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Old August 7th, 2007, 03:37 PM   #1
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how do you deal with reviews?

Hey guys/girls

So, how do you guys deal with bad reviews/no reviews...things like that? I mean, I know it takes thick skin in this business, but how do you get it? Whenever someone says something bad about what I did, it just makes me want to give up completely - if it is constructive, then of course I could try to fix it or actually think bout it. In the times that they are just plain mean, it is very tough to ignore, you know?

I could of course get numb to it - is that what you do? Getting numb to the jabs would also get a person numb to the "good job"s, i'd imagine.

Its a serious question though, how do you deal with negative reviews? When it's on the internet (in person, people always say "good job" because they can't hide behind a monitor).
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Old August 7th, 2007, 04:14 PM   #2
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You raise an interesting question here. I try to think about it like this: Your art work is not you. Even if you put a ton of effort and pour your "heart and soul" into a project, it is still the project people are critiquing, not you. Your movie might be bad, but that doesn't mean you are bad. And worse case scenario, maybe they are right. Maybe your movie/writing/painting/song/whatever "sucks", and maybe EVERYONE agrees. Ok, so you made a bad movie. But now you can make another, and hopefully learn from your mistakes. Not everyone can excel at something at the first try, and I think that fear of embarrassment or doing bad holds a lot of people back. If you can accept that you might not be good yet, but you're going to keep trying and get better, who can tell you you're wrong? It is so easy to critique things, that is why I just love to see people out there making SOMETHING.

I find for me that I try to set goals for me to achieve, and then I try and realistically see if I've accomplished them. Is it something I am proud of? Did I make what I wanted to make? It is always great to get another person's view point to catch things you didn't think about or see, but in the end if you are/are not happy with it, does it really matter what others think?

This is just how I look at your question and my opinions here, as well as other people's critiques, should be taken with a grain of salt.
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Old August 7th, 2007, 04:28 PM   #3
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Opinions are like... well everybody's got one.

I think it's important to seperate informed critique from uninformed. (Both are VERY useful)

When you finish a piece, you are likely to get glowing reviews from friends and family. (Well, MORE likely at any rate.) Good enough for ego props, but what you really need are critiques from informed people. "Peers" who can look at your work and KNOW how to critique it. "I like the opening sequence, and the music was strong... the cuts seemed a bit off, and the finish left me confused, can you clear that up?" These are the people who are likely to offer you constructive criticism that will help you refine your work. It's important to get more than one critique if possible, because this will illustrate to you that different people have different takes on YOUR vision. This is true in writing, art, filmmaking... everything.

One person may LOVE the music you've chosen, another HATE it. Ask yourself "why?" Why does the music appeal to one person and not the other? Is it an age issue? Cultural difference? Why? It might illuminate where your piece is strong OR weak... or just WHERE your target audience is. (You may think everyone will like it, but it turns out only people in your age group enjoy it.)

WHen you put your work OUT THERE... on the internet/YouTube for instance. You are intering an interactive community that thrives on conflict Some people will slam you as hard as they can, because that's IS their art from - Creating chaos and dissention. (Yes, I said "CREATING CHAOS" - it's for people who have trouble creating constructively... it's easier to 'create' by destruction for these people) In such a case you just have to understand that they are not being particularly helpful, and just ignore them.

ANd finally, there are people who don't have a clue on how to critique, but have your best interests at heart. These can be the most difficult people to listen to. Perhaps you know them, or care about their opinions. Without understanding HOW to critique a work, they will (unkowningly) use violent language to try and make a point. This makes it difficult to receive their critiques, and it makes it hard for them to understand why you don't 'get' it. I like to say they've handed me a nugget buried in a bucket of horse manure. It's up to me to decide if I want to wade through the crappy wrapping to look for the nugget.

Hang in there. Learn and grow.
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Old August 7th, 2007, 04:35 PM   #4
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Old August 7th, 2007, 05:02 PM   #5
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I'll throw in a vote for the "nugget in the bucket." I've received constructive criticism, some on this board, that has sent me through the roof screaming, "You [insert random expletive here]!" But after I've had my tantrum and I calm down, I go back, read the review/critique again and usually very quickly find that hidden nugget of truth in their critique.

The odd thing that I have noticed is that usually the more upset the critique makes me, the more valuable the "nugget" after I calm down. I'm not sure if it will work that way for you, Lisa, but you may find it does over time.

