Producing a Killer Interview: How to Nail Working with Talent and VIPs

Whether you’re a director, filmographer, photographer, or set stylist, chances are you’re going to work regularly with talent. If things go pear-shaped, you don’t always have the opportunity for a do-over especially if you’re conducting a live interview. E! Online Presenter Tammy Christina shares her top tips for getting the best out of talent on set.

Coming up to her 10th year in the industry, Sydney and LA based presenter Tammy Christina has had her fair share of interactions with VIPs and celebrities. From working as “takeover girl” at red carpet events for E! Online; to showcasing BTS music tours for Live Nation Australia, Tammy’s interview style ensures all parties leave the room with no complaints.

“Throughout my career I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some very talented individuals, from Elton John to Kanye West,” says Tammy. “But when working with any talent, it is important to remember they are just normal people.”

With all of the craziness that comes with the entertainment industry and its events, interviews tend to be over in the blink of an eye.

“Sometimes I can’t even remember the full conversation, so I have to watch it back and absorb what was good, or what can be improved.”

Through this process, Tammy has learnt first hand how to best nail an interview, and shares her top five tips with us below.

MAKE THEM FEEL COMFORTABLE

We know that interviews can often be daunting for the subject, and even a polished, media-trained celebrity can clam up if under pressure, or even become antagonistic towards their interviewer and film crew.

“I’ve found the best way to make talent feel at ease is to ask in advance what they are excited about, or what they’re currently working on,” says Tammy.

“My aim is to support them and facilitate their communication with their desired audiences. How I can make them look good to build their fan base.”

“If you make them feel like they are directing the angle, they will feel more comfortable with the questions and open up to you.”

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Through this soft style approach, Tammy finds it’s easier to encourage talent to share personal information or facts about themselves that may not have been reported on before.

“It isn’t my MO to push hard for a scoop. I usually ask beforehand if there is anything they are willing to share on certain topics that they generally don’t touch on,” she says.

“I wouldn’t want to manipulate the interview just to uncover a scoop and leave the talent feeling uneasy or stressed moving forward.

While some of us love indulging in a scandalous expose, it’s important for interviewers to weigh up whether the shock value is worth risking their reputation.

“My advice would be to think about the longevity of the relationship and future stories they may come to you with. You really can’t go wrong being mutually respectful.”

KNOW YOUR STUFF

It may go without saying, but any interviewer needs a thorough background on their subject, especially major career moves and life events. In-depth research will help you prepare a solid set of questions, and rule out those that have been over-answered.

The last thing you want is a bad reaction that stops the interview.  One director famously reacted to being asked about his opinion on violence in movies. He immediately shutdown his interviewer, noting how often he’d been asked this and already gone on record.

In saying that, don’t be afraid to ask personal questions that you don’t know the answers to or haven’t found answered online.

“I actually find it’s more authentic when they’re teaching you about themselves for the first time,” says Tammy. “They can observe your reaction and instantly engage with you as they know it’s a genuine conversation.”

SAY LESS, LISTEN MORE

Ultimately, the goal is to let the viewers engage with the talent. The VIP you are interviewing also wants to engage positively with your viewers. Sometimes it’s key to simply ask the question and let them do the talking, especially if you haven’t done your due diligence.

“You never want to put your foot in it, which I have learned the hard way. My biggest tip is say less if you aren’t sure on something,” says Tammy.

“You would rather be the ‘listener’ than the ‘speaker’ if you are talking about a topic you’re not well versed on. Once you put your foot in it, it is kind of irreversible and the interview can get awkward unless you have a good save.”

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

Whether you’re a beginner or an industry veteran, one of the most important tips is to build a strong network within your field. Cultivating close and mutually beneficial relationships may just land you your next big interview.

“So much of networking circles back to being easy to work with, armed with a good attitude, work ethic and respect for everyone involved.”

“Communication is key, so respond in a timely manner and stick to your word,” she says.

“If you’re going to be late on a deadline, let your client know. You never know what job they may refer you for in the future!”

Tammy Christina

Presenter

Tammy Christina, also known as W By White Wolfe, is a lawyer-turned-influencer and presenter based between Australia and Los Angeles with a prime focus on the fusion of luxury fashion with sport, lifestyle, travel and entertainment since 2012.

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