Is this real?
This is the question that should never cross your mind after watching a video testimonial.
A testimonial should feel totally natural, you should feel part of the story. From the perspective of the filmmaker, we look to make everything feel authentic.
It’s not just about the interviewee listing all the benefits of the service they have received. It needs to be a lot more subtle than that. This can be achieved by the tone of the questions we ask, the style of production we adopt and the equipment we utilise.
With testimonials, the most important thing is the interviewee, the person who is reflecting on their experiences. It’s important to make sure you have the right person for the job. As the interviewer it would be ideal to have a brief phone conversation before the shoot to make sure they fit your vision, you have a rapport and above all else, this is your opportunity to run a few questions by them, put their mind at ease.
Once you have the ideal suitor crafting some simple questions for the interview is the next port of call. This is integral to the final product. We need to leave space for them to express themselves but also keep them on the right track.
In order to create a powerful story we need to capture three main stages: Before, During, After.
As well as conducting a phone interview it’s wise to arrive early to the shoot, sit down, have a chat and a coffee, get to know the person so the filming doesn’t seem as intimidating.
As an example to illustrate this point let’s look at Laser Eye Surgery
1. “Can you describe to me what life was like before your laser eye surgery?’
In order to create a “hero” storyline, we need to hear of their struggles, their plight. It’s best to keep this question fairly simple, let them express themselves. Be conscious of keeping your body language interested and emphatic, after all, you can’t reply, we don’t want the interviewer’s audio in the final piece.
2. “What was the trigger for you to look into laser eye surgery?”
Again with this question, we want a story to connect with, a story to reflect on. By asking what the trigger was hopefully we should get a real life sense of their problem and their passion for change should shine through.
3. “How were you feeling before your first consultation?”
In this section, we are looking for fear and uncertainty.The same emotions potential clients may be feeling.
4.”Can you reflect on the day of the surgery?”
Again this focuses on the uncertainty but should hopefully include the positivity of the experience. After all, they have agreed to do this testimonial so they must have been impressed with the service.
5.”Can you remember the moment you knew you had made the right decision?”
Hopefully, this question should evoke positive feelings and anecdotes which all adds the story we are trying to tell.
6.”What has life in general been like since the surgery now you’ve had time to reflect?”
In this section, we are looking for the transformation! It is useful to continually reflect on their responses in your mind, is this the quote I want to represent my piece?
If not then look for a different way to phrase the question. By now you should have enough rapport with the interviewee to work out the tone needed. Just don’t make it too obvious you’re searching for the golden nugget or they might tighten up.
7.”Is there anything you’d say to somebody wondering if laser eye surgery is right for them?”
With this question we a looking for a solid recommendation of the service and product they have received. We’ve just slightly disguised it so the response feels natural.
Finally, it’s always good to ask the question
“Is there anything else you would like to add about the whole experience?’
This is the final opportunity to capture anything we may have missed, they may even repeat something but in a slightly different way. This is great, the more content the better!
To back up all that wonderful interview content we now have we need footage to accompany it. At Seven we usually like to do the cutaways after the interview so we know what things we need to capture. If you’ve done your homework beforehand then you should know if there are multiple locations to cover.
The footage and the interview content should be seamless. We are looking for the footage to document the experiences the interviewee is reflecting on.
Try to keep the whole experience as laid back as possible, the less we stage scenes the better. Tight shots of expressions and interactions often help a viewer to feel part of the story. Another way to do this is by using movement and varied shot selections within the piece to keep a steady consistent flow.
In the case of the Laser eye surgery, we would like to shoot some footage in all the various environments but the main location we want to film in is the place where the subject feels most comfortable. This will give us authentic interactions and create a nice mood for the piece.
Equipment? What equipment?
Again with this element of the filming, we are looking to be subtle and natural, recording the subject in their element.
When it comes to the filming side we don’t want the viewer to be concentrating on anything else but the subject and their story.
Here are a few tips for filming the interview:
- Use a tripod with at least a stabilizer. If the video is wonky it will distract the viewer.
- Use a decent microphone! If the sound is good nobody notices, if it’s bad they will switch off!
- Decide where the video will be played. This will affect your decision of portrait or landscape.
- Choose a quiet space, this is to avoid distracting the interviewee but also to make sure we have no unwanted sounds picked up by the microphone.
- Use natural light if you can, it’s more believable!
- Use a couple of cameras, it’s much easier for editing
- Shallow depth of field looks great for an emotive second angle.
With any testimonial video, the purpose is to catch something that is real. As a production team, we’ve done a great job if the interviewee has been at ease for the whole filming day. In turn, they will appear relaxed and genuine on camera which goes a long way to telling a story that customers will all want to hear.