mic in my more recent interview is a lot crisper than the lapel. Having two options for audio is definitely a bonus though. Zero options from the first interview other than the cameras internal mic has lead to a reshoot so I think I’ve learned that lesson. Yet admittedly I knew it wasn’t working as I was shooting, just ran out of ideas on how to fix it — again, here two options would’ve saved me.

Mostly, I just think a lot of this stuff is learning to do a bunch of things all at once — which honestly, I’ll brag to anyone I’m really good at… but this is proving damn difficult. I think I’ve always had confidence issues in terms of directing or taking charge on a shoot — creative choices are not my strong suit. My instinct is always to work efficiently and professionally on shoots (particularly if you have a crew, actors and/or interview guests waiting on your every move) and so if I have to spend too long setting up or say trying to fix a lapel mic, it starts to give me anxiety. So too often I make choices because they’re easy, not because they’re right.

I need to learn to stop, breathe and take my time every now and then. I also am well aware that I strongly detest almost everything I shoot so maybe I need to learn to let that go.