My journey learning how to shoot a brand video interview effectively has been a long one, but it’s yielded some basic principles that I can share with true conviction.
Although I produce brand videos built on the values you’re about to read, the purpose of this document is not to sell you video production services. There are many amazingly talented video producers out there who will align fully with the information I’m about to share with you. My aim is simply to arm you with a way to recognize them. The more people understand what makes a truly excellent brand video, the better!
Side note: How do I know so much about all this? I own a video production company in Los Angeles that specializes in making authentic brand videos. Want to learn everything I know? Check out my course here.
1. Work without a script
Working without a script is essential for any interview-based brand video that seeks to establish a genuine emotional connection with its audience. Even though they’re more work to edit, videos based on unscripted interviews are far more likely to capture authentic moments that communicate the entrepreneur’s genuine passion to the audience.
Unscripted interviews, while more time-consuming in post-production, avoid the risk of coming across across stiff and uninspiring. At the same time, they save time in pre-production, since no script has to be written.
A good interviewer working with your production company (or a helpful friend if you’re doing it yourself) can get the best material just by sitting down with you and having a natural conversation while the cameras roll.
2. Make it about people
The absolute most important thing I can possibly tell you if you want to know how to shoot a brand video that’s actually good is MAKE IT ABOUT PEOPLE! I can’t emphasize this point enough.
If you’re considering a production company, watch the videos in their portfolio. Do they highlight human beings, who have desires and passions, or do they highlight products and services, which have no meaning on their own? Your products and services maybe endlessly fascinating to you, but your prospective clients are looking for you because they are totally uninterested in them.
The story of a company is really the story of a person or people, so if a brand video focuses on a human being’s passion and personality more than their products and services, it’s likely the production company understands this essential aspect of storytelling.
If you’re learning how to shoot a brand video yourself, build your story around a person or people. Talk about why you started the brand and what it means to you on a personal level. Nobody can’t connect with an authentic human story.
The most engaging films, books, TV shows, podcasts, and all other media products, including brand videos, are about people, not things. Embrace this simple truth and you’re already poised to stand out.
3. Transcribe your interviews
Transcribing interviews is a very effective way to make sure you don’t overlook any great material. This doesn’t mean publishing transcripts. Just generate a written version of your interviews so you can easily scan them for moments where you and your team are expressing yourselves in a compelling, emotionally subjective way and build the story from those moments.
Video editors working with transcripts don’t have to rely on memory or rudimentary methods of “setting aside” the material they want to use. I can tell you from my own editing experience that having transcripts available is the easiest way to avoid exhaustion and ensure the most compelling final result.
If you’re working with a production company, ask if they transcribe interviews. Their answer should be an emphatic “yes!”
Rev is a great service that will create accurate, human-generated transcripts for $1/minute. Speedscriber does machine-generated transcripts for $.50/minute and has a very useful workflow for video editors.
4. Use an interviewer you like
If you choose an interviewer with whom you feel comfortable, there’s a much better chance you’ll have those authentic, visceral moments that will make your story shine.
If you’re considering a production company, how were your first few conversations with them? Was there an ease to your discourse? Did you feel safe enough to open up about yourself and your business? Did you feel supported and validated?
Easy, comfortable conversations with the representatives from the production company are a good sign that you’ll have easy, comfortable conversations while you are filming your interviews. It’s incredibly important that when the cameras are rolling, you feel open, enthusiastic, and comfortable expressing your passions and desires.
Those expressions of passion and desire are the most powerful way to create an emotional connection with your audience, so the more an interviewer is able to create a comfortable space for them to happen, the better your brand video will be.
5. Use meaningful b-roll
Of course, interviews are not the only type of footage to consider while you learn how to shoot a brand video.
B-roll, in production lingo, is any footage that doesn’t show people talking. It can be used to add a dynamic feel and interesting visuals to an interview-based brand video. It can also be used to cover up “jump cuts” in the interview.
Just like a-roll (footage of a person or people talking), b-roll can be either help tell the story in a meaningful way, or be painfully boring. The most important thing to remember is that b-roll should serve your people-focused story, not distract from it or water it down.
Typical examples from the “painfully boring” category include:
- People doing mundane office tasks, like opening drawers, making copies, and talking to nobody in particular on the phone
- Generic stock footage of the city where the business is located
- Overuse of product shots. Tasteful use of product shots over interview audio can be a great way to send your “what” message without dedicating any time to it.
- Still photos (unless done with a real purpose)
Better b-roll ideas:
- People’s faces genuinely reacting to something meaningful happening
- The entrepreneur driving their car (shot from the inside). I love doing this, because people are genuinely contemplative when they’re driving.
- Real interactions between someone being interviewed and a client or colleague. You can stage these interactions, but let the conversations flow freely, and don’t use the audio.
- Visceral laughing
The best brand video producers know how to dive headfirst into a conversation about your business with no agenda beyond finding the root of your passion. They know that nobody can tell your story like you can, and see their mission as finding the most compelling way to deliver your passion to your audience.
Go make yours!