Documentaries: Role of an Interviewer

Whether it be in journalism or film, when it comes to interviews there is no one more powerful than the interviewer. Many people assume that the subjects, or interviewees, are the key to an effective interview, and while in some cases this may be true, oftentimes a strong interviewer is required to manipulate a session in just the right ways, not only to get the best responses from interviewees, but to gain the most insight into the subject at hand.

That being said, this raises an interesting question: how active should an interviewer be during not only the interview process, but in the final cut of the interviews/film? Is it better for the interviewer to remain an invisible presence in the film, like in Miss Representation, ¬†where the audience only hears the interviewee’s edited responses, rather than hearing the questions being asked? Or is it better for the interviewer to be an active character in the film, like in Inside Job, where they interrupt and directly interact with the interviewees, inserting their opinions into the film? Which feels more realistic, or relatable? Or does it depend on the medium or the topic/message that the film is trying to convey? I am sure that there is no concrete answer to these, but they’re pretty interesting to think about.

One thought on “Documentaries: Role of an Interviewer”

  1. I think this a real good point here Sean. How involved should the interviewer be? In Miss Representation we never heard the interviewer and those being interviewed just went on with what they were saying. Meanwhile, in Inside Job, the interviewer was constantly heard and edging on those being interviewed. Therefore, both documentaries presented very different tones. Miss Representation gave a more passive mood as it presented the facts and all those being interviewed were very calm when speaking. Whereas, Inside Job gave a more aggressive mood as the interviewer seemed to be almost arguing with those being interviewed. As you stated above, the question is which works better?

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