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Six degrees of me and Spike Lee

posted by Pauline Luppert on Mon, Oct 27, 2008
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So, in my last job I produced a few short, casual interviews like this... just me, a camera and the person who would be interviewed. (Mostly I produced short video segments with indie fashion designers in NYC for a webTV show called threadheads).

When I produce an interview with a single camera -- and don't have a host-type person there to ask the questions -- there are a few directions I typically give the subject whom is about to be interviewed. First, I want them to be relaxed, so I chit-chat while I'm setting up the camera. I ask nice innocuous questions so that the subject gets used to the camera and warms up before I get to the juicy part of the interview. Second, I ask them to try and include my questions in their answers, like if I ask, "What's your name?" I want them to answer, "My name is Jane Smith," rather than just saying, "Jane Smith." This makes it a hundred times easier for me to edit my own voice out of the footage. If I'm interviewing someone who hasn't been on camera much before, I typically have to remind her or him throughout the interview, "Could you say that again, but this time include my question at the top?" Finally, I usually assure subjects that, if they don't like the way they answered the question, they can just start over. No pressure. That is what I do when I interview people who aren't used to being interviewed...

That is not what I did when I interviewed Delroy Lindo. He's clearly been interviewed and filmed in general many, many, many more times than I have interviewed. He didn't need to warm up for the camera. I'm sure it was obvious that I was a hundred times more nervous than he was. He naturally included my questions in his answers; he didn't need to be directed to do so. Seriously, I'm glad I didn't embarass myself trying to give him direction. I mean, come on, this man has been directed by John Woo, George C. Wolfe (my old boss; hollah!), and Spike Lee -- to name a few.


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