Dealing With Criticism of Your Work

Just wanted to see how people handle criticism of their work, whether it be a screenplay, short, feature. What is the best way to deal with negativity towards your work when you think it is the best possible product that you could have produced.
 
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Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Nothing is liked by everyone, someone's always bitching about something.
The day one Presidential candidate wins automagically EVERYONE that didn't vote for him/her hates his/her guts - and then those that did start hating them when they fail to deliver to their satisfaction.

Just start crankin' out your next piece or two or three.
No 'One and done.'

Identify the difference between a legit informed critique and an uninformed b!tch.
Consider the former, dismiss the latter.

Is your product the best that YOU could produce, the best you cold produce with the resources YOU have available, or the best that ANYONE ever would produce?
Is there a kernel of truth to the "critique."

Consider that a legit grievance may be delivered poorly, some merit exists.

Consider that some people are ignorant haters that should be vilified in your next piece! :yes:

Maybe you're immature and need to grow a pair & man up to keyboard commandos.




All kinds of approaches are available.
Good luck & best wishes.
(Maybe your Mom will like it!)
 
Try to remember that if someone criticizes your work and you change it to make them happy, then the people who liked it before won't like it. All you can do is make something you think is good. The only criticism that has any value is technical criticism. Artistic criticism won't help you, only continuing to make art will

"Opinions are like assholes.... everyone has one and they're all full of shit"
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
What is the best way to deal with negativity towards your work when you think it is the best possible product that you could have produced.

I don't think I can answer this question, because I don't believe there is an upper limit on how good something can be. For something as complex as a film, it can ALWAYS be better.

For criticism it also greatly depends on what stage your work is currently in. I asked a couple of regulars here for feedback on superhero action comedy.. 1 person thought it was funny, 2 people did not. I thought long and hard and decided comedies don't win awards anyway. I scrapped 80% of the script and I'm replacing the comedy with sentimentality, it's more of an 'oscar bait' type of film now. I don't think I would have done that without the negative feedback, but I'm seriously happy that I did! It's a better product because of it. Nobody gave me that new direction, but I took that feedback they provided and took a new direction on my own initiative.

For criticism of a work that is already complete and there is nothing you can do.. see that image above about the fetal position.
 
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when you think it is the best possible product that you could have produced

This may be an issue. There are very few filmmakers who don't think there is any room for improvement.

Criticism is an opportunity to improve. Learn to embrace it.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
What is the best way to deal with negativity towards your work when you think it is the best possible product that you could have produced.
You say, "Thank you for your opinion."

Let me ask you something. Seriously. Have you ever not liked a
movie or a TV show? Have you ever expressed that dislike to anyone?
What would YOU want to hear from the creator of the work that
you didn't like when you expressed that feeling?
 
Artistic criticism won't help you[/I]


WHAT???

ok i get your next point, "continuing to make art will", but, really???? i have to say i not only do i entirely disagree, but this statement angers me!

i point you to: thesis + antithesis = synthesis. only with consideration of the opposite point of view, will art, quality, work, sandwiches, anything, be improved. art, of course, is a ridiculous thing to define, but without someone arguing with me on the nuance of my choices in showing something, or how and why i'm saying something with my work, i feel like i will never improve. the storytelling is the art, the camera angles, moves, and lens choices are the art, the set and art direction is the art, i can go on, but you get the picture. if i don't get a negative opinion or an argument about a specific choice i made in a film from a viewer about my art, then i don't value their opinion (read: fluffing of my own ego).

honestly, to answer the OPs question, i get mad if i don't get negative feedback, that makes me feel like what i did wasn't worth 2 shits as an artistic endeavor and that makes me feel WORSE! i expect, i wait for the negative reviews, how else am i supposed to improve? how else am i supposed to understand how my work affected the viewer?? i think if you cower from negative reviews, you're not taking yourself seriously enough (i know there's such a thing as taking yourself too seriously, too, it's a thin line to toe maybe)
 
i think if you cower from negative reviews, you're not taking yourself seriously enough (i know there's such a thing as taking yourself too seriously, too, it's a thin line to toe maybe)

I think if you cower from negative reviews, it just means you don't believe you made a good enough film. I enjoy seeing negative feedback on things I create, it helps me gauge my audience and their interests and behaviors. If I believe it's good, why would I care if someone doesn't like it? I don't know what their mindset was when they watched it, I don't know if they truly paid attention or watched the piece in full, I don't know the depths of their intelligence or sense of humor, and I don't know if their tastes are completely opposed to the target audience.


i point you to: thesis + antithesis = synthesis. only with consideration of the opposite point of view, will art, quality, work, sandwiches, anything, be improved.

You speak as though this is an objective truth. This too is merely an opinion and just because you say it, doesn't make it fact. If I were to criticize the bologna and cheese sandwich you made and said "Yuck! This is HORRIBLE! You put bologna on this, everyone knows bologna is disgusting and shouldn't be used for sandwiches!" Would you think; A) "Maybe I shouldn't put bologna on sandwiches ever again." or B) "I guess he doesn't like bologna."

Now if I were to say "This sandwich has the potential to be better. For example, if you were to use Ekrich Bologna instead of Oscar Meyer, I believe this sandwich would be fit for a king, because Oscar Meyer has been known to make their so-called 'beef' bologna out of gopher."

The latter provides an example of technical criticism while the former provides you with artistic criticism. When criticism does not offer a solution, it is always with the goal to reduce you and your efforts. Artistic criticism provides no solution, just statements that amount to "I don't like this, therefore it is bad" even though bad is subjective.

I implore you to think of your favorite film... Now look for a bad review, specifically for a well-constructed, coherent review. Browse Imdb's user reviews and switch the drop-down menu to "hated it." Tell me if you think your favorite film would be better if they had changed it specifically to make that particular critic enjoy it.

An example of opposing viewpoints on the film "Shawshank Redemption"

Loved It: "When you analyze the dialog, the characters, the directing and the tone of the movie, the picture flows flawlessly, even when it detours into side stories like Brooks Hatlen's release and new prisoner Tommy's introduction late in the picture"


Hated It: "The story of Shawshank Redemption is something I might expect if I was being pitched a script by middle schoolers. We mainly find dry dialog from characters are so bland, I might as well be staring at glue dry. The manner in which the mini stories unfolded was 'not stimulating'."

Two views that, when placed side-by-side and treated as equals, form an adult version of two kids going "Uh-HUH!" "NUH-Uh!" "Uh-HUH!" "NUH-Uh!" "Uh-HUH!" "NUH-Uh!"

Do you see the point here, yet? Artistic criticism is completely useless. It can't offer any improvements beyond the subjective, and should only be considered valid by the filmmakers if the filmmakers themselves aren't entirely sure they enjoy the movie in question.
 
maybe i'm unclear as to how you define "artistic" vs "technical" critique. based on your two bologna critiques (thanks for going with the sandwich choice btw) it seems that you define "artistic critique" as any sort of opinion with unclear support, whereas in your "technical" example, your critic gives examples and reasons. with this, i agree, i wouldn't value a review of my work that is only comprised of opinions without argument, but a critique, with reasons about higher quality bologna, yeah i take that argument because it's backed with logic. if this is more of the case, i think your argument should be "review" or "opinion" vs "criticism," in this case, i agree fully. read the first sentence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism

if this is not the case, let me expand the sandwich analogy: let's say i went with Wonderbread, Kraft Singles, and Oscar Meyer (my camera, audio, and actors), i made these film sandwich decisions deliberately to convey a down and out, struggling to get by, sandwich story. but my critic says: "why Oscar Meyer? this sandwich story would have been so much better told with SPAM, SPAM has a much more negative connotation than Oscar Meyer, and your down and out story would have been better conveyed." Yes, my imaginary critic is criticizing a technical aspect of my film sandwich, but it was still a critique of an artistic decision that i made based on my opinion of SPAM vs. Oscar Meyer. you see, all formal, or technical, aspects of a film are directly related to artistic decisions made by the creator

i hope this expansion of the sandwich analogy goes far enough to explain myself, without beating the dead sandwich horse

If I believe it's good, why would I care if someone doesn't like it?

you don't have to. but i'm very much of the persuasion that films are made by collective efforts and creativity, if i'm to deny a solidly backed critique solely because i think my film is good, i'm eliminating his part of the collective, his creativity, his contribution. i want to make great films, so as a service to myself, i have to consider the well backed opinions of others to improve my future work. of course i'm not going to go back and change it, i doubt anyone would, but do i watch old creations of mine and say, "well, this could have been better, and my friend was right, that specific decision didn't work," uh...YEAH! sometimes reviewers and critics make good points, do they offer solutions in their public reviews? generally no. if i'm speaking with a person who just watched my film, it's easy to ask "what could i have done better? how, why?" and take that into consideration for my next project

yes thesis + antithesis = synthesis is only a theory, but a pretty well backed one with application in film. i recommend beginning with Hegel, then explore Soviet Film Theory, look at Pudovkin, and especially Eisenstein.

