Criticism is a natural byproduct of making one’s work, efforts, available for public scrutiny. If you are a creative artist of any kind, be it writing, painting or drawing, film or sculpture, the only way you can hope to make a living off of your talents or passion is to draw attention to it. These days, every artist, of any description, has an online presence.
Visual artist especially, still tend to have their own websites, a hub where all of their works can be viewed in one place. For the true millennial generation, those who don’t know that the Twitter one hundred and forty character format is the maximum amount you used to be able to text by phone, the building of a dedicated website is pointless. Why would you build a website when you can get just as much traffic – if not more – through existing platforms that everyone is already familiar with.
With the exception of Instagram, on social media platforms, you can link to other webpages where your work can be more fully appreciated or purchased, or more information gained or any number of options. Linking creates a doable action, unlike the passivity of browsing a website.
Join a group on Facebook or a discussion on Twitter, gain a following on WordPress or views on YouTube, your name is out there known by the masses. So anytime you produce a new work or write something it is available for scrutiny. What about when you actually want some helpful critiques, what happens then? Nobody likes to be criticised, no matter how well meaning the criticism is. If your work is at a stage where you feel it can be shown to the world, a caustic critique of said work, true or not, will not be appreciated.
There is always a horrible dilemma when watching the work of a new filmmaker, one does not want to suppress their enthusiasm, yet still, there are fundamental mistakes that should be pointed out. Technical stuff is easily correctable and can be excused when it comes to the inexperienced, but there are aspects that are harder to ignore.
With so many tutorials and blogs, information and behind-the-scenes videos about filmmaking and the creative process, it seems inconceivable that anyone new to the filmmaking process would make rookie errors. Of course, being rookies, they make rookie errors. Scenes are flat or run too long, they look stagey, very little movement, just the camera pointing at people talking or, the worse thing, the actors are not very good.
I recently watched a short film – it was more a scene – where the filmmaker had posted the work for a competition and asked people in the group to watch it. Wanting to like it – I always want to like it – and wanting to support the efforts of any fellow fledgeling filmmaker, I clicked the link to give it a watch, after all, it was only three minutes long. Unfortunately, the acting was wooden and the story pretty much nonexistent, though it was nicely shot.
Even as I write the words, disparaging another filmmakers work, I feel like a condescending prick, having not put anything or any relevance out into the world myself in some years. The dichotomy of being both a film critic and filmmaker is not lost on me. Still, I am torn when it comes to criticising another’s work. Should one’s critique be truthful, explaining every dislike and point of contention? After all, it is just my opinion that said actors are not particularly good, others may view the same film and like the – in my opinion – stilted performances.
Does one say, no matter how well-meaning, if another person’s work is not up to scratch? And what qualifies a person to be a relevant critic? Knowing what is good is arbitrary, a view different from person to person. One person’s love of Citizen Kane does not make them the doyen of good taste and judgement. What is good or not is entirely down to the viewer, that is why films that critics have hated sometimes become massive hits and films that they have loved have gone down the pan. Nobody knows anything.
I suppose one just has to make what one likes and hope others like it, it is all anybody can do.