5 tips for great on-screen interviews

​On-screen interviews in your Real Estate (RE) film can really lift its impact, in terms of information imparted and emotional connections made. Think the passionate architect or proud homeowner. If you look back at the Photography for Real Estate video competition entries over the last few years you’ll see lots of examples of people being interviewed on screen - good and bad - and here are our top 5 tips for making the most of interviews in your films.

1) Audio. 

Viewers will forgive all sorts of picture issues, as long as you get a feel for the property, but no one likes bad sound. 

If you have the budget, invest in a decent directional mic and get it in close, typically just above the head of your subject. A mic stand can be useful here. Radio mics are a little more fiddly to use but allow a person to walk and talk and be heard in big wide shots. Be wary of trying to cover two people from the same radio mic. It can work if they are really near to each other but not at all if any further than a couple of feet away. If all you have is the camera’s tiny on board mic, get the subject close, so the sound is OK. 

In all cases, monitor the sound with headphones to hear what’s actually being recorded and be wary of using auto levels which boosts the background noise in between words.

2) Lighting.

Sometimes you have time / equipment to light a talking head, sometimes not. Often nice soft natural light can give the best results anyway. In any event, be aware that viewers need to see the face of the person who is speaking. 

The classic mistake is to film someone in front of a bright window ‘for the view’, leaving them in shadow.

3) Framing.

There are all sorts of options for framing and interview, from full length long shots to extreme close-ups. Eye line can be directly to camera, just to the side or somewhere else entirely. Play around with what suits you and your film style but don’t be afraid of the regular boring mid-shot with eye line just off-camera. It’s the standard for TV interviewing around the world for a reason. You can see the face of the speaker clearly and they have some background context. 

4) Movement.

Walking and talking interviews can be brilliant - a dynamic way of showing off a property in both words and pictures. It’s also really hard to pull off well! If in doubt, keep the camera on the tripod. You can always film your subject wandering around the house afterwards, to illustrate a basic interview. If you must interview on the move, the key is to have plenty to cut away to so you can edit what’s said effectively. The classic cutaway for RE is whatever bit of the property is being mentioned. Close-up details work really well as cutaways as you can go anywhere in the film after a CU. Big wide shots, either with the spoken line repeated or non-sync so you can’t see what’s being said, are good too for context. Also POV shots of a walk through an area.

5) Content.

Interviews tend to work best, and sound most natural, when the subject has an idea about what is to be covered but does not pre-plan it too much. Think of how you would chat with an acquaintance in a bar.  Try to use open questions like ‘tell me about…’ in order to avoid one-word answers. This will also allow you to cut out the interviewer’s questions. Another tip is to ask the interviewee to include the question in the answer. For example, Q ‘ Tell me about the design of the house’ A ‘The house was designed in the style of…’ Such tricks will make the edit much easier.  

Finally, if an interviewee is really struggling with an off-the-cuff approach (it does happen, even with company CEOs) then pre-scripting / reading an interview is not the end of the world. It certainly means that you can control the content completely. Just make sure you get enough of them looking into camera for regular in-vision bits (c3-5 secs at time).

Eye opening videos for charity client

​This month we delivered a set of videos for Quartet Community Foundation

QCF works with donors big and small to provide grants to charities in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. This year marks the Foundation’s 30th anniversary, and the films both celebrate and explain the great work the team and all the associated volunteers have achieved. It was a privilege to showcase some of the lives their work has changed, from helping young carers have time for themselves through the performing arts to being a lifeline to parents of young children who face hard times.

We produced five short films from our two days of filming: an overview; two case studies; an interview with a donor and an interview with a volunteer. The videos will be used to promote QCF’s work via their website and YouTube channel. If you don’t know QCF’s work it’s really worth taking a look. They carefully research the areas of most need in the local area and provide a lifeline to charities that are too small or busy to fundraise for themselves. Clever investment means donations grow over time so donations can be worth far more than the initial sum. Some of the early donors have seen their investments more than double so they can keep on giving year after year, for ever and ever. 

