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Old February 16th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #1
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Conducting street interviews

I'm filming a documentary and part of the film is going around and interviewing random people off the street. Can anyone offer tips and information on the best and proper way to do this? Both from a legal standpoint, talking to people, as well as technically.

Right now my plan is to have an assistant with me that will run sound with an h4n and shotgun mic. We will go up to people, tell them what I'm doing, give them a video waiver to sign, point the camera and shotgun mic at them and start asking questions and recording. Bluntly stated.

Do I need specific paperwork for this other than a standard release form, do you recommend any methods making this go more smoothly? Thanks.
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Old February 19th, 2012, 11:08 AM   #2
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Re: Conducting street interviews

I don't know about how people react where you're located, but getting the interview going in the first place is the often biggest hurdle in these street interviews. You may find it easier to get the release form signed after the interview, rather than before, also the interviewee may be more spontaneous doing the interview first.
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Old February 19th, 2012, 11:42 AM   #3
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Re: Conducting street interviews

I've always obtained my consents on camera, then again mine have been for educational/documentary related filming which may be a different standard. For shots involving patients we must have several signed forms.

I am curious if there is need for signed form or can you use a recorded consent for commercial filming.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 10:41 AM   #4
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Re: Conducting street interviews

Broadcast channel I used to work for needs a signed contributor release form for each interview. As suggested, might be better to get them to sign after the interview, if they're of the voxpop variety.

Good luck.
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Old March 2nd, 2012, 07:29 AM   #5
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Re: Conducting street interviews

I agree that you'll probably have much more luck getting them to sign the waiver afterwards than beforehand.

As for the technical/workflow side of things, shoot handheld (with a shouldermount or other rig if required) as this will be much less intimidating for interviewees. If it's only for vox-pop style stuff then you shouldn't have any problems keeping a steady hand for 20 seconds at a time.

Use natural light and pay attention to it - ask them nicely if they can turn to face the sun, remove their sunglasses & hat, ect, to ensure you can see their face clearly.

Let the interviewer approach the subject and do all the talking rather than the camera operator (regardless of who is the director/has the higher ranking on the production). Again, it's much less intimidating for the subject. The cameraman should do his best to remain invisible and silent except for the reasons in the previous tip about positioning the subject.

If it's at all possible, have a good looking young female do the interviewing. You'll be surprised how agreeable people will become. Sexist though it may seem, it is a guaranteed way to get results.
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Old March 2nd, 2012, 08:57 AM   #6
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Re: Conducting street interviews

A marketing company that I work for insist that I get a release before we turn on the camera. They do not want to pay me to shoot interviews that can not be used. The policy is simple have them sign the form shoot the interview. If they will not sign move on to someone that will.

I was shooting interviews at a karate tournament for an energy drink company. I was interviewing a young man that was over 18, about the energy drink. It was a good interview he was very good on camera. When the interview was over my assistant was getting him to sign, when his mother walked up and insisted he be paid for his indorsement. He was a no name, first time competitor, his interview was not used in the commercial. What a waste of time.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 08:37 PM   #7
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Re: Conducting street interviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Wheelan View Post
I've always obtained my consents on camera, then again mine have been for educational/documentary related filming which may be a different standard.
What do you men on camera, what do they say?
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Old April 10th, 2012, 11:58 PM   #8
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Re: Conducting street interviews

A few additional tech suggestions. If you're having another person doing the interviewing, have them wear a white shirt and face them into the sun, with the interviewee being backlit. A white shirt acts like a bounce card and gives you a better exposure on the interviewee's face. Obviously, this isn't ideal if you want your interviewer to be on-camera as well. Make sure you have a good eyecup, as you'll also be facing into the sun.
Have your interviewer approach the person first, asking for verbal permission to conduct the interview. After it's taped, hand them a form for signature. If the person looks young, ask their age before proceeding.
If you're doing this over the course of a long day, a fluid-head monopod will be your best friend.
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Old April 15th, 2012, 11:35 PM   #9
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Re: Conducting street interviews

Good suggestions here. I'll also add: Have them spell their name on-camera/mic and print their name on the release form so you can match them up in post. Maybe even write a description of the person and what they are wearing on the release.

I never cease to be amazed at how willing people are to sign away all rights to their image for no compensation, but I'd agree that doing so after the interview is better all around because then they know what they are signing away.

Shotgun mics can be intimidating; consider handheld "reporter mics" like the EV50.
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