This is the first of a two-part series on filming man-on-the-street videos. Here in part one, we share what to keep in mind before you get out there.
Recently, we’ve been shooting lots of man-on-the-street videos, for our own purposes, as well as our clients’. We go out to the public and interview strangers on a certain topic, edit the footage into a story, and post the video onto the company website, YouTube account and social media channels – often pitching these findings to reporters. Why? Because video’s interesting, great for SEO, and attention-grabbing in a world with an ever- shrinking attention span.
It turns out – filming is hard. Or, it can be, if you don’t know what you’re doing. We made plenty of mistakes in our first outings, but we’ve learned from them, and created a list of tips to share with those thinking of getting out there on the street and shooting a few videos of their own.
What’s your story?
Think about problems and pain points that every business or employee faces, and how your product addresses those concerns. Remember, your goal isn’t to conduct data. It’s to collect interesting sound bites that demonstrate a trend – and your company’s value.
Get it together
Make sure you come prepared. The camera is obvious. But don’t forget to print out a few copies of your questions, have a few pens and grab the tripod, if available. And look nice – you want to look like you represent a business and aren’t asking for money.
There are a lot of factors that come into play when thinking about your location. Shoot for natural sunlight, heavy foot traffic and little-to-no wind. Indoor light comes out grainy, little foot traffic means fewer willing participants, and wind distorts the audio.
Have some backup locations in mind, too. You may get kicked out of the first one. For one of our shoots, we filmed at the airport for two hours without incident. On our second shoot there, long-story-short, we were told it wasn’t allowed.
One of each
If you have the resources, try sending a man and a woman to conduct the man-on-the-street survey. We found that men were more likely do a survey when a woman asked them, and vice versa.
Shooting in winter? Your camera’s battery may not like that. Our first shoot ended after about ten minutes when the battery died, even though it was fully charged when we started. The cold simply drained it. We found that having something to keep the camera warm – a pocket, gloves, etc. – greatly increased the battery life.