Subject Interview Techniques for Biopic Films

When making a biography film, it can be challenging to choose the subjects that you would wish to include in the movie. The interviews that you conduct would have to be picked for the right subject to create the drama and essence to the storyline without dissolving the story that you are conveying. A biography or even a biopic will require that you line up the interviews and the subjects way ahead of time before you get into the shooting schedule. Getting people to provide and agree to the shooting schedules will require a lot of planning and executing, and for this reason, it is always advisable to shoot interviews at the first stage of the shooting process before shooting other elements of the film. Therefore four simple steps that would ensure you on the right path. They are:

  1. Understanding the Acting Subjects
  2. Understanding How You Should Frame the Subjects
  3. Shooting to Make the Subject Look Natural
  4. Directing the Subject

The Acting Subjects

Understand that unlike other film genres when shooting a biopic, you will have to deal with actual people who have no background in acting. They would be nervous to a degree or even more. Their involvement with the camera will be considerable because of their lack of acting skills. Be wary of their sentiments and make sure that you give them the enough of leeway to provide information that you require for your shots. Prepare yourself for at least half an hour of wasted footage where you will most likely be dealing with a sensitive subject who is a great character otherwise. It is also your job to make them feel as comfortable as you possibly can to give you the story you want. You can execute this effectively by explaining the shot to them and your role. Let them get a feel of what to expect when the shooting is in progress.

Framing Subjects

Having your subjects in-frame for the film is essential in any movie that is shot, irrespective of the genre. Use the three-point lighting technique for interviews to look classy. All lighting should also be set up before the subject arrives on the set for the shoot. This way, they get adjusted to the brightness and set from the start and warm up to the scene quicker. The sounds from microphones should also be tested before you have your subject in the frame. Mostly, the sound checks and mics should be set up along with the lighting at the start, and before the interviewee arrives. Frame your shots to give a close-up view or a mid-shot view of the person in front of the camera, for the right shooting techniques for a biopic. You can remove the questions that the interviewer asks and keep only the answers of the subject.

Subject on Point

For the added dramatic effect, you should consider getting the subject to look off the camera to the side. Many of the interviews are shot in the fashion where the subject does not look directly at the camera. This also makes it comfortable for the audience to continue to watch the interview. Unless they are talking to the audience directly, the subjects should never look at the camera. This gives the viewers the impression that they are having a conversation with someone on the side, and the audience gets a third perspective of the discussion.

Directing the Subject

Lastly, when you ask the subject a question for the interview, explain to the subject that they should consider repeating the question before they give you the answer. Instead of giving one-word answers, they would have to include the questions in the answers so that it would make sense when you do the editing later. Many subjects do not remember to follow this all the time. Therefore, you will be required to inform them of several times during the shoot.