I've now gotten to the point where the most infuriating feedback is, "Good Job," or "I liked it." That gives me nothing to work off of for the future. I don't ever think I got numb to the, "Good Job." I think I went right from happily saying "Thank you," to begging them for more input, to being just plain old mad about it.

It's valuable, the negative feedback. They care enough to tell you why you suck, instead of letting you flounder in mediocrity for eternity.

Maybe that's a greeting card waiting to be made, "I care enough to tell you why you suck."

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Old August 7th, 2007, 05:32 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the replies so far. I was really worried this thread would get ignored.

The funny thing, the people that made me see red with their reviews weren't even asked by me to review it. I don't even think they thought I'd ever see it. i was reading the reviews on the writer's favorite forums site. I think i only got through a few - but then again, these are all or mostly folks that have been writing for years and never had anything produced whereas the guy i got the script from, it was his first script he put out there. So i definitely need to take that into account with this particular instance.

I guess the hardest thing for me is that I'm not the best, nowhere close. I'm still new to this world. I'm so use to being the best at what I do because I've been doing it (web application development) since before most people knew it existed. So naturally, when I try this new thing that I actually love doing, and someone says (to borrow a line) "Get out of here, kid. You got no future.", I feel like believing them.

Of course, I decided to close that web page and move on to working on my current project. My initial reaction was like yours, Kevin, I wanted to post back and flame them like a 12 year old baby. Hahaha.

One other question. If 200 people watch your movie and nobody give you any critiques good or bad - I'm taking that to mean nobody liked it but didn't want to say anything....or am I just too sensitive still? Maybe I need to "man up" as they say. ;-)
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Old August 7th, 2007, 07:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lisa Shofner View Post
Whenever someone says something bad about what I did, it just makes me want to give up completely -
I know how you feel, trust me, I'm just as bad. I almost sold off all my equipment one day just because a shoot didn't go well and my "producers" were grilling me about it.

DON'T GIVE UP.....EVER. If this is your passion, your love, etc. Learn...

Take all reviews from a non-personal level and it makes it easier. It's hard to do but works like a charm. Pretend, in your mind, that you have created something outside of your feelings/emotions and the reviewers are like, well, reviewers. Some will give you the standard "looks good", others will be brutal and then there is the inbetween. You will only learn from ALL of these "reviewers". Heck I've asked for feedback in the "Show your work" section for months now and never got a single reply, I'm not butthurt, I just ask someone at work to look at it, ha hah ahaha.

If you are married or with someone, ask them for brutal honesty. My wife doesn't know much about exposure and settings bla bla bla, BUT she knows a good shot or sequence and is the first to say "I don't understand that" or "That doesn't fit well" or "That looks great but what about if you tried this..." I use her as the first "reviewer" for almost all my work, she's so brutal I love it! - and it numbs me just enough.
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Old August 7th, 2007, 07:34 PM   #8
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My advice: 1) become a great reviewer yourself, and 2) be very direct about what feedback (if any) you are looking for.

Originally Posted by Marco Wagner View Post
...and is the first to say "I don't understand that" or "That doesn't fit well" or "That looks great but what about if you tried this..."
IMHO, of the three examples the first two are good, but the third quote is not as helpful. A good reviewer will tell people how they feel, what they do/don't understand, what flows, what seems natural. A less-skilled reviewer tells you how they would make the film. (My wife is a writer. I'm an engineer. It took years for me to learn not to solve the perceived "problems" with her works.)

In college I wrote a song and played it for some people in the apartment complex. I had the handwritten lyrics on a piece of paper. One young woman liked it but thought it could be improved. She took the piece of paper and started scratching out lines, writing her own lyrics. As you can guess, I didn't appreciate her "review!"

By understanding how to give an excellent (but not necessarily positive) review, one can learn to ask for more helpful feedback. One can also identify people with poor reviewing skills. We can then learn lessons from good reviewers - and pity the poor ones. :)
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Old August 8th, 2007, 07:18 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Emre Safak View Post
If you can pay your bills, you are good enough.

If you are an amateur doing this for fun... then have fun, and forget about what the dogs say.

I do this for a living, so as long as the client keeps sending me checks for the work I do... It's all good!
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Old August 8th, 2007, 09:42 AM   #10
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I think the hardest thing is separating your POV from the fact that the public are coming to it cold, without the knowledge of what it took to get it made.

For instance, on my latest film, the lead actor didn't turn up. He just decided that day that there was something else he'd rather do and didn't even tell us. We lost the morning trying to contact him before proceeding without him. It was literally a case of turning to the crew, and asking "Has ANYONE here ever acted before, even in high school?" So a lighting assistant (a student volunteer) became the lead. The replacement did the first two scenes without even having read the script properly. I think he did a great job, under the circumstances.

