Learn how to craft an effective Interview for the Documentary, News Magazine, or Podcast

There are no available registration dates at this time.

NOTE: This class will be held in an online format using the Zoom Platform.
Class Meets Mon/Wed 2-5pm EDT + One-on-One sessions by Appointment

The long interview is the foundation of the documentary and, increasingly, for radio and digital media. From Errol Morris’ interview style in The Fog of War, to David Letterman’s conversation with Barack Obama, to Oprah Winfrey with J.K. Rowling, Ed Bradley with David Attenborough, Diane Sawyer with Michael Jackson, the interview has become an art form in itself.

In many non-fiction forms the long interview can be the spine around which the story is woven. In the news magazine piece such as 60 Minutes, the long form interview is often the centerpiece. In podcasts like The New Yorker Radio Hour with David Remnick and the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, it serves as the highlight of the show. In these media formats the interview is not only a tool for information gathering, it has become a valuable form of non-fiction entertainment. These interviews give the audience an intimate, inside look at an issue, event, or a personality.

The nature of the long form interview requires time, may involve multiple meetings, and might take place in a variety of locations. It is a relationship between two people where each may have a different agenda, and there is risk, security, and credibility on the line. The long form interview can define story, suggest b-roll, bring out character and yield focus, heft and its highest potential. In the end, the result could be a tightly-edited, award winning 15-minute magazine piece, or part of a feature length documentary, or an hour-long podcast.

The workshop will introduce foundational principles for conducting effective, intimate interviews. It will explore techniques for the long form interview, the nature of questioning, research, sequences of questions, environmental considerations, and potential ethical issues. Lectures and discussion will be accompanied by documentary clips, news magazine segments, podcasts, and relevant entertainment interviews of substance.

Students will be given interview examples and documentaries to screen outside of class, and they will conduct interviews which will be critiqued in class.

Leave with a new understanding of what it takes to craft a powerful interview.

Participants might incur modest streaming fees ($10-15) to screen films outside of class.

Image Credit:  Kara Birnbaum

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Instructor: Mimi Edmunds

Mimi Edmunds has worked in non-fiction storytelling for three decades. Her experience spans broadcast journalism, including CBS, 60 Minutes, PBS, Discovery Network, and independent production. She worked as a broadcast journalist with CBS for 15 years, including eleven at 60 Minutes, and at CBS's documentary unit, she then worked at PBS, the Discovery Network, in Maryland, Washington, and Arizona. Her films have won Emmy nominations and Cable awards. She currently works on independent productions. She has taught at the Workshops every summer since 1986, including workshops in Oaxaca, Mexico and Havana, Cuba. Several of her films have won awards for cinematography and production. She also wrote and produced for PBS' newsmagazine ARIZONA ILLUSTRATED from 1999 until 2002. She has taught documentary filmmaking and broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Emerson, and internationally. She has an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from The Stonecoast Program in Creative Writing of USM.She is on Maine Media's MFA Committee.