We all have “yes” people around us. They tell us what they think we want to hear. They offer praise but no criticism. We must have the criticism from trusted people to improve our craft. The best way to receive this criticism is to have a few “no” people on your team.
You must find these people to surround yourself with. They must have your best interest at heart and tell you what you need to hear. These “no” people will end up being the most important people on your team. When you ask them for advice or criticism they will tell you the truth, and hopefully know how to deliver it without too much drama or pain. They don’t need to be in the film industry either, sometimes if they don’t know how to make a film, you know their advice is genuine.
As a director I have to make many crucial decisions: cutting a scene, changing character, adding the right props to the story and choosing the best music. Through it all, I need real criticism. Trusted criticism. I need the “no” people to help me see the film with fresh eyes. I need the “no” people to tell me how they really see the film. I also need to be able to hear what they have to tell me.
Hearing real criticism isn’t easy. Listening to them with an open mind is crucial, and putting your ego aside is a must. It takes a while to know how to accept their words but if you allow your “no” people in they will push you to open your mind to see new ways to deliver your story. They will open you up to try new approaches to communicate with your audience, and they will push you to be a better director.
When they tell you about what they think, don’t try to justify your choices, just listen. Take notes. Let what they say stay with you a while. When you have a clear head, go back to the story, by yourself, and see if their advice works. Allow yourself to see the story the way they did. Allow yourself to notice any flaws. Allow yourself to take their advice to improve your film.
It’s great to hear the praise, but it’s better to listen to the criticism.