Advice from Top YouTube Filmmakers: the Value of Feedback

Feedback can be the key to amping up the quality of your content from good to great. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of outside perspective. At Critiqr we reached out to some top YouTube filmmakers who specialize in creating informative and inspiring filmmaking content. Here are some of their thoughts on the value of feedback.

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Subscribers: 830,000

“The more honest people are, the better it helps me. Everyone loves positive feedback, but on YouTube you also read the very negative comments. Instead of getting angry about that, I always wonder: “There’s a reason that person reacts like that! How can I improve?”. Even if that is a comment full with swear words.

Understand what they [the audience] like and what they don’t like. If you can adapt your content and style to that, you can grow much faster in your work.”

Justin Odisho

Subscribers: 577,000

“The most critical feedback has usually come from my self taking a deep look at my content, but also having a large audience helps me notice trends and analyze repeating comments. I think constructive criticism of a trustworthy few is very important.”

The Film Look

Subscribers: 18,000

On a recent project we tried to go for a fancy silhouette shot. But it didn’t work. We loved the shot; it looked cool, it said a lot, but unfortunately it POPPED out of the screen. It broke immersion during the film. At first we brushed off the feedback we received about the shot, but we soon realized everyone who watched the film said it was THAT shot which took them out. It didn’t matter that it was a cool-looking fancy shot, it didn’t fit in the edit. Thankfully, we had the coverage to cut it and replace it with something which retained audience attention. Without that feedback, we might have caused the doom of the film with a single shot. The moral of the story? Don’t be precious about your shots! They might not work in the editing room.

Without critical feedback, there is no growth. If people don’t tell you they don’t like a certain aspect (hopefully included in the criticism is a solution to the problem) then you may make that mistake time and time again. Constructive criticism is one of the hardest things to hear as a beginner filmmaker, but listening to it and making decisions from it, is one of the best skills you can have in your tool belt. Films are for the audience. You want to make something which people want to pay for, watch, and enjoy, and hopefully come back when they hear “Hey did you know this film is directed by that guy/girl who did that awesome movie last year?”

Zach Ramelan

Subscribers: 52,000

“Like anything in life moderation is key, especially when it comes to criticism. I believe that criticism can truly have a positive impact if you follow two steps. Step 1, Be sure to take it from the right people Step 2, DON’T OBSESS OVER IT! Criticism has acted as the fundamental tool that has shaped me into the storyteller I am today. We are nothing without perspective, the right criticism from the right people provide the guidance we need to get on the right path.”

Basic Filmmaker

Subscribers: 69,000

“In a British voice, “In the end, it’s what you think, and everyone else can just bugger off.” LOL! That was it. Constructive criticism can be great, as long as it is not destructive criticism trying to hide itself in a cloaking field to pass itself off as constructive. You can drive yourself around the bend listening to others. I think the missing ingredient is taking a critique and evaluating it fully before using it. 1.) Is it actually constructive? 2.) Does the critique add value to the project? 3.) Is it of such value that it should be used? If not, pitch it.

When it was constructive, it helped change otherwise mediocre projects into stellar properties. The key thing to ask is, “WHO is giving the constructive criticism?” You take some man or woman who have been divorced a couple of times, and they’re going to give me advice on my marriage? I don’t think so. When someone solid who has obviously and continuously created better properties than I have mentions a value added critique, I’ll surely listen. Otherwise, for better or worse, it gets filed in the trash bin. Those are the people I listen to, and those are the people who have helped me immensely. Plus, they’re usually so good, you never know it’s criticism.”

Brandon Washington

Subscribers: 15,000

“Just because you are proud of your work doesn’t mean that it’s good. Keep working at your craft till it’s great. It [feedback] has definitely made me a better filmmaker who tries to see things from other people’s perspective. I try to guess what problems would someone else have with my videos before I finish them.”

Kira Bursky / CEO of Critiqr

Subscribers: 20,000

“Sometimes the most helpful feedback can be the hardest to hear. When I reflect back on my filmmaking journey there is one piece of advice that has helped me most (and yes, it’s clichĂ©): “kill your darlings.” I remember when I made my high school junior year thesis film Girly, there was one scene I had written that just seemed to fall flat in the actual film. The feedback I was given: “consider cutting the whole scene out.” Naturally, I felt very resistant to this. I was attached to the idea of the scene. In actuality, the execution and delivery of the scene ended up taking away from the overall film. I realized, we must look ourselves in the eyes and ask, “Am I in denial? Does this serve the story or does this detract from the story?” Outside perspective allows us to confront the reality of how our vision is being received.

For any filmmakers looking for feedback on their own short films, music videos, etc., check out my new free mobile app Critiqr! I’d love to check out what you are working on!”

Critiqr: a free mobile app connecting filmmakers to feedback.
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