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10 Tips to Get the Best From Your On-Camera Talent

Director John McGlothlin sets the tone

Some of CRM Studios’ award-winning directors shared their top ten tips on how to get the best performance and content from on-camera talent & interviewees under some of the most common video production settings.

10. Think like the talent. Consider what direction the actor or interviewee might need from you. Ask yourself what you might want to be told to be more effective.

9. Be empathetic. When talent sees that the director or interviewer is really listening to their interview answers or dialogue, they will be more apt to open up. Be receptive to questions and concerns.

8. Minimize distractions. Better acting and comfortable interviews come with fewer distractions on the set. Keep as many onlookers as possible out of your talent’s line-of-sight or out of the room completely. When kids are on camera, keep Mom out of sight while you’re rolling so you don’t get “Watch me I’m acting!” looks off camera.

7. Manage your time. Give on-camera talent

as much time as possible to review scripts and notes so they can get comfortable with their lines.  Do not do this for interviews, however, because you want interviewees to answer spontaneously on camera. Make sure they know which topics are being covered, but keep it general so they don’t start to edit themselves ahead of time.

6. Breathe. Spend a few minutes before any shoot to focus on being calm and relaxed.  Let the talent get warmed up and feeling comfortable in front of the lights, crew, cameras, equipment, etc. Work toward maintaining a calm, professional environment for all crew and cast.

5. Be specific. Try to avoid loose directions like “be happy,” or “be angry,” or “faster” — this may only generate a short facial response or confusion. It’s better to paint a picture, such as: “What was the best birthday present you ever received? Remember how you felt when you opened it?”

4. Focus on answers. Remember that in an interview, it’s not about asking fancy questions; it’s all about getting the best and most natural answers. Don’t waste time trying to impress interviewees with meticulously constructed questions. Spend time focusing on getting the best out of them and setting them up for success.

3. Be curious. Especially in interviews, be curious about what your subject is trying to tell you. Stay focused and listen intently. Observe their tone and ask follow-up questions. A sincere response creates positive results, especially on topics they are passionate about.  For actors, consider giving them an opportunity to do a take “for them.” You might be surprised at what they bring, and they will be encouraged to take risks.

2. Set the tone. On-camera talent will often reflect the mood, style and tone of their director. So, if you want them upbeat, you should be upbeat. If you’re looking for quiet, ask your questions quietly, in the tone you are looking for. Modeling helps you coax more of the tone and feeling you want from your actors and interviewees.

1. Stay positive! Always try to stay positive with your talent. Don’t lose your cool, even if it’s the 25th take. If an actor or interviewee begins to panic, the best advice would be to take a ten-minute break. Or consider doing another line or asking a different question, rather than trying to force the preferred delivery out of an actor under high stress. Follow-ups or reshoots will definitely be easier that way.

These are just a few ideas our team of directors have learned to focus on over the years. We hope they will make your production better and run smoother. CRM Studios has decades of experience with interviews and scenes, and we strive try to apply these guidelines faithfully as possible to get the best results.

Put our expertise and experience to work for your next project. Contact us today.

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