Summertime: A great time to capture family interviews

Here in Tucson the Saguaros and Palo Verdes are in bloom – a gorgeous site! This means summer is near. It’s the time of year when most of us vacation (or go on “holiday”). It’s also prime time for family reunions and for reconnecting with family members we see only once every few years, or just once in a blue moon. If you’ve been wondering when and where you can capture footage and interviews with distant family members, an upcoming reunion or family visit can offer the perfect opportunity. Follow a few simple tips and you’ll leave your next family get-together with a smile on your face, a passel of great memories and some video interviews you and your family will cherish for generations.

Tip #1: Plan ahead. Contact the relatives you’d like to interview before the reunion. Make sure they’re willing, and brief them on the questions you plan to ask.

Tip #2: Schedule a time for the interview. Figure out a time that will work best for you and your subject – then stick to it. Having a firm appointment helps both you and your storyteller prepare and is a statement of commitment. If your attitude is “we’ll get around to it sometime during the reunion,” chances are you never will.

Tip #3: Set up away from the crowd. You’ll need a quiet place away from the crowd in order to avoid distractions, keep your subject from feeling self-conscious and guarantee sound that’s as noise-free as possible. Maybe your hotel room is the best bet, or maybe your host has a room you can use. Be sure you’re set up and ready to record when your subject arrives.

Tip #4: Use the same room for all your interviews. If you have multiple interviews scheduled, don’t waste time looking for different locations for each of them. Use the same room! You’ll only have to set up all your gear once. Then, between interviews, shift your camera and subject positions slightly. Simply shooting into a different corner of the room or changing some of the background objects can give the same room a whole new look on video.

Tip #5: Treat your tapes like gold. Label them. Don’t leave them in hot cars. Do whatever it takes (legally, of course) to get them (and yourself) home safe and sound.