What is a pre-interview? Why do you do one?

Nik Kuo asked: I don't understand what a pre-interview is. Why do you do one? Can you explain more fully what this is? 

Hey Nik, a pre-interview is simply an interview, or conversation, with a potential character in pre-production. So it's before any cameras are rolling, and before we've made ANY story decisions. We haven't even chosen our lead character yet.

Also notice that I'm describing an interview specifically as a conversation. It's not about approaching your potential character with a list of questions to rapid-fire and check off the list, but it's simply about getting to know someone—think of it as chatting with a new friend.

For example, when we were shooting a few episodes of The Remarkable Ones in Asia this past November, we met our characters for breakfast or lunch to get to know them. These were our pre-interviews. Our researcher had also talked to them over Skype before we arrived when we were deciding who could be the Heart of each episode. Those Skype chats were also pre-interviews.

The purpose then of a pre-interview is to get to know our people. Getting to know our people means understanding their Big 3 Things, as well as listening for potential Plot Points—like we covered in the video above. And we want to get to know our people in pre-production so that we can  make sure we understand the story, and gather multiple perspectives, before moving forward in decisions. (Let the story move you before you move the story).

Additionally, remember that our story leads with People. It's through our Heart that we connect with our viewer. It's really important then that we choose the strongest Heart—someone who is strong in the Big 3 Things—and someone who our viewer will really want to get to know. So pre-interviews let us get to know several people so that we can make an informed decision in choosing the strongest Heart, and it's from this Heart that we'll then build the rest of our story.