April 15, 2011

What cha lookin’ at?

There’s been some discussion recently about where an interview subject should look during an on camera interview: to the left, to the right, straight into the camera?

Like so many things in storytelling, I like to look to real life as my guide. For instance, I hate when I’m at a party and the person I’m talking with is looking over my shoulder, to their left, everywhere but at me. Makes me think they’re not interested in what I’m saying.

I recently went to a preview of a documentary about a famous NY restaurant owner. My partner, a food writer, and I went over to talk with him at the press party. That man never took his eyes off of us, even though I knew there were more important people at the party. I came away feeling he was genuine (and I wanted to learn his trick of how to look over someone’s shoulder without them seeing you do it?)

Ultimately, it’s a creative decision. What do you want your story to say to the viewer?

In this piece from Apple employees, (which reminds me of this perhaps even more powerful piece done by Errol Morris in the same style) the subjects look right at the viewer.

How would if feel if they were looking away?


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news, phlog, storytelling