How we created our 'look' for interviews
We just finished our key interviews for the film this week! It was a blast to have Nisha, Ameeta, and Shalisa in town all together again. It was the first of many important steps in our production and we couldn't have done it with such success without our wonderful crew and the amazing people who are supporting us with childcare, food, and hospitality. Thank you!
Our film is all about amplifying the voices of adoptees and regarding them as experts on their experiences as adoptees. We wanted to give the subjects of our film authority on the topics they would discuss, but we also wanted to position them visually in a way that provided a sense of intimacy for the viewer. Often, the adoptee experience is most powerfully expressed in a one-on-one conversation with adoptees in which the adoptee is in charge of the discussion.
Early on when preparing to make this film, we saw an opportunity to try and simulate this intimate conversational experience through our interviews. To do this, we employed an increasingly popular interviewing technique in which we broadcast the interviewer's face onto a teleprompter in front of our main camera (known as the "Interotron"). This allowed our participants to look straight at the camera while answering questions so that it appears they are looking right at you, the audience, when discussing their experiences.
The overall look of the interviews was based on commercial portraiture that creates a colorful vignette around our subjects with the brightest point of the background resting right behind the subject's head. Each subject got a different color that we felt reflected their personalities in different ways, and to also add aesthetic variety.
Here are some screenshots that breakdown how we lit our subjects:
Our "hair light" was a single diffused light pointed at the back of her head. This helped to separate her from the background. It's really easy to make the hair light too bright, so we were careful to keep it subtle here; just enough to do its job, but not too much to be noticeable in the final image.
Our background light sat on the floor directly behind the participant pointed at the backdrop. It's just a spot light that naturally tapers off in intensity. We added ND gels to cut and balance the intensity
Our Key Light was a 24" softbox mounted on a cross bar centered above the participant at about a 45-degree angle above her. To prevent light spill onto the background, we added a grid, which keeps the light soft, but makes it highly directional.
Our Key Light placement created dramatic shadows that shaped the face in a way I didn't like, so we added a Fill Light below our participant's face by adding a light back and to the right of our subjects, pointed at a bounce card placed right above the participant's legs.
Here are some of the final images, with some (very quick) color correction to give you an idea of how each interview turned out.
Here are some behind-the-scenes shots that show off some of our setup: