Monday, March 15, 2010

"How to Win Friends and Influence People": The Indie Filmmaker Edition PART 2

I feel that I am a very blessed individual. Two things I love more than anything in the world are horror movies, and supporting local and independent artists. I am blessed because through this blog and, I can combine the two of them. Nothing gives me a greater feeling than supporting absolutely amazing and breathtaking films from independent film makers. The reaction I get out of that glistening review from an anticipating filmmaker makes the work I do for these sites feel worthwhile. Yet, not every film can be a good film. I want my readers to trust and respect me for standing up for what I believe in, even if I'm standing alone. There are films that I do not like, and I think keeping negative opinions to myself is betraying my readers. They deserve to know my opinions; both good and bad.

So say you make a film, you send it to a blogger or another film reviewer and you were absolutely wonderful. You didn't bully them, you were very respectful, and you let them do their thing. Unfortunately, they didn't particularly like what you were creating. Now what? Do you mope around? Do you cry? Do you bash the hell out of the reviewer and refuse to go back to their site? OF COURSE NOT! So here is a little guide to help you learn how to move on from the negative review.
The first suggestion I have when dealing with a negative review is to not let it consume you. If every filmmaker broke down over a bad review of their film, no one would make movies anymore. Hell, The Godfather and Star Wars didn't get all great reviews. I'm very sympathetic because a film becomes sort of like your baby, and when someone talks crap about feels like a personal attack. When people talk badly about DotW I get super defensive and a bit hurt too. What you need to realize is that criticism on your film isn't meant to be a personal attack, it's supposed to let you know what isn't working with the flick. I've seen plenty of filmmakers fall apart and sink into a grave depression when their film flops. The same way letting good reviews get to your head isn't a good thing, neither is letting the bad ones tear you down. It's also important to be able to distinguish between a negative review, and a jerk. There are bloggers who simply love to rip apart films and give absolutely nothing for you to work with. I'm sure you've seen them before. "This film is a giant circle jerk between the filmmaker and distributor..." "This film is trash..." "James Cameron's Avatar..." you know the drill. Now you can approach this sort of a review in one of two ways. The first way is to email the reviewer personally and ask (politely of course) for more constructive criticism. Chances are, the reviewer isn't that much of an asshole, it's just the persona created for their site. If you approach it professionally, you will most likely get some tips from the reviewer on things the film could improve on. The second option, is to completely ignore it. Sometimes, people ARE huge douchebags and want to just rip independent films a new one because that's how they roll. So, just let it go and wait patiently for a review you can actually work with.
The last bit of advice I can give, is to learn from it. When negative criticism is given, it is to help you for next time. Hopefully this isn't the last film you ever make and the negative feedback can be used to help your next film. So we didn't like your actors? Cast different ones. We didn't like your lighting? Try another one. We felt the pacing was off? Fix it. There are plenty of film makers who make a really crappy film and then progress to make a really amazing film. Practice makes perfect, film making included. :) The important thing is to actually listen to some of the criticism. Try to put pride aside and attempt to see if the reviewer actually has a point. Ya dig?

Thank-you for tuning into the second episode of "How to Win Friends and Influence People": The Indie Filmmaker Edition. Come back soon enough for the rest of the guide and you'll be the best repped indie filmmaker in all the land!

5 comment(s):

Pax Romano said...

Hey, Norma Rae, you need to be the President of the UIHB. You got moxie, kid!

Sean - Gay of the Dead said...

Kiddo - as a filmmaker I'll say this all makes sense. But tread lightly - the one person a filmmaker doesn't want to tell them to chill out about reviews is a reviewer. Remember - even the shittiest film can takes months to complete, and a review can take minutes. Most of us don't love our 6 months of hard work summarized in two paragraphs. We take is as part of the game that is filmmaking, because that's just how it goes, but any lecture from a critic/blogger could be countered by a filmmaker on how to review films. And nobody wants to hear about how filmmakers want reviewers to do their jobs...

BJ Colangelo said...

@Sean-I'd actually love to hear from a filmmaker what they're looking for in a review. I think it would help me become a better reviewer if I had an idea what they were looking to hear from me. I know what I'm looking for as a viewer, but I'm not a I don't know what to look for on their end. The boyfriend is slowly teaching me and I think my reviews are improving. The only reason I started this series is because of the personal experience I have with working with indie filmmakers. I've been harassed for giving bad reviews, sent 18 emails within a week because I haven't reviewed a film yet, been bashed because I didn't enjoy the film, and it's really annoying. I'm also going to touch on proper film festival etiquette. I've seen filmmakers leave after their films have shown, leave in the middle of other films, show up late to their own films, and then expect reviewers to stay after festivals for a private viewing when the filmmaker is the one who showed up late. What should be common sense, really isn't. I've gotten a lot of emails from filmmakers who have thanked me for this idea and I'm trying to tread as light as possible while still being helpful.

oducerproducer said...

Reviews didn't break Tommy Wiseau, he still shows up to midnight screenings of The Room, audience members tell him how bad it is, he doesn't care. So as another filmmaker let me say if i got a bad review, it might not be my demographic, but if it was a bad review from my demographic, then just open your mind and think of yourself in their shoes, as a fan not a director. I'm not saying to change your film for others but you might want to take a different approach with your next film.

Sean Springett said...

These two entries were some great reads. Really insightful.

Granted, the blog I "run" isn't really anything special. Just something I can use as an outlet for my Horror Movie Reviews as well as the occasional Random Thought on something Horror related. It's a great outlet to have, being a Horror fan ever since I was a kid, it's nice to put my knowledge and love for something together at a site.

Granted, I started mine back in January, so it's nothing really special, but I'm not really looking for it to become big or anything. Sure, that'd be nice and all, but I'm merely just expressing my opinions there, and maybe someone agrees with what I say. Who knows?

Keep up the good work, BJ-C!

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