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Old August 8th, 2016, 02:44 PM   #1
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How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

I am working on a project with a football player here at my university and I'm trying to build his story and I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on getting him to say what I want him to say?

I did some videos before semester ended in the spring and one of the videos I did was with a girl who was a senior. when I interviewed her (it was all off camera) she said something fantastic, but stumbled through it a bit. I had her come back into the office once the video was close to finalized and I asked if she could say that line again. When she said it, it was completely un-genuine. I tried over and over and I couldn't find the right combination of words to say to her to get her to say it naturally. I ended up not using that line in the video.

Back to the football player - This guy has a great story. He's the QB of the team, his dad was the starting QB of a big SEC school and all of his siblings are in college playing a sport. His family is very important to him and he wants to do something in life to be able to help people. He wants to go into Special Education. He's an amazing person and I want to be able to share that in my video.

He came in the other day for his interview but after going through the audio, I don't have a ton of usable stuff. I guess what I'm asking is, does anyone have any good suggestions on how to get people to either speak really genuinely while saying lines or ways to ask questions to get them to say what I want?
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Old August 8th, 2016, 03:04 PM   #2
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

My opinion is that this part of videography is more difficult than all the technical stuff put together. You can read volumes about whether to shoot in drop frame or non-drop, 24p or 29.97 or 60p, but "how do I get them to say what I want" is harder to research and harder to do.

I try and interview them somewhere comfortable to them. I try and have everything set up before they get there so they don't have to watch me set up lights. I try not to use makeup. As soon as they arrive, I chat with them non-stop. Don't give them a chance to get nervous. Always about non-interview stuff. My go-to is "what part of town do you live in" and "how was traffic getting in here today?" They are two questions everybody can answer, it always leads to a longer discussion about how they moved there, how they got to school/work today, where they parked, how much it costs to park... whatever. I usually drag this on for 5 minutes or so while I mic them up, flip the lights on, get rolling, sit down, etc. The beauty of this line of questioning is that no matter where you are in the story, you can always immediately segue to "so, how'd you end up coming here for school?", it seems like a part of the conversation you're already having, it's actually the first interview question, and they don't know the interview has started yet. I plow forward like this, going from the least important stuff to the most important stuff, so that by the time I get to the good stuff, we're on a roll.

If they won't get in the moment, I will call them out. "Hey, I heard you talking when you first walked in about how much you love special ed... but when I turned on the camera you got stiff. How can I help you get back that excitement?". That works about 75% of the time. If it doesn't, I use some distraction techniques (talk about other stuff for a bit, then try again), sometimes I spell it out and have them repeat it, and when they do, I'll make some wisecrack like "great! Now say it again like you mean it!". I try and be funny. I have shut off the camera and the lights and made everybody go away for a few minutes, then tried again. I'll just try anything until something works.

I try not to have anyone else in the room. I personally hate being on camera, and the only thing I like less than being on camera is being on camera while my wife, my boss, my kid, and some co-workers gawk on.
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Old August 8th, 2016, 03:08 PM   #3
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

What I do is to say to them that I would like to have a pre recording conversation with them, to get totally familiar with what their story is. I then just engage them in a relaxed interested conversation, to make them feel comfortable and relaxed before the pressure of recording. What I don't tell them is that the audio recorders and if needed, a camera, are already switched on. I then go through what they expect once I tell them that I am recording, sometimes there is good stuff still to be had, but usually the casual conversation is much better.

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Old August 8th, 2016, 07:44 PM   #4
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

We are attempting to do a live broadcast Bridal show over here and luckily have a lady presenter who is an ex National TV presenter and knows exactly when to chip in and what to say to get the nervous speaker's confidence back. Why not try a one on one conversation between the two of you with the camera shooting over you shoulder. That way you can prompt him in the right direction when he goes off track ..shouldn't be too tricky to edit your audio out? Having a TV host person keeping the talent "in line" makes a massive difference!!
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Old August 9th, 2016, 10:10 AM   #5
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

Very rarely will you find non-professional talent who are happy talking into camera.
I always get then to talk to me alongside camera, and I use the ploy: "Tell me about...etc"
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Old August 9th, 2016, 08:47 PM   #6
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

Tell me about...
What was it like to...
How do you feel about...
Can you describe what you did?
What do you go through in practice?
About XXX - how do you feel about it now? (I'm always fishing for some sort of summation of the subject's feelings to use as a closer)

There are classes! Mike Watson, above, mentioned that this is harder than camera settings & etc. Well, it is different; interviewing technique is more along the lines of journalism. Many have picked up some interviewing skills, especially those with broadcast experience, but, it's more than video production!
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Old August 10th, 2016, 04:33 AM   #7
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

Interview technique is a skill in itself and you have to steer them towards a subject without it appearing unnatural - otherwise it appears false. If sound bites are particularly important to you then ask them to answer questions as if they were doing a school comprehension. So "What are your thoughts on the weather?" would be answered "My thoughts on the weather are that it's a lovely day today." Lame example but you get what I'm saying.

Avoid closed questions that only require one word answers such as "Do you like the weather today?" or "Are you a fan of football?"

Hope that helps! I have a Masters degree in Journalism, so you can trust me :)
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Old August 10th, 2016, 04:37 AM   #8
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

Further to that, while I'm thinking about it...

Awkward silences are your friend! If you don't think you've heard enough just sit there smiling politely like you're waiting for them to continue. Many people find the silence awkward so will fill it by answering the question in more detail!

Also, don't talk over the subject as it will ruin your footage if you go "Yeah... ok... uh huh..." all the time.. Just nod, smile and use facial gestures. You can make them aware of this at the start of the interview so they don't think you're being weird by not saying anything. Don't tell them about the awkward silences trick though - that's one for you ;)
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Old August 10th, 2016, 08:28 AM   #9
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Buck View Post
Also, don't talk over the subject as it will ruin your footage if you go "Yeah... ok... uh huh..." all the time.. Just nod, smile and use facial gestures.
You'd be surprised how often I have to tell interviewers not to do that.
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Old August 10th, 2016, 09:00 AM   #10
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Huff View Post
You'd be surprised how often I have to tell interviewers not to do that.
I don't think I would be haha!
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Old August 10th, 2016, 05:03 PM   #11
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Re: How to Get Talent to Say What I Want

Mike Watson is dead on the money....

Never give them "lines". Key word notes for you are OK but scripts with lines will never work in an amateur interview.

If necessary I will be point blank honest sometimes and ask them to be themselves and not "act". It is amazing how often some peoples whole persona changes the minute a camera goes on and they think they have to become an actor.

Smiling and humor are your friend. They are contagious.

Always have plenty of cold bottled water for them.

When ever possible shoot cut a way material for post. They may get the audio right once but not the visual, cover it in post.

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