Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why We Don't Like to Give Feedback

We often get people asking us for feedback about why we've rejected their movie.

In the past, we were more than happy to. We would write up detailed notes about what we thought worked in the film and what didn't. We'd offer helpful suggestions. We'd even rewatch the submission if necessary to make sure our feedback was thorough and helpful. We would take a significant amount of time formulating a detailed critique, and an honest, in depth, yet diplomatic email response.

Our mission as a festival has always been to create the type of festival - and the type of community - we would like to be part of. And, we figured, if filmmakers took the time and effort to make a film and spend the money on a submission fee, if they didn't get into the festival they at least deserved to get something positive out of the experience. So we felt obligated to give them feedback.

And what happened?

Nearly every time we gave feedback, the filmmaker responded, contesting our notes, sometimes point by point. The truth is, people who ask us for feedback never really want it. They just want us to explain why, although their movie is a work of genius, it doesn't fit into our lineup. Or they want us to reconsider our decision.

So why bother? We're not actually helping these filmmakers get better at their work, we're just spending a lot of time on a lost cause.

The Village Voice published a very interesting article about this issue this week. You can read it here. The author gets this right. And the comments are hilarious!

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