As a blogger I often get the chance to interview directors, producers, artist, and other celebrities about films and projects they are working on. This can be an overwhelming task because there are so many factors. It’s all about creating effective questions for a great interview. It’s important to arm yourself with at least 5 good questions because chances are that you won’t be the only person interviewing them and someone else may ask your question. One of the unspoken rules when interviewing talent is that you do not ask questions concerning their other work – they are there to promote THAT film. Not only is it rude, you’re probably not going to get invited again.
Now that we have that out of the way, what makes a good question? First, avoided close ended questions. Make sure you phrase a question in a way that isn’t answered with just a yes or no. For instance, instead of asking “Did you find yourself relatable to your character?” ask “What similarities did you see between yourself and your character?” Secondly,a good question is also one that lets them know you did you research. Third, there are times where you will want to direct your answer. If a question is too broad they may not be able to answer. Or they may relate to a question differently than you intended and you won’t get the answer you’re looking for. Lastly, when asking questions it’s important to keep in mind what you will be sharing with your readers. The more open ended the question and the longer the answer the more content you will have to build off.
So how do you come up with questions? You need to do research, research and MORE research. Start with the project or film they are working on. Then research the talent. Keep in mind how the film may relate to your audience, life or the talents own personal experience. Try to draw correlations that are outside of the project itself.
For example, I recently had an interview with Jessica Alba concerning her latest movie Escape From Planet Earth. During the course of researching the film I found that they had partnered with Young Minds Inspired to explore educational content from the movie. Which generated this question: It was so awesome to see escape from planet earth has partnered with Young Minds Inspired (YMI) to explore educational content from the movie. As mothers this is an important part of a young childs movie experience. In what way has being a mom influenced your acting experience and frame of reference?
This question served 3 purposes. 1) It was meant to impress. It let them know I did my homework. 2) It directed the type of answer I wanted. 3) It was open ended and meant to spark conversation. The talent could give a variety of pertinent answers and she did! It was one of the longest answers in the interview.
Another reason to research the talent is that they might have a previous relationship with the director, producer, franchise, charity or coworkers. For instance, researching Kathryn Beaumont, the voice behind Peter Pan’s Wendy, I discovered that she had a long career with Walt Disney and worked with him personally. Imagine! Someone who had actually worked with Walt and could share that experience. I knew this would be something readers would feel privileged in learning and again, it would let them know I did my research.
With adequate research interviews are easy. Just keep these few important rules in mind.
- Research, Research, Research
- Only question talent about THIS project.
- Ask only open ended questions.
- Provide direction and background information on the question when necessary.
- Impress talent by letting them know you’ve done your homework.