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Old April 17th, 2015, 03:11 AM   #1
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Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

I really wish directors/producers would pay more attention to the qualifications of key crew.


Here's the latest fiasco:

Edited a project till picture locked and turned over to Sound.

Director and sound designer worked on it for a good while, they spent a lot of time
to get it "just right". Occasional updates would come in and I hear nothing but accolades
about the designer's work from the director.

So I'm psyched to check it out....I get the mix back and holy smokes, it stinks,
the music in particular ruins the edit. I mean it's no Oscar winner to begin with but the music
composed doesn't fit and kills whatever tension, comedy, drama we built in the cut.

I'm shocked the director signed off on this, it is so bad that I'm seriously considering
removing my name from it.

I was asked to give feedback and I have to tell them the honest truth, hopefully they listen,
but how would you go about telling them in a political way in order to not offend or burn bridges?
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Old April 17th, 2015, 04:35 AM   #2
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

My preferred method is to be as blunt as a spoon but that is a sure way to burn a bridge. People are way too thin skinned when it comes to this kind of thing in my opinion.

That said the way I've learned to deal with it is to offer "concerns" and to make statements in the form of questions. What I like to call the Jeopard approach. Something like - "was diffusing the tension here with the score purposeful?". That may open the door for a conversation about what you don't agree with versus pulling the pin on a grenade and walking away.

If they turn out to be oblivious to the soft approach then consider breaking out the spoon and burning a bridge or be too busy to help next time they call.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 07:42 AM   #3
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

just last night in shooting a dining room table scene, my older director friend wanted me to frame in the chandelier, and i sternly insisted to him that it was just plain bad to do so, it was poor composition and made it obvious we're just trying to get that irrelevant object in frame. he wanted to show how over the top opulent the place was, but it didn't need a forced in chandelier to achieve that. i rolled the shot but made it clear to him it was a bad shot.

Overall on that film i'm pleased with the shots, but if it weren't my friend, and if he insisted more frequently than not for me to frame up poor shots, then yes i would have to put my foot down. long form shoots are a big commitment and you should be proud to put your name on it.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 12:26 PM   #4
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

I have learned the hard way that someone showing me something is not someone asking my opinion.

However, when you show me something and follow it with, "so, what do you think?", I lay it on you.

I find that most often people just want to show me, and not necessarily know what I think.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 01:21 PM   #5
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

" I find that most often people just want to show me, and not necessarily know what I think. "

Yup, definitely been there but something has to be said with this one, it's embarrassingly bad.
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Old April 18th, 2015, 12:35 AM   #6
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

If you don't say it now, the audience will say it later and you will get the blame. They ran it by you first, perhaps with similar concerns.
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Old April 19th, 2015, 04:32 AM   #7
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

yeah its a tough one. many times you have to ask yourself if those battles are worth fighting ("will anyone ever actually see this project, connect it to me, and will my reputation suffer as a result?"). if so, then maybe it has to be done. you are right, folks are (WE are) thin-skinned.

most of the time, the answer is "if theyre the client and theyre happy with what ive done, who am i to care what happens after?"

ive been on the other end (the criticizee if you will) and yes when you spend six months on a project and have someone tell you its crap (and yes that was someone's basic criticism, not any specific thing, just that it was overall not good at all) it suuuuuuuuper hurts, especially when you didnt ask for it. that guy is not on my "bass works of art" mailing list any longer.
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Old April 19th, 2015, 09:58 AM   #8
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Levine View Post
just last night in shooting a dining room table scene, my older director friend wanted me to frame in the chandelier, and i sternly insisted to him that it was just plain bad to do so, it was poor composition and made it obvious we're just trying to get that irrelevant object in frame. he wanted to show how over the top opulent the place was, but it didn't need a forced in chandelier to achieve that.
Haha Darren, I can well remember in my operator years having DP's whisper to me to "reach for the practical", asking me to push the frame away from a good composition to an awkward one that happens to include a wall sconce or chandelier or far away streetlight. I used to joke with my assistants that I should change my name in the credits to "camera operator/moth". I'll still encourage my operators to do so but only if the objects are just outside the framelines (or the shot was designed to incorporate them in the first place). Sounds like your director should have asked for a wider shot, or maybe the scene opener tilt down from the chandelier to the characters, etc.

As far as being honest...Mike Watson's thoughts are quite true. If I'm not being directly asked for my opinion, I'll start the ball rolling and ask the person who is showing me the clip what THEY think of it--are they happy with it. That will more often than not invite them to follow up by asking me what I think. If that's indeed something I want to get into. Also, there is the time-tested rule of thumb of criticism: lead with the positive before getting into the negative.
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Old April 19th, 2015, 10:14 AM   #9
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
lead with the positive before getting into the negative.
The problem with that is that sometimes the positive comes off sounding trite and insincere.
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Old April 19th, 2015, 10:55 AM   #10
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

Sometimes people just want to be told what they want to hear (Looks great"). OTOH sometimes people ask the question because they already know the answer ("Its pretty bad isn't it").

Otherwise, its a difficult predicament to be in, sorry I couldn't be more help. Maybe try to minimize your feelings yet drop a hint as to whats going on. Myb just say you do like it, but you think the music isn't much of a fit, and point out two or three instances where it really fails. That way your putting a positive before the negative, and also giving facts & documented examples, both of which people like.

Be careful tho, they could be very proud of the completed product, and maybe its a big accomplishment in itself, the story of it all coming together from an idea, to script,to casting & shooting to post. We all have different tastes too.
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Old April 19th, 2015, 11:50 AM   #11
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

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Originally Posted by David Barnett View Post
We all have different tastes too.
I think we can recognize when it's merely a different taste and when the person who thinks it's great clearly has none. I have seen people proud of some objectively terrible work.
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Old April 20th, 2015, 12:49 AM   #12
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

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The problem with that is that sometimes the positive comes off sounding trite and insincere.
I have taught at a for-profit college where they will take anyone off the street, no SAT/ACT requirement, no pre-reqs, no entrance exam, no essay, no application - if you can pay the bill (i.e. get the loans), they'll take you.

Even with those students... I can always, always find something to genuinely compliment.
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Old April 28th, 2015, 03:35 PM   #13
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Uncomfortable situation with client

Jeez, I gave my thoughts...not one mention of it in their reply, except they want to finish i5t
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Old April 28th, 2015, 08:05 PM   #14
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

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Originally Posted by Mike Watson View Post
Even with those students... I can always, always find something to genuinely compliment.
You're talking about human beings here, not at all the same thing as critiquing a creative work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Riggs View Post
Jeez, I gave my thoughts...not one mention of it in their reply, except they want to finish i5t
Hardly surprising, simply an element of the sunk cost fallacy.
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Old April 29th, 2015, 12:50 AM   #15
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Re: Your Work Sucks - Being honest without burning bridges

Oops. Inadvertent post.
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