It’s been a few years but I finally got up the gumption to enter a couple of my short films in the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival.
If you know me, I’m not only my own worst critic but I hate promoting my own work and bringing any kind of attention upon myself. So, I quietly entered two films, “The Standing People” and “An Iowa Morning“.
I’m always a little nervous when I see the email from the festival. I know it’s either a congratulations, your film was selected or a we’re sorry but your film didn’t make the cut this year.
I thought “An Iowa Morning” had a chance to get in since it was along the vein of what I had in the festival in previous years.
“The Standing People” was more of an outside chance. It was done for UWOL an international film challenge that I participate in. This particular challenge was a charity challenge and when that film won, Last Hope Animal Rescue had over $400 donated to help animals in need find new homes.
Double clicking on the email, my heart skipped a beat as I read that both films were official selections of CRIFF.
The festival was fantastic and it was nice to be surrounded by so much passion for filmmaking.
To make along story short so I can get to the heart of why I’m writing this, the films swept their category, not only winning the Silver Eddy award but the Gold Eddy as well.
This post isn’t about tooting my horn that I won. If you know me, you know that’s the furthest thing from my mind. The purpose of this post is to talk about perspective.
As filmmakers it doesn’t matter if you like to make horror films or nature and wildlife films. What matters is that you have passion. I haven’t met a filmmaker yet that wasn’t passionate about their films and the story that they tell.
Passion however can cause you to lose your objectivity and I think when you lose your objectivity you stop growing as a filmmaker.
The thing I love about the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival is there is a judges critique the Sunday after the festival ends.
What is so special about CRIFF’s critiques is that you can sign up for one even if your film wasn’t selected to screen at the festival.
Think about that for a moment. Even if your film is rejected, you have an opportunity to meet with the judges and find out why it didn’t make the cut.
So Why Is That Important?
An outside critique is a great way to get perspective on your film from people who don’t know you or have any reason to sugar coat their thoughts about your film.
Think about it, do you really think a significant other or friend is going to pick apart you film and be brutally honest? They may share what they thought didn’t work so well from them but are they really going to give you the raw truth?
It’s Not About Knocking You Down
A film critique isn’t about knocking you or your film down. It’s about people’s thoughts about what you can do to grow as a filmmaker. You may not always agree with what they have to say but it’s important to realize that if they feel that way about your film, others probably do too.
A good critique will not only tell you what didn’t work or needs improvement. It will also let you know what worked and what you should keep on doing.
A film critique by a panel of judges shouldn’t be one-sided. You should ask questions. What did they like best about the film, what was their favorite shot, what was their least favorite. This is your opportunity to get feedback, don’t be afraid to ask them what you want to know to become a better filmmaker.
Next time you have an opportunity to have your work critiqued, take it. I pretty much guarantee that if you are open to other people’s feedback you will walk away with a plan to take your nature and wildlife films to the next level.
And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!