How can a comp judge be helpful?

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Dave Watterson
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How can a comp judge be helpful?

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:25 pm

Entries have closed for the IAC International competition and judging will take place in the next few weeks. I know that some of the people on this forum will be judging!

For now let's forget the usual litany of complaints and focus on how judges can be helpful ... if they can.

Has anyone a real example of some comment or award which changed their film making life? And let's open it up to cover all levels of judging from the club competition upwards.

Over to you, the movie makers ...


Dave

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stingman
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Post by stingman » Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:21 pm

Hello Guys,
It`s gone a bit quite.
I have found that the more films I make the less I seem to get out of judges comments! When I first started I took them like the words from God. Now I don`t after some comments I received over a film I made when the judges got it wrong and didn`t even know the rules of the competition!
I look at judges comments like they are from more experienced public. I like to know what people think of my films so haveing people who know a bit about films helps.
I know i`m contradicting myself but I either agree with them or not! I take it on board and move on to my next film.
After all they are only another people who have an opinion.
I would like to be a judge because I love to watch films and my not quite yet be stereotyped on the sort of Ameature films I like to watch. Even The worse made films have something good in them. It is these types of films that need the judgeing and the encouragement. The better films may just need a few remarks on the good points (camera angles etc) and the bad points (editing).
Ian Gardner
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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:33 am

There's a lot of good sense in those remarks, Ian.

A) judges are only human, not godlike
B) I like the idea they are "more experienced public"
C) film makers should accept / reject comments as they think fit
D) judges are only one more opinion

So far as national comps go I'd add to those:

B) "more experienced" and concentrating "public". (General audiences allow themselves to be distracted easily.)

D) "one more opinion" by someone without an axe to grind or friendship to maintain

Dave

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Willy
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Post by Willy » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:35 pm

[quote="Dave Watterson"]There's a lot of good sense in those remarks, Ian.

A) judges are only human, not godlike
B) I like the idea they are "more experienced public"
C) film makers should accept / reject comments as they think fit
D) judges are only one more opinion
...

Yes, of course, judges are not always right, but their remarks can be very helpful. Filmmakers always think that they have made the most wonderful film in the world. I'm such a creature. But after a British competition I always know that there are some weaknesess in my film.

"Together with Yoda" is a good example. A judge wrote : "The production does seem, however, a little 'contrived' and slightly formulaic." Afterwards an English friend said that the voice-over is not always spontaneuous.

Now I'm very grateful to these two people. I agree : when Colin Howett is acting it sounds natural. When he's reading it is a little 'contrived'. Next time I will think about it.

An other example is my "Masquerade". One judge wrote that James Ensor, the painter in my film who lived at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, is wearing rubber soles. At that time rubber soles did not exist. A Belgian actress also told me that she didn't like James Ensor's wig and that the old painter still looked a little too young. She was right. My friend Chris, the main character, was only 28. I tried to make him much older, but apparently I should have done it better. Next time I will concentrate more on the make-up.

Anyway, filmmakers should realize that there are weaknesses in every film. There are always things that could have done better. A film is never really perfect. So it's always fascinating to know what the weaknesses are in our productions. Therefore it's very interesting to take part in competitions.

The next few days I won't be able to write messages for this forum. My English friend Brian Higbee will come and visit us and we will go to Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank Museum, the National Gallery and the Van Gogh Museum ... without a camera !
Willy Van der Linden

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Michael Gough
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Re: How can a comp judge be helpful?

Post by Michael Gough » Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:19 pm

Dave asked if we had any examples of a judge's comment that had changed our film making life. Mine was a hard lesson but I “eventually” learned that perhaps the judge might be right!!!

Very early in my hobby life I made a story film that was chosen by my club to represent them in the NvS Competition. I was delighted and assumed that I now knew everything and had nothing to learn.

