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Video Activist Handbook - Chapter 5

Walk the Talk - the single take interview template #


BUDDY UP! This template needs two people, a reporter and a camera operator.

You MUST plug in an external microphone to your mobile device or camera.  Find out how: (LINK)

TEST your microphone. Record some voice and tap the end of the mike with your fingers. When you play back through headphones, can you hear the tapping?

The Prep #

Find a quiet space.

Reporter: have a chat with the interviewee and find out the most interesting / funny / outrageous / tragic things they have to say. Don't stay on the surface of the subject - dig a little. Prepare your 3 questions to get the most interesting answers.

Don't do a "dry run" of the interview itself. If you do, the interviewee will go flat the second time when you actually record. Make this "pre-interview" appear like a normal chat. At the same time, make sure you get all the background information that you need, plus her name and her title, or how she likes to be described.

The camera operator should practise framing her shots during this, but don't make the  interviewee nervous!.

The Interview #

Reporter:Stand close to the interviewee and tell them to talk to you, NOT the camera. Remind them there is no editing, so you won't stop during the interview.

Camera operator:There are just 5 static shots. The interview is filmed in a single take, and you move smoothly and quickly between the 5 shots.

CLOSE-UP (CU) Reporter DIRECT TO CAMERA: Introduces where she is and who she is talking to

MID-SHOT (MS) Interviewee OVER THE SHOULDER of Reporter: As the interviewee is introduced, and later for variety

CU Interviewee: Answers questions

CU Reporter: Asks questions and does "noddies" (silently responds to the answers)

2-shot: Introduce this shot for variety

CU Piece-to-camera: Reporter signs off (same as shot 1)


1. Keep the shots changing. DON'T get stuck on the interviewee giving an answer. It will be boring! Instead, keep switching to the 2-shot, the mid-shot, and the "noddy" of the reporter.

2. Be quick but smooth when changing shots. Be very steady when you've arrived at the shot. A stabiliser is useful!

3. Try to sense the reporter's next question and be in position for her as she starts.

4. Don't forget the 2-shot!


1. Keep the interview short (3-5 minutes or less). It helps to ask only 3 questions.

2. Make sure you interrupt with another question if:

- the interviewee is going on too long. or the answer is dull or cautious.

- the answer is unclear. Clarify proper names and acronyms, and anything which would not be understood by the general viewer.

- the answer is controversial. Be a journalist, not just a publicist, and ask critical questions.

3. Prompt her to say the interesting things she told you in the pre-interview.

4. At the end, ask how viewers can get involved or get further information.

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