Beeston Media - 2016 highlights

​2016 was another busy and fascinating year for Beeston Media, with some excellent new clients and plenty of return business.

In PROPERTY, we continued our long-standing association with top-end builders Knowles & Associates, with regular film shoots of their epic building projects, often with stunning subterranean elements. A highlight for Knowles was a large country house in Wiltshire where we also deployed a drone for aerial views. For Werner Developments, we have shot video and stills for a fantastic new-build mansion in Surrey and for Fargain Developments, we shot prime mansions both in Chelsea and also out in sunny Monaco. We have also continued our coverage of the Bishops Avenue super-prime Buxmead scheme for Harrison Varma, with repeat visits to the site as more areas are completed to update the imagery. Other new property clients include builders CBros Construction and branding agency DD London

Of particular note is our project for Retreat East, an exquisite luxury farm share scheme in Suffolk, for which we produced two lovely films. The brief was to make the 'emotional case' for the development and the films included an appearance from international model / trainer Roger Frampton and aerials by Trigger Air. The main film also won Videographer of the Month on international real estate blog Photography for Real Estate - our third such win in as many years.

In EDUCATION, our association with University of Bristol is entering its sixth year. 

In 2016, highlights included a high profile film featuring the UoB Vice-Chancellor and local NHS chief to spearhead a multi-million pound funding bid by Biomedical Research Centre Bristol, which ultimately led to a £21m award;  a series of films to accompany the launch of the South West Nuclear Hub; and coverage of a visit to the University from Bristol's newly-elected Mayor Marvin Rees.

We also made 20x course promos for the School for Policy Studies, filmed 16x lectures for the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership and, in a first for us, produced a fully-animated video to promote the UK - Somalia business development scheme Somalia First! 

Outside UoB, we have begun work with new client Bonas Macfarlane producing an online film to promote their international University Preparation Academy scheme.

In TECHNOLOGY, new client Rayleigh Instruments brought some interesting projects to promote their range of electrical transformers / monitoring systems. A highlight was the split-screen 'race' between the same electrician to show just how speedy the Rayleigh Easywire system can be. Other Technology clients in 2016 included SWS Certification Services with our fifth upgrade of their corporate film for the annual trade show circuit.

Finally, in the CORPORATE sector, notable projects include a ongoing stills-only projects for UK lighthouse institution Trinity House to gradually refresh all their imagery for PR / online use; a series of films about advanced driving for the Police Service via longtime client Drive Smarter and a film for two new charitable sector clients The Thalidomide Trust and The Quartet Community Foundation.

Do please have a look around the website and get in touch to see how we can help you / your business in 2017.

Case Study: Buxmead - a pre-completion super-prime residential film project

​When client Harrison Varma approached us with their latest development in Hampstead in summer 2015 we knew they had something special. Buxmead is an award-winning 20-unit scheme in a prime spot on the Bishops Avenue. The CGIs showed just how spectacular the final product would be. Yet there was a big story to tell between the then building site and these glossy images. When property is this prime, the pedigree, the endeavour and the attention to detail is a tale in itself.

Pulling out these stories is about getting to know your client and how they in turn serve theirs. Harrison Varma is a family firm at heart, with MD Anil Varma at the helm, his wife Marisa Varma as Director, Head of Interiors and their daughter Immy Varma heading up marketing. What impressed us about them and their team is just how much careful thought went into their end user, their lifestyle and the neighbourhood. As local residents themselves their ‘effortless living’ approach is more than a mere tagline. It really does present an exciting prospect forged through years of experience and inspiration from knowing their customers, and spotting a genuine gap in the market. 

So how to bottle this devotion to both client and architecture? The personal touch was needed. This came from testimony from Marisa and Anil as well as local experts such as Stephen Lindsay from Savills and Trevor Abrahmsohn from Glentree Estates. Six short films were devised to capture the essence of Buxmead that made use of these interviews and interwove them with footage of the site in progress, CGIs and archive of other recent projects. This Phase One of the video marketing was displayed on customised Buxmead iPads, devised by London agency Sectorlight. These tablets became the prime marketing platform, preloaded with the films and additional Buxmead information, to be used by sales agents and given to serious prospective buyers.

