Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Things I've learned from criticism

Being that I am a film critic myself, I like to get tough criticism on my own films. I am my own worst critic for sure. I can tell you that none of my films EVER will make it on my Favorites List. Incase I haven't mentioned it yet, I have a giant list of my favorite films. None of my films will ever make it on there because I will always know the flaws of them. If one of my films could make it on my own list, I would die very happy. This to me will keep me making films for the rest of my life. I will always think of where I can improve. One might think this would be a depressing thought. However, it actually keeps me going, that there is always room for improvement. I currently have 121 films on my Favorites List (and growing).

My criticism of a movie to consider it a favorite is that it has to evoke an emotion from it's audience (especially if they are resisting this emotion and it happens anyways), it needs to have no questions asked (no cliffhangers (unless they work)and no misunderstandings), It has to be a movie that I would want to see again and if I see it again I either get a new feeling overtime or the same enjoyment with out degradation. For some of my favorite movies I laugh every time I watch it no matter what, I cry at least the first time I watch it (it's very hard to make it on my favorites list as a drama), It's extremely different/creative and there's no other that compares to it and for some of them I just enjoyed as a child and they stick with me forever.

When watching my films I try to pay attention to extreme detail. Then when I move on to a new film (after the criticism of my previous) I really concentrait on improving the things that failed last time. It's almost like studying for a test, you write down all the material you need to know and you go through each thing and cross off the things you already know by heart, and then you study the things you're not confident on.

Perhaps to answer what this most recent project; the one shot film with rotation of jobs, it's about fully expanding yourself in order to say you have done each of those jobs. It's about strengthening your weaknesses. No one is going to be "perfect" in everyone's eyes but I would like to come as close as I can to making my self the best film maker I can be. This unfortunately initials being uncomfortable. I'd like to thank all of those that have worked with me in my learning experiences especially in this project where you had to sacrifice having the best people do the job I was assigned to do, you may not have gotten the best aspect of that part of your film but I'm glad you allowed me to have that experience in learning. To me it is the best way of learning is just simply by doing. We as children learned how to read more by reading with someone. We learned to play video games on our own. We learned how to use a computer by seeking out and playing around. I think that is what we are best at and we learned these things by simply doing them. I can think of a few things I learned how to do on my own just by playing around, one is how to play the guitar, another is how to use a cell phone, how to use my ipod (not all of it's features, but most). If I can learn how to basically do something then I can survive in this business.

Some of the weaknesses in my own films/films I've worked on (not even my own mistakes but others as well) are very big key things I needed to learn in order to be a film maker. One of the first things I learned in criticism of film is that you need to pay attention to continuity. It's very important to keeping your audience interested in the story.
Another thing I learned was that in certain cameras, horizontal close lines or white/light colors can mess up the vision of the camera by blowing out the color by the light or by creating a crazy moving pattern on someone's shirt or a couch.
I've also learned how to tone down an actor or actress.
How to give the shot the time it needs.
I learned early in my career that the use of a tripod can make a world of difference when you want to real critics to take you seriously. I had a DP once who flat out refused to use a tripod for the longest time. I eventually replaced him because he was lazy. After that I made sure my DP's were comfortable using a tripod before I assigned them to the job.
I learned in my scripting class last year how to write effectively with no dialogue let alone too much. It's one of the hardest things to master because you really dont know if your audience will get what you're trying to say. You're literally trying to play charades with a mass amount of people who will never see you personally.
Through this project so far I've learned how important it is to keep as many options as possible and try them all if you can, keeping it within reason and being time aware.
Also It's good to get things done in a timely manor as long as it doesn't hurt creativity. The best way I found out how to do this is by rehearsing a bunch times and planning your butt off for the shoot.
Being over prepared is a great thing. Keeping your crew fed and alive is a wonderful thing.
Another thing I try to always do for a shoot is research realistic situations. For last years project White Lights I researched a lot about people's out of body experiences and the similar things between each story including the biggest thing I noticed was that they all described a white light. Hense, the name of my film being White Lights.

Criticism is very important in growing if you want to be the best film maker you have to make more films than anyone else and you have to absorb the toughest critics so that you can learn and grow from your past. That's what we're all paying the big bucks for here at Ithaca.

So now, Keep calm and watch some movie mistakes where people still made billions!

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