It came 2nd and I was still delighted because it was beaten by “Unlucky For Some”, by Altrincham Club, which I still consider to be the best Club comedy ever. However I strongly disagreed when the judge described my masterpiece as amusing, but “a little slow”. I sent it to the Movie Maker Ten Best where it got 4 Stars, but the judges still called it “too slow”. Even in my own club, it did well in Competition but the judges made the same mistake about it’s pace!!! Then it gradually dawned on me that perhaps ….. horror of horrors …. perhaps these three independent judges might actually be right. Perhaps I wasn’t yet God’s gift to film-making !!!

In those days of film it was not as easy as on video to tweek already completed work but a couple of years later the film was damaged and I had to take the magnetic stripe soundtrack off and start again. I thought I would take the opportunity to look more honestly at the pace. I re-cut every splice saving at least a second on each one. The finished result did not loose a single shot, or punchline but its time was cut by more than 2 minutes ….. and it is far better.

So next time you disagree with a judge’s comments on your film ….. pause ….. don’t immediately dismiss it ….. read it again …… think about it ….. wonder if perhaps their dispassionate view has some validity ….. after all perhaps you are too close to your own work.

Any alternative view, particularly a critical one has some value. If you only want praise, then do what I do, show it to your mother. My mother can find no fault in my work at all. (but that doesn’t necessarily help me much)

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Post by stingman » Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:47 pm

I`m glad you took the judges advice! Three independent judges cannot be wrong can they!
When you make a film, they say you should finish it and pause on it for a time. Then go back to it and watch it again. I hate it that when you view your finished in a club comp, you suddenly notice and blairing error hitting you in the face. Even just a few frames in a tight edit, out of place can get you hot and bothered.
I`m starting to take judges comments a bit better. It`s only when they don`t understand the competitions rules when I get a little narked.
Ian Gardner
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Peter Copestake
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How Judges can be helpful

Post by Peter Copestake » Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:58 pm

I'm waiting to see what the IAC judges say about my entry before I wipe it off the computer. I might say I'm sorry it's quite so long (it's not as long as the original and I have made a very short version from part of it) and hope they can stand it. None of my club went to sleep when I showed it to them (quite unusual - someone usually dozes off) and it has been shown to general approval by the people for whom I made it but of course everyone, except judges, is too polite to criticize. As long as they don't say 'it's too long for a general audience' which is the one comment that really bugs me, especially when it has already been shown to such, see above!
Peter Copestake
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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:08 pm

None of my club went to sleep when I showed it to them (quite unusual - someone usually dozes off)
Maybe that is one thing an outside judge really can help with ... telling you when the movie is too long or too slow ... even occasionally when a movie is too fast for people to follow.

In my own attempts at editing I realise how hard it is to step back from material you know inside-out and try to imagine how it appears to someone viewing it for the first time. The dilemma is harder when you are trying to present a documentary view of a topic when it is impossible to please the experts who want lots of detail and a general audience who want only the highlights.

Dave

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billyfromConsett
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Post by billyfromConsett » Sun Mar 04, 2007 5:29 pm

A judge's comments haven't seriously changed the way I make my films, but an accumulation of them have made a difference over time.

You might say they have added to my knowledge, and have given me an isight into what they want.

Competent club films often win a club contest when compared with another 3-6 movies. But in Biaff, when compared with 6 dozen of that type, sent in by winners from all over Europe and beyond, and appraised to an international standard, they're in another league.

The most damning comment I received from a judge, where my movie was judged the winning movie, was being told it could lose 4 minutes (about 30%) of it. Ouch that hurt! But a re-edit did follow.

Roy

Post by Roy » Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:10 pm

After nearly forty years of filmaking and 15 years of being a Competition Secretary, I find that most judges are not concerned wether an audiance enjoy a film and only class a film as being successful if said film is made in a way that the judge himself would have made it. Fair enough I suppose but I maintain that it is impossible to judge a film without personal bias coming into the equation. I remember most vividly a judge who was judging a holiday film competition, making a statement to start the proceedings sayinmg that he didn't like holiday films to start with. Remember all you runners up that it's one man's opinion and perhaps next week another judge will probally say something completely different. I only wish Filmakers would not take matters so seriously. Roy Alexander

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Apr 03, 2007 9:37 pm

Bless you, Roy, for some experience, thought and good sense.