Beeston Media Creative Director, Hamish Beeston was impressed with HV’s innovative offer: 

‘Our job is to assess a scheme’s potential and get its magic on screen. It has to look wonderful, elicit an emotional response and make a connection with the viewer. Harrison Varma’s approach is already very tailored. Whilst some developments suit the big marketing suite / big screen platform, an iPad specifically loaded for you with great attention to detail, to be browsed through at leisure, reinforces the warm personal one on one service these guys deliver’. 

The use of iPads also means that marketing collateral can easily be updated as the scheme progresses, saving piles of quickly outdated brochures. Phase Two was filmed in September 2016 to showcase the newly-completed communal amenities complex - a stunning 14,000 sq ft suite of games room, cinema, private dining room, residents lounge, offices and gym, pool and spa, as well as two completed apartments. Phase Three will include aerial drone filming when the scheme completes in 2017.

Editing took place in Beeston’s Bristol offices with proofing via online webstreams. It’s a workflow that works well for Immy Varma:

‘Being able to update the Buxmead app with new content remotely allows for evolving marketing collateral that is valid for the entire duration of the project. Due to the multi-purpose aspect of the device, the iPad travels with our clients and agents, and is a fantastic marketing tool that promotes word-of-mouth and 3rd party endorsement. Importantly, the iPad offering allows us to showcase film content which we believe is the best way to portray the quality, scale and complexity of our developments.’ 

Beeston Media - 2015 highlights

​In 2015 we have continued with the record levels of video / stills work reached in 2014, with projects largely split across our main four sectors of Property, Education, Technology and Corporate.

Technically, this year we upgraded our filming equipment to 4k, which has made a huge difference to the quality of our films. There's also the added bonus that clients can take (print-quality) still images directly from the 4k video. To our trusted Wally Dolly track system we have added a DJI Ronin camera-stabilisation rig which gives us more sophisticated moves. We have also forged relationships with a couple of excellent videographics freelancers, whose work has added a new dimension to a number of projects, from simple moving text to whole films created solely from animation.

In PROPERTY, we continued our long-standing association with top-end builders Knowles & Associates and London Projects, producing company profile films for both as well as numerous standalone project films. We have also begun a series of films for Harrison Varma to promote their new Bishops Avenue super-prime Buxmead scheme. Other developer clients include Seqoya and Werner Capital.

Of particular note is a Knightsbridge mews house by London Projects that we shot for the developer. We delivered a full set of stills plus 2x films of the property, which later won us both Videographer of the Month and Photographer of the Month on international real estate blog Photography for Real Estate. This is the first time a single entrant has won the video / stills monthly double-whammy!

Also in Property, we have added a couple of new country house clients to our hush-hush private project roster. I can say very little about these except that the properties are quite extraordinary and helicopters are involved...

In EDUCATION, our association with University of Bristol is entering its fifth year. In 2015, highlights include a series of 7x films to promote a nationwide study of Urban Pollination, an animation-rich public health film about the IUS device and a hospital drama to train students how to deal with alcohol-dependent patients. 

We also made a dozen films for the Law School, shot 70x vox pops for UCAS over one very busy day and filmed dental students practising their art on dead pig heads!

In TECHNOLOGY, we are once again working for air ambulance / police / offshore helicopter creators Specialist Aviation Services. As with many of our clients, with SAS we have moved on from producing a single long tell-all film to instead creating a suite of shorter, more specific videos. We have also shot full range of still images on each location day. Other Technology clients in 2015 include SWS Certification Services, Honeywell Skyforce and veterinary innovation firm Docsinnovent.

Finally, in the CORPORATE sector, notable projects include a couple of stills-only jobs for UK lighthouse institution Trinity House and covering the 2015 Policy & Politics Journal Conference. 

Do please have a look around the website and get in touch to see how we can help you / your business in 2016.