Most of the media training courses we run are for spokespeople who are going to be interviewed for news programmes, however, I was recently involved in a training session for a company which is going to be the subject of an observational documentary.
They wanted to learn how to appear natural on camera, how to avoid dropping themselves – or their company – in it, how to come across as professional, plus the general etiquette of how to behave if you have a TV crew watching your every move for months on end.
Here are some of the tips and advice we gave them about being in an obseravational documentary:
1. Be natural
Be yourself on camera. It is impossible to put on a different ‘front’ for months on end – and the production team will want you to be yourself. Viewers can tell someone who is ‘faking’ it instantly, and they won’t respond to you.
2. Show your challenges
The most engaging stories – and characters – are those who are not afraid to show it when they are having problems, or struggling or facing a challenge. The viewers will empathise with your problems and cheer you on when you overcome your difficulties.
3. You can say no
If there is something you don’t want to have filmed, then say so. It is much better to deal with it there and then, than wait until the programme is in the edit. So if there is an event, or you are going through some kind of emergency or an issue that it would be better not to capture in the programme, then say so immediately.
4. Deal with issues immediately
If something is filmed that you’d rather didn’t appear in the programme, say so immediately. As with number 3, it’s much easier to deal with it there and then.
Read more: What to expect: TV documentary interviews
5. Be microphone aware
Microphones can be really sensitive, so if the camera is in the room, then assume it is recording. You don’t want to be picked up swearing or complaining about someone – especially not the production team. And if you’re wearing a radio-mic, switch it off if you’re not being filmed – particularly if you go to the toilet!
6. Set the rules at the start
Be clear if there are places or events that can’t be filmed, and if there are people who have not consented to take part in the programme, so they are not inadvertently captured on camera.
7. Be upfront
And if anyone has a potentially suspect past that could cause problems with the transmission, say so at the start
8. Get trained!
Like this very savvy company, it’s a wise idea to get some cameras and media trainers in to give your team a run-through and some experience of talking about themselves on camera.
If you are approached about being in an observational documentary and would like some help preparing, contact us on 020 8332 6200 or email@example.com.