The interview test shoot

I first I did some research into how to light documentaries, in the aim to build on the knowledge I already had around this element of film making. We knew that lighting a subject to  broadcast standards would be more demanding and tricky then just applying a three point lighting set-up so I watched countless videos on how to set – up for an interview. Trying to find behind the scene footage of lighting set – ups for my favourite documentaries was proving to be difficult so alternatively I settled for more generic tutorials. Surprisingly they were quite insightful. One post I stumbled across was called ‘Two Interview Lighting Tutorials That’ll Kick Your Footage Up a Notch’ (No film school, E.M. Taboada, 2012). Where I learnt about lighting techniques which I never knew before. The second video explains a 6 stage lighten process which is different from the conventional 3 light set – up. Here is a list of the 6 stages.

  • The key light
  • The hair light
  • The three quarter back light
  • 3 lights in the background to light up the setting

This has helped me to understand the importance of spending a long amount time solely focusing on lighting. I also learnt that the closer you bring the light to the subject the darker the background becomes which raises the impact of proximity when dealing with lighting and the subject. The use of a defuser is very crucial also, this is a light cover which goes over a light source to spread the surface area of the beam in the aim to take the edge off it, which ultimately reduces the harsh shadows which could appear on the subjects face.

So after gaining all this theory I was keen to apply it to the practical element of film. Here is our attempt. Practice shoot.

As interviews are traditionally such a big part of documentaries the team and I wanted to try our hand at test shooting this aspect of our film. We experimented with cameras, angles, and different lighting set ups. The DOP for our project Omar Dick did the running commentary for the video explaining everything we did. Even though the location where we will hold the interviews will be completely different this was a good chance to practice and experiment with our ideas. We used both the Cannon C100, and the 5D MRK 2 for the shoot and a flurry of different lenses.

The practise shoot also gave us a good indication of how long it would take to set up on location, and also what sort of space we will need for the equipment arrangement. This vital information will come in handy when we decide what location to use, and working out time frames for the shooting schedule and the call sheet. I still have hopes of shooting at the family home, but from what I have been told it is not very big and this may make shooting difficult due to the amount of equipment we will have. The reason for wanting to shoot in the family home over a studio or a hall for example is because it is a more authentic and natural setting. I also feel like the family will perform better in their natural habitat. Either way we will have continue practising and researching different methods of filming interviews as this is such an integral part of our production.


 E.M Taboada. (2012). Two Interview Lighting Tutorials That’ll Kick Your Footage Up a Notch. Available: Last accessed 07.03.16.


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