How to Shoot and Edit a Group Interview

Chatham Hall wanted to do a group interview for an annual fund appeal and I was nervous. It's difficult to shape a message with a group of people: folks talk over one another, ideas flow back and forth, it's hard to hit key messaging points.

But we had the golden opportunity of alumnae back on campus for reunion and we wanted to hear their take on the power of their experience. We were also heading toward the end of the annual fund and we had a unique opportunity to tell a story that would (hopefully) resonate.

One solution would have been to set up the group and film the entire conversation with multiple cameras. I could cut this kind of video similar to a multi-cam shoot on a music video. But I was afraid the conversation would come off too informal or we might spend too much time coaching the participants.

Instead we came up with the following solution:

  • Let the alumnae have a conversation together at the outset to warm up. I filmed this conversation with one camera from multiple angles. Everybody relaxed and grew used to me wandering about with my camera.
  • Film each speaker separately while the others were in the room. This let everyone hear what the others were saying so we could easily identify key messages we were missing or so stories could feed off each other.
  • Target certain speakers for certain messages. Whether it was the fondest memory, the first gift, or the logistics of giving, we targeted certain speakers we felt would be best matched to those messages.
  • The project owner was in the room. Typically I work with a Director of Communication and show revisions to the Alumni Director after shooting is complete. But in this case we knew we wouldn't have the chance to re-film if we didn't get it right so we wanted the project owner in the room to make sure we hit the right messaging and emotional beats.
  • Film compelling b-roll of campus, current students and teachers.

In editing we were able to show the conversation but also craft the message with key lines from the interviews and delightful footage of the school.

What do you think? How do you handle group interviews on video? Let us know in the comments!