i wont really go into your Shawshank example because it's so surface level, there is no critique of "how" or "why," there's no discussion. so yeah, if two people just say, "it was good," "it was bad," over and over, it's gonna be some "nu uh," "uh huh" shit, but that's not film theory or critique in the least

i now think our disagreement originated over some unclear language, or at least i hope so. personally, i get little from positive reviews, they're pleasant to hear, especially when people point out specific decisions and why they worked in their opinions. but other than that, i'm learning little from them, i'd take 10 well argued critiques for every one positive comment. plus that tells me i'm engaging my viewers in a dynamic way and bringing film or cultural critiques into discussion, not to mention helping me improve.
 
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Listen to critique. Remember it later when the emotional edge of attachment is less sharp.
See what you can learn from it.
Be honest to yourself: is it a usefull critique or not?

Getting negative remarks can be harsh, but usefull.
It takes a thick skin sometimes to take it.

If you think you did the best you could, there are 2 possibilities:
- you didn't know yet what you know now, meaning you would have done things differently
- you actually did do the best job possible in the time you had with the means available to you.

Anyway: learn to deal with it rationally.
Dismissing it in arrogance or wanting to kill yourself in dispair are both too extreme emotional reactions.
 
I think we should brace ourselves for "this is stupid" "this is garbage".

If a guy has only been learning guitar for 1 year and he tries his own solo (or whatever) people are probably going to say this sucks since the competition are guys who have been practicing all their life, etc. They're accustomed to listening to great material not learning material.

I'm working on an outline to a teen drama type murder mystery and I'm trying to work with pride and believe i can pull it off. I also work with a forced smile and tears in my eyes thinking "what if this idea is fucking stupid and i ended up putting all this effort and brain storming in just for most people to say this is shit, this is boring".

lmao
 
Anything you make, of course you have a personal attachment to. So it's difficult when people criticize.

Here's what I do:
I smile. In my head, I tell their whole family to f off. And like Walter said, after the emotional sting wears off, I take the "technical" criticism into consideration. But I'm with Mussonman. Artistic criticism is completely useless. Most of the time, it's people showing off. At least, that's how I feel.

Watch the movie Birdman. Watch Keaton's interaction with the critic near the end of the movie. It's the best f'ing scene from the filmmaker's point of view ever.
 
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maybe i'm unclear as to how you define "artistic" vs "technical" critique. based on your two bologna critiques (thanks for going with the sandwich choice btw) it seems that you define "artistic critique" as any sort of opinion with unclear support, whereas in your "technical" example, your critic gives examples and reasons.

By artistic, I mean any criticism, even if meant to be constructive, that is toward the dialogue, the story, the characters, the jokes, the camera angles, the color. Any criticism that is purely subjective.

Technical criticism would be something like "this movie's aspect ratio is off by a little bit." Or "If this were shot on a Red Epic, it would look more professional" or "shouldn't those subtitles be in English?" Anything that is beneficial to actually making the movie, not commenting on the content the movie provides.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E7ZwyRY_1g

This is a good example of how to deal with criticism. The example is geared towards writing, but filmmaking can apply as well. I think that you have to get criticism from people who know what they are talking about though as oppose to JUST everyone else ONLY.

There is one guy I know who doesn't take any criticism from anyone and just says F off to everyone, but in my opinion, that is not the way to go all the time.
 
By artistic, I mean any criticism, even if meant to be constructive, that is toward the dialogue, the story, the characters, the jokes, the camera angles, the color. Any criticism that is purely subjective.

Technical criticism would be something like "this movie's aspect ratio is off by a little bit." Or "If this were shot on a Red Epic, it would look more professional" or "shouldn't those subtitles be in English?" Anything that is beneficial to actually making the movie, not commenting on the content the movie provides.



I think this is far too harsh an attempted distinction. You seem intent on disregarding screenwriting, story, structure, dialogue etc as purely handwavey abstract artistic choices, when actually there are valid, useful technical objective criticisms you can make of story, structure, dialogue etc.

It's a nice idea that creative choices are purely subjective and beyond valid criticism, but that's a surefire way to never, ever improve your filmmaking. It's a way to go, I guess.
 
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