In part one of this master series, documentary director Marina Zenovich gives an overview of the principles of interviewing and how to approach the process.
- Interviewing is an art, and it is at the core of documentary filmmaking.
- You need to be fully engaged when conducting an interview.
- Use personal forms of communication to secure an interview, such as calling or meeting in person; email and texting are not sufficient.
- Prepare and be rigorous in your research, but try to keep the interview spontaneous and conversational.
- Treat the interview like a date; hearing the responses for the first time will keep the interview alive.
- Listening is your greatest asset; when people feel like they’re being heard, they’re more likely to disclose information.
- Interviews should be personal. Make the environment as intimate and safe as possible.
- If someone seems nervous, reflect their emotions back to them. Empathy goes a long way.
Marina Zenovich is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker whose films have been praised for their powerful storytelling and their thoughtful, sensitive approach to difficult subjects and controversial people.