But unless I decide to re-make the film, it is what it is. If you ever see the movie, it won't be preceeded by a card explaining that the original lead let us down. I won't be entering it into festivals only for films where the lead was recast at five minutes notice and the schedule was suddenly reduced by 25%!

So my point is, whatever film you make, there are always compromises and points where it falls short of your expectations, where things beyond your control intervene, but as Mark Borchardt says in America Movie "No one ever paid to hear an excuse".

Also I think Kevin's point was so true, (and I love that catchphrase, may try it on my students) and would add, the criticisms that often upset most are of the things that I know are down to me: poor decisions made, limitations and compromises accepted before starting. It's hard not to fall back on sour grapes arguments ("I wanted low quality sound", "Why can't films be slow and repetitive?", "It's not underexposure, it's Film Noir") etc, etc. One just has to remember next time to work harder on those aspects (in my case, casting!)

In some cases, people will criticise the film just because they enjoy being mean or out of jealousy, some people just won't get it, and in some cases it will just be a difference in taste, but really, if you're any sort of true artist (and not just a great or brilliant one) you'll know the difference.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 10:19 AM   #11
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This is all great advise. I was thinking about it on the way home from work last night and listening to a CD. The lyrics made a lot of sense (to me) and seemed to fit this discussion. I think I'll keep them in mind.

From the Eminem cd Encore, song Big Weenie:

"You're just jealous of me
Cuz you, you just can't do what I do
So instead of just admitting it
You walk around and say
All kinds of really mean things
About me cuz you're a meanie, a meanie
But it's only cuz you're
Just really jealous of me
Cuz I'm what you want to be
So you just look like an idiot
When you say these mean things "

PS. i think it's ok to post these via Fair Use with the proper credits i posted, but if i'm wrong, i hope that the mods will delete just the lyrics and not this whole post or thread.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 12:55 AM   #12
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Hey Lisa,

I survive by being my own worst critic. I made a doc 15 years ago. And I said to myself (and others) when it was done that one day I would like to look back at it and think it was crap because by then I would be a much better film-maker.

And yep. When I look at it now... it looks pretty crappy.

The very first gig I had in video was a wedding. God that went so badly, I can't believe I ever picked up a camera again... Yes, you do need thick skin.

Hey, it's all about continuous improvement. Just try to learn from it.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 02:04 AM   #13
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Lisa, if the reviews are of "The Plan" in my opinion the weakest points were mainly in the scripting. It did drag a bit, however that helped to build suspense, the acting and camera work seemed very good to me for that to be your second "short".

So all the advice given here so far is really "spot on".

You do your best each time, probably take a few licks, and move on.

If you follow the feedback on the challenges on this site you'll see I take my share of licks, oh they're not bad most of the time, but we all need a thick skin some times.

Richard Boone to Paul Newman in "Hombre": "Mister, you got a lotta hard bark on you".

Grow some "hard bark" and plunge back in there and do some more video. Stay in just enough trouble to have a little bit of fun while you're at it.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 08:41 AM   #14
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Bruce: thanks for the review, I was talking abut "that plan" which followed the writers script almost exactly - maybe a little too close. I thought it turned out well.

It's funny, every time I do a new short I learn new things and then I feel like they are so obvious, how could I have missed them in the short I did before that. Haha.

I think the key really is to learn as you go along, from mistakes; reviews; and even things done right.

Thanks again everyone. Lots of great comments here.

I'm filming my DVC short tomorrow night (spent most of the week doing preproduction to get the shoting time down to managable). I'm looking forward to hearing reviews on that one in the DVC forum.
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Old August 12th, 2007, 10:01 PM   #15
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Let me give my thoughts on this topic.

First, I think the idea that a review is negative or bad is just perception. Is there really a bad or negative review? Granted if someone doesn't like your work it isn't good, however, reviews are just opinions from others that may be seeing things the artist doesn't see. Generally artists are married to their work and have a really difficult time separating themselves. That is usually a problem. I think you have to learn to separate yourself. It will help you see problems you generally wouldn't see.

Years ago I felt the same way about getting critiqued, but I have learned to accept it, and even embrace "negative" reviews. What I do is welcome them. In other words, I use critique to improve my work after others have pointed out the problems they see that I simply didn't catch. Do the same and you won't ever as what to do with negative and/or bad reviews, since they would improve your work.

Good luck
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