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Magic conversations

Posted on Oct 12, 2023 by Samara Husbands

Down-the-lens device Magic Video Box creates and captures instant rapport between an interviewer and their subject

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We created the Magic Video Box (MVB) out of a need, passion and determination to reflect the perspectives and feelings of our interviewees by removing barriers created by the filming process.

How we started

We started Flexible Films in 2002, and capturing authentic talking heads has always been essential. By 2014, we wanted to film direct-to-camera interviews and teleprompting. Unable to find anything on the market, we built our own solution. Our prototypes evolved from repurposed storage boxes and separate tripods to a compact, portable and user-friendly device. Our clients are continually impressed at how effective, easy and fun it is to use. 

Why it works

With our device, both parties can see the other person’s whole face – a very different experience to most filming options. Seeing a person’s framed face pulls you in, so conversations flow easily. The person being filmed and the interviewer talk through the box – people often say they forget they are being filmed and feel less self-conscious. The camera is hidden behind a one-way mirror, capturing every moment. Everyone feels more relaxed when they use the MVB – even anxious clients. Its quirky look acts as an icebreaker, taking away the formality often associated with filming.

Rob Lambie, director of Channel 5’s Police Code Zero: Officer Under Attack says, “The MVB takes away any embarrassment police officers have in telling their story – they don’t feel the presence of the crew.”

The MVB effect

People who experience the MVB benefit from an incredible new communication tool that can create outstanding interviews. One woman was adamant she didn’t want to be filmed, but we convinced her to see the set-up. She was comfortable, reassured and happy to start filming. She talked for 40 minutes about a traumatic event, which wouldn’t have happened without the box.

The MVB produces such reliable results it has transformed our scheduling capacity: we have filmed 24 school students in five hours, 40 vox pops in four hours, groundbreaking mental health projects, oral histories and more. We now also offer participants their full interviews – and some have identified this as therapeutic.

Our journey

Working with PEW Electrical Distributors has been groundbreaking: they have shared their expertise to help us manufacture, sell and hire out the MVB. Sky, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 have all embraced it. 

Our MVB YouTube channel showcases our work promoting resilience, growth and community and we encourage contribution. 

Eye contact in film gains trust – this new way of filming has tremendous possibilities and we’re excited at what lies ahead. Vote for us in the Pro Moviemaker Gear of the Year Awards to help others connect and learn. 

Originally published in the September/October 2023 issue of Pro Moviemaker.

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