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#1 G McMahon

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 07:34 AM

Hello all,

I just finished watching a friends feature. Yet to speak to him about his work. I have a big character flaw that I cannot be dishonest, and I am as tactful as a bad simile. How do you tell your friend that he has done better work? Do you ask him about the problems of the production? May have it been the projection? Restrictions of gear/ budget? I know that cameramen are not fragile people but since this forum exists what?s the harm in getting some input?

Thanks
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 10:12 AM

You're having dinner at a friends house and his wife has cooked a huge meal. To you it tastes awful, and your hostess asks you, "so how do you like it?" Your response is?

R,
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#3 Stephen Williams

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 10:20 AM

You're having dinner at a friends house and his wife has cooked a huge meal. To you it tastes awful, and your hostess asks you, "so how do you like it?" Your response is?

R,


"The wine is great, where did you get it?"

Stephen
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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 11:18 AM

Very diplomatic Stephen, hopefully that would side track your hosts enough :)

R,
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#5 Alexandre Lucena

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 11:27 AM

If your friend is wise enough he will accept critiques whole heartedly. Remember a kite only climbs
against the wind.

Alexandre
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 11:54 AM

If your friend has any future in filmmaking, he has a much harder skin than you can pierce by telling him what you really think about the film.
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#7 Kim Vickers

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 12:27 PM

If he's truly a "friend" you tell him what you think. If he's more of a "professional associate" you tell him what he wants to hear.

Edited by Kim Vickers, 19 July 2006 - 12:28 PM.

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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 04:38 PM

"The wine is great, where did you get it?"

Stephen

That is basically what I was going to say. Try to find something good about his work. I'm sure it's not all bad. So if there is a particular shot or sequence that you like, point it out to him. And if he asks specifically about things you didn't like you can always tell him that it's not your taste. You don't have to come out and say, "I don't like it".
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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 05:53 PM

That is basically what I was going to say. Try to find something good about his work. I'm sure it's not all bad. So if there is a particular shot or sequence that you like, point it out to him. And if he asks specifically about things you didn't like you can always tell him that it's not your taste. You don't have to come out and say, "I don't like it".


I know script writers want to hear the bits that work and don't work during the development. It's not taken as personal.

However, directors can take it as personal, although sometimes they already know the bits that don't really work, but just don't want to admit it while still close to the project.

Comment on the good bits, however, if they want to hear the bits you don't like, go into it in carefully considered detail, so that it's useful feedback. It does have to be done in a positive manner.

However, best not getting into this unless you know the director really well.
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#10 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 11:35 PM

Hello all,

I just finished watching a friends feature. Yet to speak to him about his work. I have a big character flaw that I cannot be dishonest, and I am as tactful as a bad simile. How do you tell your friend that he has done better work? Do you ask him about the problems of the production? May have it been the projection? Restrictions of gear/ budget? I know that cameramen are not fragile people but since this forum exists what?s the harm in getting some input?

Thanks


I look at the concept of critique this way: it's really only useful if you can do something about it. If the film is finished and ready to be sold to the public, there's no point in beating a dead horse. If you're watching dailies, then you can say something like, "I'm curious about what you did in that shot. Can you tell me how you lit it?" That opens the door for him to tell you what happened that day which opens the door for you to offer suggestions. I suppose the same tactic works after the movie is wrapped too. That way you can offer tactful suggestions or solutions for the next time.

Unless the DP is just plain bad, the more likely cause of bad shots is that the paremeters of that moment didn't allow for what he really wanted to do. Only big time DPs are allowed to put their foot down and refuse to push the "on" button. The rest of us do what we can with what we have and invest our energy into the few shots that really are important.

