With Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and a host of other readily available web video chat applications, making a video interview with anyone anywhere with an internet connection is now easier than ever. While this capability can benefit any industry, organization, event, or campaign, I am going to use film festivals as an example for this post.
I love film festivals! Great movies, interesting people, opportunities to meet the filmmakers and experience new stories. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with festivals from all angles, as an organizer, filmmaker, and a movie-loving audience member. The most common questions I hear from each side are:
Festival: How can I increase public awareness of our festival and get more people to come out and watch our films?
Filmmaker: How can I tell more people about my film?
Audience: Which film should I see?
Using online video interviews with the filmmakers can help answer all of these very important questions. Here’s how:
- Increase awareness - using YouTube to host your interviews makes them easily shareable in online social networks and includes built-in engagement tools such as commenting and liking. Social sharing and recommendations can increase awareness of the films and your festival.
- Increase engagement - video is the same medium that the film festival is promoting and what the audience is paying to see. It is also the most consumed type of online media. As the medium of choice, video can increase the length of visits and interest in a film festival’s website.
- Make a connection - seeing and hearing the filmmaker talk about behind the scenes information such as the movie’s story, how it was made, the characters and actors, and its impact all help to create that necessary connection with the viewer to provide more incentive to see the film. Basically, I am more likely to buy something that I have a positive connection to, whether it be the product itself or the creator of the product.
- Answer decisive questions - a video interview should answer the questions I need answered in order for me to make the concrete decision to see a particular film. This will increase my connection to the film, the filmmaker, and the film festival. Sometimes the questions are as simple as: "What is the movie about?" and "What can I expect to see?" Movie trailers are excellent for answering these questions.
Here is an example of an interview with a documentary producer that I did the other day:
Boris Ivanov, the producer, was in Vancouver and I in Ottawa. We recorded the interview in about 20 minutes using Apple’s FaceTime and two video cameras, one recording each of us. After the interview, Boris sent me a compressed version of his recording using a download link and I then edited it together with my video footage.
Of course, our recording technique is but one of many options available. There are quite a few options to easily record Skype and other online video calls. Some inexpensive screen capture software may also work. You could also just ask each filmmaker to record him or herself answering a set of questions and then send the recording to you. We simply used what we had at our disposal, set up in the simplest configuration we could devise.
Before conducting any interviews, I suggest that film festival organizers first have the following in place:
- A video editing template that will be used to edit all interviews. This will make the editing more efficient and allow the festival to brand the interview videos.
- Have the questions written out and ready to go. The filmmakers should be sent a copy of the questions ahead of time so they can be well prepared. Remember, each question should answer what you think potential audience members want to know when deciding whether to see the film.
- Test your system and process for recording the interview. Having a preventable glitch happen during the interview just wastes time.
These preparation steps will make shooting and editing your interviews much less time consuming and more enjoyable. Post your interviews on the festival website well in advance of the festival's opening so that there is sufficient lead time to promote, watch, and share the videos.
One last thing, give the audience an idea of what to expect in the video interview. If the interview video is longer than 2 minutes, try to give the viewer a way to go directly to the part that interests them the most. For our interview, I used YouTube’s Annotation tool to make the left side navigation menu interactive.
If you are using video interviews for your organization, event, or campaign, I would love to hear about your experience!