Interviewing a non-actor

My Mom, @MarketSleddogg, received a Woman in Business award from the Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) this year -- a huge honor. She was nominated for her leadership and financial achievements with the non-profit the Business & Professional Women Club of Raleigh, NC (BPW) and won! BPW is a volunteer-only organization; the oldest organization in the U.S. that advocates for working women.

My Mom accepting the award at the Triangle Business Journal Women in Business Awards in August.

The Video

The TBJ asked the winners to sit down for a 20 minute interview that would then be cut down to 30 seconds for the award ceremony in August (it was held this past Thursday). Being a film student, I went with my mom to the taping. I, of course, analyzed everything they did...that's what film students do...and noticed a lot of things I wish they had done differently. TBJ actually had a great visual set up. Nice background.

Unfortunately, it was not a very welcoming environment to the new "on camera talent"-- my Mom.

Here's my POV during the interview.

For starters, the chair provided no back support, so she had to lean forward. What's wrong with leaning forward? It doesn't look very natural on camera.

So the chair is already working against this new on-camera talent, but what frustrates me the most was how they eased her into the "interviewing process." I know from experience that it takes a few minutes to get someone comfortable in front of a camera. I usually ask very simple questions first to get them used to me and acquainted with the camera that is now in their face. But TBJ did not do that. They asked her tough questions right away!

Here's the portion of the interview they used: Click Here. ...Did you watch it?? This is the very beginning of the 20 minute interview she gave them (They only used, what, 20 seconds?).

Imagine sitting down and immediately someone asks you, "So tell me, if someone says to you 'No, it can't be done,' how do you respond?" I mean...that's a total conversation starter right there! I'm going to go to a party and ask that every time someone walks in the door...

I really feel that TBJ did my mother, and themselves, a disservice.

Being in front of a camera can be nerve racking

Most people are nervous to be in front of a camera, so it's very important that they realize it's just a conversation between two people. You and me. That's it. Pretend there's no camera, no crew. Just us.

I like to ask people what they had for breakfast. This throws them for a loop and they tend to laugh. Laughing is the best way to get someone comfortable!

So I ask "What did you have for breakfast?"

Answer: "Cereal..."

Oh no, my new friend, I need more details.

"What kind of cereal?" / "What did the bowl look like?" / "Did you eat at a table?" / "Did you read your email while you ate?"

(This is also a good technique for directing that I learned from my mentor, Joan Darling. It helps an actor truly visualize their space.)

Back to the TBJ interview

As the interview went on, my mom loosened up and started joking around, smiling, and was way more animated. She was now more comfortable and less nervous.

THIS is what makes a video great!

An audience wants to relate to the person on screen, and what better way to do this than to see them having a good time! This is where TBJ did themselves a disservice. Their video of the winners could have been much more enjoyable if they chose to show their winners' true fun personalities. Instead, they picked the first 2 questions where the winner was not comfortable in their environment. It's too bad.

Yes, it is my Mom

I'll be the first to admit that I'm incredibly protective of my mother. I LOVE this video of her, but I know it could have been better. I know that TBJ had the footage and opportunity to make it better...and that is what makes me so frustrated!

Did they not have the money? Time? Skills? Who knows...

But...seriously...look at the other videos of the other winners, and tell me that chair does not look like the most uncomfortable thing in the world!

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