1. Back to Basics – Stick with what you know. Three point lighting is your friend. Check focus early and often. Keep a consistent and level eye line. This is not the time to experiment. Give yourself as much depth as you can between your subject and background and keep your composition clean.
  2. Know your surroundings – You’re interviewing a U.S. Senator and you’re going to be on Capitol Hill. Security is going to be tight. The last thing you want is to waste those precious minutes of set-up time checking in a boat load of gear through a security gate. Travel light to keep things simple. Small, one-panel LED lights are a good substitute when you’re on the go!
  3. Think on your feet – Last minute shoots lead to last minute decisions. Advanced planning is always preferable but sometimes you have to improvise. This ties in with knowing your surroundings. Understanding your environment can help you plan for certain contingencies.
  4. Ask the right questions – You might have, at most, fifteen minutes to get the content you need before Beyonce needs to bounce. So make sure the questions you ask will elicit the right responses without making them seem biased. Keep your questions short and concise and you’ll get a concise response. Also, have your questions accessible. Storing them on your smartphone or iPad will help you stay organized AND is environmentally friendly.
  5. They’ve done this before – Hopefully, you have too, otherwise you wouldn’t be in this position. Your star knows what it takes to make them look good on camera. They might even understand a thing or two about lighting and sound. Don’t be surprised if they prefer to favor their good side on camera or wear their mic a certain way, or even mic themselves (I’ve had that happen). Get everything set but be flexible so you can make changes if you get thrown a curveball.
  6. You’re a professional – Act like one! Don’t get starstruck and ask them for their autograph, not even if it’s “for your mother”. You’re there to do a job. If you’re overcome with awe then you’re not focused and you’re going to make mistakes. A great shoot will impress your clients and likely lead to other opportunities to work with a popular figure.

The bottom line is, regardless of who you’re working with, you should always strive to do your best. In crunch time, though, it’s nice to know how to drive it home for a win.