But being told only positive things isn’t going to help us grow. Norman Vincent Peale is famous for saying “The problem with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism”. That shallow desire for positive reinforcement is tempting, but it’s not helping us improve our work.
This is where constructive criticism comes in. As opposed to generic feedback, constructive criticism should contain helpful and specific suggestions for improvement and positive change.
Someone might rip your film to shreds. But if they give you alternatives, suggestions, different ways of execution, better ways of creating, you can take all that advice and apply it into your next film.
Personally, I love getting my film ripped to shreds. I want people to pick at it and destroy it, and from that destruction I can finally see the faults which I wouldn’t have noticed if people weren’t so aggressively helpful with their feedback.
But there is a difference between feedback for improvement and someone’s personal taste. Not everyone likes the same things, and sometimes a few suggestions based on their taste can be thrown in.
If you like something in your film, if you feel that certain element is crucial to your project and that changing it will change the film…then fight for it. It’s your film after all, and if you can justify your reason for a certain element, that is your right as a filmmaker.
All of this applies when you are the one giving feedback too. Remember how it felt to have your film attacked. If you are giving criticism, give some examples of how it can be improved. And talk about what you DID like in someone else’s film.
Just because you are giving feedback, doesn’t mean you can’t praise the positives as well. It is quite often harder to do so because the positive elements are invisible in the film, but if you think “everything I see on screen has been crafted by individuals”, it can help put a spotlight on those invisible elements.
Feedback isn’t just at the premiere of the movie either. Having someone read your script and give their opinion will help you see things you might not realise were there/or weren’t there.
During shooting, you have a team of people around you, why not use those individual brains and ask them their opinions are on the day.
Sam Mendes says it plain and simple, “When you have a cast of 20, this means you have 20 other imaginations in the room with you. Use them.”,