Interviews play an important role in documentaries, network news programs, special features and other events. A well-seasoned interviewer can make the process look as simple as sitting down and chatting with someone. Setting up an interview, however, takes lots of legwork and planning. First and foremost is convincing the potential interviewee to participate in the interview and convincing the program director or producer that the particular interview is worth the time and expense.
The Purpose of the Proposal
An interview proposal’s task is to lay out in a logical way the reasons for the interview. The goal is to convince the program director that the interview has merit and to persuade the potential interviewee to participate in the interview. A potential interviewee may be hesitant or skeptical about being interviewed. The program director may have his own doubts about the relevance of the interview. Explain why you want to interview the subject. If you are filming a documentary, for example, briefly discuss the theme of the documentary, why it is important and what you would like the interviewee to contribute.
Title and Contact Information
Type the title and date on the top of the proposal page. If you are interviewing the rock star Alice Cooper, for example, type Alice Cooper Interview -- and also include the name of the person or organization conducting the interview. Include your contact information in the proposal. This makes it possible for the potential interviewee to respond to the proposal. He may simply accept or decline the proposal or he may be interested in negotiating the details of the proposal. This is why all the details of the interview should be clear and unambiguous.
Outline of Topics
In deciding to agree or not agree to an interview the primary element an interviewee will consider are the topics or potential questions of the interview. The proposal should clarify the gist of the interview without giving too much away. Outline the general topics of the interview, the types of questions you may ask and the reasons why you want to interview the interviewee. Making the topics too vague runs the risk of not providing the necessary information to make an informed decision. At the same time, avoid asking the specific questions. The actual answers in the interview may come across as too rehearsed or the interviewee may develop strategies to avoid answering the questions. Discuss the outline of topics with the program director and ask for his input before submitting the proposal to the interviewee.
Nuts and Bolts
The topics and questions form the substantive part of the proposal, but the concrete details of the interview need to be addressed as well. This aspect of the proposal is particularly important to the program director. She will want to know what the overall costs are, what resources are required and who is involved on the project. The nuts and bolts issues of the proposal include a list of required items such as cameras and lighting, desks and chairs and so on. Other nuts and bolts issues include possible locations or sites for the interview, the time and date for the interview, and the name of the person conducting the interview; include the background and credentials of the interviewer. Let the interviewee know that you are flexible and willing to coordinate around their schedule and availability.
Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.