Capturing Authenticity in Interview Subjects

Filming real people is an art form in itself. It requires a delicate balance of capturing their true essence while also creating a comfortable environment for them to open up. In this article, we will explore the techniques that filmmakers use to draw out genuine emotion and authenticity from their interview subjects. We will also dive into how popular projects, such as “Humans of New York,” have successfully captured authenticity through intimate interviews.

Creating an environment that helps subjects feel comfortable

When it comes to interviewing real people, it’s crucial to create an environment where they feel comfortable being themselves. A relaxed subject is more likely to open up and share their true thoughts and emotions. Here are some techniques to achieve this:

One important factor in creating a comfortable environment for your interview subjects is choosing the right location. By selecting a venue that is familiar to the subject or one that matches their personality, you can help them feel more at ease and natural during the interview. Imagine interviewing a musician in their own studio or a chef in their own kitchen – the familiar surroundings can create a sense of comfort and ease that allows them to relax and be themselves.

Building rapport with your subject is another key element in creating a comfortable environment. Taking the time to get to know them before the interview can make a significant difference. Engage in casual conversation, ask about their interests, and make them feel heard and understood. This establishes a connection and builds trust, making the subject more likely to open up during the interview.

In addition to the location and rapport, it’s also important to consider the camera setup. The choice of camera equipment can impact the atmosphere of the interview. Using a smaller and less intimidating camera setup can help create a more relaxed and intimate environment. Handheld or shoulder-mounted cameras, for example, offer greater flexibility and mobility, allowing you to move around more freely and capture candid moments without overwhelming the subject.

By implementing these techniques and creating a comfortable environment, you lay the foundation for capturing authenticity in your interviews. Remember, the goal is to make your subject forget about the camera and be their genuine self. When subjects feel comfortable and at ease, they are more likely to share their true thoughts, emotions, and experiences, resulting in more meaningful and impactful interviews.

Techniques to draw out genuine emotion and authenticity

Now that you’ve created the perfect environment, it’s time to draw out genuine emotion and authenticity from your interview subjects. Here are some tried and true techniques:

     1. Active listening: Give your subjects your undivided attention. Make eye contact, nod, and respond empathically. This will make them feel validated and encourage them to open up.

     Active listening is a powerful tool that goes beyond just hearing what someone is saying. It involves fully engaging with the person, both verbally and non-verbally. By actively listening to your interview subjects, you are showing them that you value their perspective and are genuinely interested in what they have to say. This level of attentiveness creates a safe and welcoming space for them to express their thoughts and feelings.

     2. Avoid scripted questions: Instead of rigidly sticking to a list of pre-planned questions, allow the conversation to flow naturally. This will enable you to capture unplanned moments of authenticity.

     Scripted questions can often lead to predictable and rehearsed answers. To truly draw out genuine emotion and authenticity, it is important to let go of the script and embrace spontaneity. By allowing the conversation to flow naturally, you open up the possibility of unexpected and heartfelt responses. These unscripted moments can provide a deeper insight into the interviewee’s true thoughts and emotions, creating a more authentic and captivating interview.

     3. Ask open-ended questions: Encourage your subjects to share their stories and experiences by asking questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. This will allow for deeper and more meaningful responses.

     Open-ended questions are a powerful tool for eliciting genuine emotion and authenticity. By asking questions that require more than a simple answer, you invite your interview subjects to delve deeper into their thoughts and experiences. This encourages them to reflect and share personal stories, resulting in more meaningful and heartfelt responses. Open-ended questions create a space for your subjects to express themselves fully, allowing their true emotions to shine through.

When you implement these techniques, you create an environment that fosters genuine connection and honesty. Your subjects will feel more comfortable expressing their true selves, resulting in captivating interviews that resonate with your audience.

Creating an environment that encourages genuine emotion and authenticity is crucial in capturing interviews that truly resonate with your audience. By actively listening, avoiding scripted questions, and asking open-ended questions, you create a space where your interview subjects feel valued and safe to share their stories and experiences. This level of authenticity not only adds depth to your interviews but also allows your audience to connect with the emotions and experiences being shared. So, go ahead and implement these techniques to create captivating interviews that leave a lasting impact.

Example: “Humans of New York” captures authenticity through intimate interviews

No discussion about capturing authenticity in interviews would be complete without mentioning “Humans of New York.” This popular documentary and social media project, created by Brandon Stanton, is known for its raw and authentic portrayals of everyday people in New York City.

Stanton’s approach is simple yet powerful. He uses the streets of New York as his canvas and engages in intimate conversations with strangers. By immersing himself in their world and showing genuine curiosity, Stanton has been able to capture remarkable stories and emotions that resonate with millions of people worldwide.

This example shows us that by creating a genuine connection with our subjects and being genuinely interested in their stories, we can capture authenticity that truly touches people’s hearts.

One of the reasons why “Humans of New York” has been so successful in capturing authenticity is the time and effort Stanton puts into each interview. He doesn’t rush through conversations or simply ask surface-level questions. Instead, he takes the time to truly listen and understand the person in front of him.

Stanton’s ability to create a safe and comfortable environment for his subjects is another crucial aspect of his approach. Many people who have been interviewed by him have mentioned feeling at ease and open during their conversations. This level of comfort allows them to share their stories more honestly and authentically.

Furthermore, “Humans of New York” showcases the diversity and complexity of New York City. By featuring individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life, the project highlights the rich tapestry of humanity that exists within the city’s bustling streets. This diversity adds depth and authenticity to the stories being told.

