Many interviews, one location...what to do?
Posted 09 August 2010 - 09:13 PM
I'm shooting a documentary on ecology that's chiefly based on interviews. I have about 20-30 people to interview, mostly specialists and academics dealing with environmentalism, but budget won't allow me to travel. So I decided to go to a congress that will have everyone in the same place, and we arraged the interviews to be all held on a small auditorium there.
Although the subject is definitely interesting, problem is I'm afraid I'll only capture uninteresting images, due to the location being the same on all interviews. That means same backdrop, pretty much the same lighting on almost every shot of the movie... I know that the theme of the film alone should suffice to capture viewer attention, but in reality we know people will get bored if we don't make a little effort on providing at least a lil bit of eyecandy.
So, what kind of things can I do to make this interesting? First thing I thought was a chroma-key backdrop, but then I'd have to worry later about what to use to fill up the background.
Lighting tips? Simple art direction tricks?
I'd appreciate any kind of tip on this, even if you by any chance know of a documentary fillm that has a simple approach on interviews on a budget, that tip is very welcome!
Posted 09 August 2010 - 10:06 PM
How many lights "sets" can you build up in the location? I don't know how you're going to get 20-30 people in 1 day for an interview... that's about 30 minutes per interview which is quite a compromise. It was hard enough when I had to do 9 people on a chroma key in 1 day!
Posted 10 August 2010 - 03:31 AM
Posted 10 August 2010 - 09:31 AM
Posted 10 August 2010 - 08:46 PM
The way most documentaries are cut, you'll likely be happier having every interview against black or white instead of trying to shoot plates. This approach will give your entire project a greater sense of continuity as every "talking head" will have the same basic look. Naturally, your interviews will be broken up with B-roll so it's not like the audience will get bored.
For what it's worth, in my opinion, if you can't get ALL of your interviews in natural "real" locations, then you shouldn't get any of them (unless you can get greenscreen plates to cover those that aren't shot in real locations).
Also, work hard to have half of your interviewees looking left and half looking right. Take the extra effort to think ahead to editing so that if you have two people who will likely be cut "together," that they aren't looking in the same direction.
Merely changing lighting (on the backdrops) looks like you're just changing lighting and the audience will pick up on the "cheapness" of the production. By going with stark white or black (or some other consistent background), it will at least appear that your production is cohesive even if it isn't.
In other words, pick ONE style for your interviews and stick with it for every interview. Then, of course, cover with as much B-roll as you can to keep the audience interested.