To answer your last question more directly, there is no inherent harm in input, but some people aren't mature enough to take criticism even when it's offered constructively. There's not much you can do about that beyond being as tactful as possible. The only "harm" comes in how they respond which is a result of what the state of their ego is. Sometimes it's better to not say anything at all. Just smile and say nothing. :)
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#11 G McMahon

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 10:35 AM

Thanks everyone,

It?s an ugly area to get into. I guess your head is always on the cutting block as a cameraman as the audience never sees whats going on outside the frame to make whats going on inside the frame. Leads to another question, has anyone ever heard of a production designer copping flack for bad images?
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#12 Tom Bays

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 01:22 PM

Just talk to him and since he is your friend he should tell you about all his problems. That is what people do. Has he told you...my god this is brilliant? Can things be fixed in post, meaning is there a need for immediate feedback from you?

Don't cause problems because of you own character flaws :) Let the time happen. Don't force it.
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#13 Michael Nash

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 02:17 PM

It depends on how close you are to your friend, and how open you think you can be (how well he'll take constructive crticism). When I see something like this I start asking questions about what they were trying to achieve with certain techniques and why they made certain choices. Sometimes that will reveal if they faced any difficult challenges or compromises, or if they had a good idea but simply fell short in execution. Through discussion both of you can come to a better undertanding and even appreciation of he other's ideas.

The main thing though is that it puts you two on equal ground -- instead of you "judging" their work, you're admitting you don't undertand and they can then explain. Sometimes they're right! :P
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#14 Joe Taylor

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 08:04 PM

Follow Oliver Stone's critque of his DP's past work when hiring him for "World Trade Center." Told him flat it was "bad" but he sensed potential. Check out the new American Cinematogrpher for story. I'm good friends with Stone's personal assistant. She say's he's a real swell and pleasent :angry: guy to work for. <_<
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#15 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 01:28 AM

Just don't say something like "That sucked!" and leave it at that. If it's bad tell him why you feel it's bad and how he could have improved it. You don't have to lie about the way you feel or sugar coat the truth but you also don't have to be an ass about it either. Most people respect CONSTRUCTIVE critizium and if he wants to make a living at this he has to know when what he's done doesn't work and more importantly WHY it doesn't work. Also let him know it's not personal, that what your saying isn't directed at HIM personally, but at the problems you had with this particular piece or at an on going problems you see in his work in general. If he's the kind of person that can't take critizium then it's probably best to avoid the subject altogether. Sometimes discression is the better part of valor. B)
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#16 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 05:57 PM

One thing I've always respected and appreciated about our field is the honesty and exchange of ideas and opinions between most Cinematographers. We tend to be a group that likes to share information and discoveries (rather than closely guard our "secrets recipes"). While I was at AFI, the best 3 hours of every week was having Bill Dill, ASC tear through our films shot by shot - he was bluntly honest and made no attempt to sugar-coat things, but he was also making correct and intelligent observations; rather than a flat out "That's bad", he'd explain why something didn't work and then offer suggestions and ways to have done it better, or open it up to an exchange of ideas. It was the best way to learn and that's what makes him a brilliant teacher.

Emmanuel Lubezki speaking about Conrad Hall (AC, May 2003): "He later came to see dailies, and he disliked the scene very much. He was very disappointed with the way I'd set the aperature for the scene. He was very honest, and that's what was great about him. Other Cinematographers will often say, "Oh, everything's beautiful," because they don't want to be confrontational. Connie and I became friends after that."

I suppose I'm saying (and it's just my opinion), be honest, but fair with him. Tell him what works, tell him what falls short (and talk about why he made those decisions and what specifically doesn't work and other things he might have done), and listen. If he's a professional and your friend, he'll respect and appreciate you being straight with him.

My roommate is a close friend and a Cinematographer as well - we constantly screen our reels for each other and sometimes it's tough to hear "No, that doesn't work" after you've been killing yourself over it, but it's a hell of a lot better to have someone trusted say it than to have an employer or potential employer say much worse.
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#17 Dan Goulder

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 06:22 PM

How do you tell your friend that he has done better work?

That in itself is a compliment.

If you're analyzing an entire feature, there must be some shots that worked (or else this guy should be in a different field altogether). Assuming there are, you can start by telling him what you liked. Then, if you care about your friend enough to want to be helpful, you can point out where things could have been done to greater effect.
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