Another noteworthy aspect of “Humans of New York” is the power of visual storytelling. Stanton’s skillful use of photography adds a layer of depth to the interviews, allowing viewers to not only read the stories but also see the emotions and expressions of the subjects. This visual element enhances the authenticity and impact of the project.

Moreover, “Humans of New York” has become more than just a documentary project. It has evolved into a global community where people from all over the world connect, empathize, and share their own stories. The project’s social media presence has created a platform for individuals to find solace, inspiration, and a sense of belonging. This sense of community further reinforces the authenticity and impact of the project.

In conclusion, “Humans of New York” has revolutionized the way we capture authenticity in interviews. Through his genuine curiosity, empathetic approach, and skillful storytelling, Brandon Stanton has created a project that not only captures the essence of everyday people but also touches the hearts of millions. It serves as a powerful reminder that by connecting with our subjects on a human level and truly valuing their stories, we can create authentic and impactful interviews that resonate with audiences worldwide.

Tip: Try to create real conversations as opposed to making your interview feel like a performance

One common mistake filmmakers make when interviewing real people is treating the interview as a performance. This can create a barrier between the subject and the camera, inhibiting the natural flow of conversation and authenticity.

When conducting an interview, it is important to remember that you are not simply capturing a scripted performance. Your goal is to delve into the depths of your subject’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. To achieve this, it is crucial to create an environment that encourages genuine conversation.

Instead of rigidly sticking to a list of prepared questions, let the interview evolve naturally, just as it would in a casual setting. Be present and engaged, actively listening to your subject’s responses and allowing the conversation to take unexpected turns. This flexibility will enable you to capture authentic moments and emotions that may not have surfaced otherwise.

Another key aspect of creating real conversations is to establish a sense of trust and comfort with your subjects. Building rapport with them before the interview can help put them at ease and encourage them to open up. Take the time to have a casual conversation, ask about their interests and experiences, and show genuine interest in their lives. This will create a foundation of trust that will make the interview feel more like a conversation between friends.

To further enhance the authenticity of your interviews, respond authentically to your subject’s answers. Avoid simply moving on to the next question without acknowledging their response. Instead, take the time to reflect on what they have shared and respond in a way that shows empathy and understanding. This will create a deeper connection between you and your subject, fostering a more meaningful and impactful interview.

In conclusion, capturing authenticity in interview subjects is an art that requires careful consideration. By creating a comfortable environment, using techniques to draw out genuine emotion, and fostering real conversations, filmmakers can create powerful and authentic interviews. Take inspiration from projects like “Humans of New York” and remember, the key is to create a space where your subjects feel comfortable being themselves. So go out there, break down barriers, and bring genuine authenticity to the screen!

Remember, the beauty of a real conversation lies in its unpredictability. Embrace the unexpected, be open to new perspectives, and allow your subjects to guide the conversation. By doing so, you will not only capture authentic moments but also create a richer and more engaging experience for your audience.

Furthermore, it is essential to create an atmosphere of mutual respect during the interview. Treat your subjects as equal partners in the conversation, valuing their insights and perspectives. This will foster a sense of collaboration and create a space where genuine exchanges can occur.

Additionally, consider the power of silence in your interviews. Sometimes, the most profound moments arise when your subject takes a moment to collect their thoughts or reflect on a particular question. Embrace these pauses, allowing them to breathe and giving your subject the space to express themselves fully.

Lastly, when editing the interview footage, prioritize authenticity over perfection. Embrace the imperfections, the stutters, and the pauses, as they are part of what makes a conversation real. By retaining these genuine moments, you will create a more relatable and authentic portrayal of your subject.



Documentary Ethics: Balancing Objectivity and Advocacy

Documentary Ethics: Balancing Objectivity and Advocacy

In the world of documentary filmmaking, ethics play a vital role in shaping the final product. Filmmakers who feature real people in their films often find themselves grappling with the moral dilemma of balancing objectivity and advocacy. How do you navigate the...

read more
Connecting Your Audience To Your Character – The Science

Connecting Your Audience To Your Character – The Science

Welcome to the world of filmmaking where characters are the stars of the show! Whether you are creating a commercial or a documentary film, connecting your audience to your characters is an essential element of storytelling. In this article, we will dive into the...

read more
Documentary Budgeting: Making the Most of Your Resources

Documentary Budgeting: Making the Most of Your Resources

In the world of filmmaking, where creativity knows no bounds, one of the most common challenges faced by both commercial and documentary filmmakers is budgeting. Whether you're bringing a compelling story to life or capturing the realities of real people, managing...

read more
Making the Most of a Small Budget in Commercial Filmmaking

Making the Most of a Small Budget in Commercial Filmmaking

Are you a filmmaker with big dreams but a small budget? Don't worry, my fellow creative genius, because I'm here to let you in on a little secret - making a masterpiece doesn't have to break the bank! In the world of commercial filmmaking, it's all about prioritizing...

read more
Managing Client Expectations in Commercial Filmmaking

Managing Client Expectations in Commercial Filmmaking

Filmmaking is an art form that requires not only creative genius but also the ability to manage the expectations of clients. Whether you're in the business of making commercials or documentaries, understanding how to effectively communicate your process and align your...

read more
5 Key Steps To Becoming A Full Time Filmmaker

5 Key Steps To Becoming A Full Time Filmmaker

Are you tired of the 9-5 grind? Do you dream of becoming a full-time filmmaker, creating breathtaking films that captivate audiences worldwide? Well, you're in luck! In this article, we'll share with you the five key steps to turning your filmmaking passion into a...

read more