Interview tapes are among the most interesting and valuable video projects you can undertake. They record thoughts, feelings, and personalities-not just how people look or what they’re doing. Interviews capture people, not just events.

Ten years ago television interviews were only for the rich and famous. Today, it’s economically feasible to record interviews of ordinary people for personal, family, or business purposes. Some will prefer to do their own recording, while others will want their interviews videotaped professionally.

There are certain advantages to hiring a pro for videotaped interviews:

  • The final product will look more like television and less like a home movie.
  • Customers are spared the time and effort required for an amateur production.
  • A professional gets the job done, overcoming procrastination.
  • A professional video interview most likely will make a better gift.

These benefits are also marketing tools for selling your services.

Piggyback Logic

All the video production advertising in the world can’t force a single additional wedding. But marketing can certainly create demand for your interviewing services.

The first place to look for customers is among your existing clients. For example, it’s logical to offer interviews as optional extras in wedding and party packages. Anytime you’re taping an event where honors are bestowed, there’s an opportunity to sell an interview.

It’s also useful to piggyback marketing efforts. Consider commission arrangements with professional still photographers who’ll pitch your interview services to their clients.

Word-of-mouth will be your best sales aid. Watching videotaped interviews of themselves or loved ones is an experience most people find fascinating-and they’ll talk about it.

Since videotaped interviews make wonderful gifts, it makes sense to offer gift certificates for your interviewing services.

Interview length can vary greatly, so it’s difficult to suggest a pricing structure. Perhaps you could simply apply your customary hourly rate.

People Pleasers

The following are examples of interview moneymaking opportunities:

  • There are about 45 million grandparents in the U.S. In-depth interviews would make great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or anniversary gifts. Consider them Christmas gifts for children and grand- children. See if you can market grandparent interviews to the families of your wedding customers.
  • Almost 4 million children are born every year. How about taping parent interviews as well as delivery room drama? Speak to Lamaze classes and distribute fliers.
  • There are 63 million children in America. Interviews would be more interesting than the usual school photos or birthday party videos. Kids really do say the darndest things. Try marketing through local photography studios or school photo companies.
  • Most of the 2.4 million American weddings each year are videotaped. Interviews with bride and groom are a logical addition to the wedding package. Twenty years from now, interviews of a couple recorded 30 to 90 days after the wedding will be as interesting as footage shot just before the event. Get the names of people whose weddings were taped by your competitors, and pitch the interview idea to them.
  • Boatloads of folks retire every year, and they’ll appreciate tapes of two-minute interviews with people at the farewell party. Try to persuade the employer to pay for it.
  • Interviews of guests at graduations, bar mitzvahs, and 50th wedding anniversaries will be treasured keepsakes. Graduation interViews could be promoted cooperatively with school picture photographers.
  • Corporations are a largely untapped market. If there’s a major corporate research and development center in your area, see if you can interview teams at the beginning of major projects-a great way for a company to document its expectations and assess program results.

Tape Talk

Shooting a quality interview requires two people: one to ask questions, the other to run the camera. Interviews shot in the studio are cheaper than those taped on location.

Older people spend more time on questions than the young. For example, 60 to 70 questions are about right for a 15-minute interview with a young child. A bride, groom, or young parent will answer 120 to 150 questions in an hour. A comprehensive 60- to 90-minute videotaped interview with a grandparent requires 90 to 100 questions.

Work from a prepared script of interview questions. Scripts are commercially available for parents, grandparents, children, and betrothed couples.

Done properly, family-oriented interviews don’t require editing, titles, or music. Interviews for corporations may require such enhancements.

Introductory information about date, place, and purpose of the interview should be read on-camera. Unless the subject needs a break, do the whole interview in one take.

Louis Woodhill is president of Living Family Albums, publisher of instructional kits for interview videotaping.

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