Most of the views expressed on the forum are moderate but elsewhere I hear some vitriolic comments about judges and judging.

I find putting aside one's own tastes so far as possible is very hard to do. It's not just saying "I don't like holiday films, but I will try to see what makes one better than the others" - it can involve deep sensitivities.

A movie may go against your deepest beliefs: political, moral, religious, ethical ... but you should try to judge them fairly. Movies about abortion, paedophilia, satanism, creationism, National Front, Young Communists etc come along once in a while and have to be assessed.

As a competition organiser you know that finding reliable judges is not easy.

Cheers

Dave Watterson

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Post by Laurie Calvert » Sun May 13, 2007 10:06 pm

To go back to the first posting, Dave asked if anyone has had a comment that has changed their film making life.

Well Dave himself gave me a comment way back in the early eighties that helped me define my movie making style.

'Surprise Attack' was a 12 minute Super 8 film based on Star Wars. He wrote balenced comments but one line stood out that meant more to me than winning. He said 'This is the most innovative and imaginative amatuer film I have seen' (I guess that has changed since then). But the film was full of effects from animation, models, pyrotechnics, film scratching, multiple exposures, in fact anything I could push the medium to do, to help tell the story.

It made me realise that I wanted to tackle my film making from a different angle wherever possible. To stand out in some way. It helped define my style.

So for the last seven years for example I've been making computer generated films on my own. Not particularly complex CGI. So nothing odd there. What is more unusual is that they are feature length. One person - computer generated features. Now that is very rare. Actually I don't know of any others so far (tell me if you do). I am proud of that.

So thanks Dave. That little comment made an impact and I still remember it now. That is why you are only one of just two IAC members to be sent a copy of my first CG feature 'The War of the Starfighters'. I value your opinion.

The second film 'Monsters of the Id' hopefully gets released this summer. (Links below).

See what you did. I've finally had the chance to tell you.
:D

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Sun May 13, 2007 10:32 pm

Aaaargh! What did I unleash on the world?!?!?!

Actually this illustrates the positive side of judging, when something you say or write helps or inspires a film maker. The negative and terrifying fear is that something you say or write may put people off making movies.

Funnily enough I spotted that Laurie had joined the forum and was about to come online and explain to people that he was the guy who made several short CGI pieces and that phenomenal feature-length movie. What he does not add is that he built into the film characters based on his own wife and boys. (His wife was obviously the gorgeous model which Bryce used as their generic female figure in the Poser programme.)

Good to have you aboard, Laurie, and I hope you'll find time to join in a lot between your zany engineering efforts and your film making.

Dave

So OK peeps ... what was the dumbest/most gut-wrenching comment a judge or any audience member ever made about one of your films?

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Post by Michael Gough » Mon May 14, 2007 9:48 am

Dave asks "What was the dumbest/most gut-wrenching comment a judge or any audience member ever made about one of your films?"

In my case the judge stood at the front and started by saying "If I see one more film about this subject I shall go mad"

Luckily I have experienced more constructive comments than negative ones so I don't complain about the judging process in general. You just read, think, hopefully learn and shrug off the poor examples.

Roy

Post by Roy » Mon May 14, 2007 3:25 pm

The Dumbest remark in my opinion about one of my films was actually made by a professional film maker about thirty years ago. He was judging a regional competion and I had entered a fiction film which had been very successful at local level as well as national. His remark was fiction thrillers shouldn,t be made in surburban homes. For what reason he didn't say. Actually the action took place in a quiet village and was not what I call surburbia. Anyway I didn't bother to tell him that the most successful British films were made in surburbia. Mind you, I've heard many stupid remarks since. I just put it down to the ignorance of the speaker. I agree with what someone said earlier about judges, If several judges say the same thing at different competitions then their comments will most likely to be correct and should be acted upon. Roy Alexander

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