Growth through Critique: 10 Tips for Giving and Receiving Constructive Feedback

Growth through Critique: 10 Tips for Giving and Receiving Constructive Feedback

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When feedback is lacking

artsmith's picture

Some years ago, at the invitation of a member, I joined a video-club. The purpose of such groups, to my way of thinking had been that of a pooling of resources to overcome problems, so I had, on more than one occasion taken along footage representing 'work-in-progress' to invite feedback which might have been helpful to me. That however had anything but the desired effect, as nothing remotely negative was ever forthcoming. When I had done something particularly well, there was gushing and effusive approval, but no criticism, despite the fact that I felt that in places it would have been well justified. The club's activities revolved around a competition, which I felt to be as pointless as my one-time lowly ranking on my tennis club's 'B-Grade' ladder. Realising that club would be forever fixated on a very limited range of concerns, and internalise every aspect of video creation as if it was an art not practised outside their club venue on meeting nights, I quit.

However, occasionally I go to the club's blog-site just to see what is going on, to find that members are still producing 'stunning' shots, (in their way of it) and effusive praise follows every achievement no matter how minor. In reality it is like a step backwards to the beginning of the millennium, with I would image, most of its members still working in SD. Intelligent criticism fairly directed and delivered is what provides movie-makers with an incentive to do better. If given and received in the right spirit it may be a tremendous spur to greater achievement. As an antidote to working in isolation, I began a weekly newsletter given to discussion of aspects of film-making. I invited members of the video club to become subscribers, but on the advice of, I suspect, of an old-guard with deeply entrenched ideas, only a handful saw fit to do so. Meanwhile I am about to begin shooting in a 'Log' format in 4K in order to obtain better image quality for delivery in High Definition. My early efforts in SD, occupying more than 80 4.7gB DVD's I can no longer bear to look at anymore. As for being too old to change my ways; I turned 81 yesterday. I remain unrepentant about any part of it. My only misgiving upon asking those who receive my weekly news-letter to 'criticise the hell out of what I have done', is that I receive so little feedback. Only by constant objective re-assessment and appraisal of what we are doing, can we improve, and if I cannot do that myself with true objectivity, I welcome feedback from others, negative or not.

Great article by-the-way.

Ian Smith
Dunedin, New Zealand