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What part do interviews play in reality shows?

Reality Show Interviews

Richard Hall (Reality TV Producer) gives expert video advice on: What do reality show producers hope to get out of an interview?; What makes a great reality show interview? and more...

What part do interviews play in reality shows?

Interviews are a major part of most reality shows. In fact, they are sort of the default savior of storytellers in reality shows where you get people, you just sit them down, and you interview them endlessly about every single thing you could possibly think, so they can talk in the moment, and talk you through so you don't have to narrate. To ensure that you can fill the moment - you can take a moment that could have taken a minute in real time, and turn it into a five minute discussion or even more.

When are interviews taped?

Interviews have to be done fresh, and pretty close to the actual time that it happened. I have heard of shows where people are interviewed long after, when the producers realized that they're missing some connective tissue. They may have wanted to exploit something in the story more so than they did at the time, or you may not have seen something on tape until you had a chance to look through all your tape, and realized: Oh my God, he snapped her bra strap right there. We never even asked her about it. So, you might go back and do that.

Why are interviews used so often in reality shows?

Interviews take the place of narration. The less narration you see on reality shows, the better, the more real they feel, the less produced they feel, the less like documentaries they feel. Narration is antithetical - it really needs to be kept to a minimum, especially if you have a host already. What you really want to do is use the host and contestants. Basically, they should all tell the story.

What is an 'OTF'?

An OTF is the on the fly interview, which means that you just grab the person in the moment. You don't sit them down, you don't light them - you just grab them at the scene or place, and get a quick reaction.

What do reality show producers hope to get out of an interview?

Producers can't really stop an interview until they get a soundbite that they've heard, that they think is going to be used. Obviously most interviews aren't just in general terms, as you need a clean, in-depth answer from the interview.

What makes a great reality show interview?

A great interview could be many things. For example, if somebody cries - because crying is a really honest engaging emotion, that engages the viewer and involves them with the person on TV. Or, when somebody is angry. Essentially, anything that's showing an unedited version of yourself is pretty interesting to the viewers. It needs to be something engaging, so that they're going to give an insight into that persons character.