The Art of Interviews

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Sometimes the jobs you get asked to do can turn out to be a little bit heartbreaking, but they are important stories to tell regardless. Recently we we were commissioned by Channel 5 to film a piece for a new charity telethon they were doing to raise money to help sick, injured or abused animals. We’re all animal lovers at Up Next with cats and dogs spread amongst us so we knew this would be an emotionally draining day.

Emily the producer for Channel 5 met us at our first location which we still have to keep secret due to the sensitive subject matter which involved us interviewing an undercover officer that works for the SSPCA. His department specialises in breaking up dog fighting rings and stopping puppy farmers, so his anonymity is key to ensure he can keep doing his job.

Due to this we had to make sure he was unidentifiable and after exploring a few options we decided on back-lighting him. There were two of us on this job, Graham was there as a camera operator and Murray, your plucky narrator, as camera assistant. Graham worked on setting the camera up, one of our in-house Sony FS7’s, and I began working on the lighting setup.

Our plan was to light the background and leave our contributor in darkness, thus allowing him to keep his anonymity but still be seen as a silhouette.

Studio Blog

It’s a technique that you’ll have seen done hundreds of times before but it is very effective as long as it’s done correctly. I started by setting up the biggest light we’d brought with us which is a LitePanel Astra and using that to fill the background with light.

After we’d done a bit of fine tuning and were happy, I started putting in place the smaller Lykos LED Panels we had to fill in a few dark spots and to give the interviewee a bit more definition.

Once Emily was happy with the setup we awaited the arrival of our undercover officer.

We can’t talk about that for obvious reasons, but he was a lovely guy who spoke very well and was able to convey not only the awful things he has seen but in an emotional way to get the viewer to really understand why their donations were needed.


Afterwards it was off to film a few cutaways at a dog re-homing centre which was unfortunately full of dogs looking for a new home.

A quick 30 minutes there and it was off to our next and final location of the day to interview an unsuspecting couple who had bought a puppy only to later discover that the seller was a puppy farmer.

On arrival the husband decided that he would rather not be interviewed and after chatting with Emily the woman of the house agreed that she was ok with that and would be comfortable to be interviewed on her own. This changed the audio requirements but we always bring a few options for every eventuality so we quickly decided that a wireless lav mic on her would be best.

A quick setup later and the interview was underway with Emily asking the questions. It’s a horrible thing to do in these situations but you have to ask hard questions and a lot of the time these end up with the interviewee struggling to contain their emotions.

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With the interview complete and a few GV’s grabbed that brought our filming day to a close.

It would be wrong to say that it was a good day as emotionally we were all drained, but it was definitely a rewarding day and if we can help contribute to raising money for a worthy cause then we’re more than happy to be involved.

 - M