Justify or Help - what should competition crits try to do?

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Dave Watterson
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Justify or Help - what should competition crits try to do?

Post by Dave Watterson »

Now that the last of the three big amateur film festivals in the UK is over this year I have been looking at the written notes contestants get from the festivals.

[My thanks to the people - who had better remain anonymous - that let me read comments on their films from all the festivals.]

Regardless of the festival or the film's rating, crits seem to me to fall into two main groups:
  • a) those that only seek to justify or explain the rating the judge has given. These may be quite short and only touch on one or two points of detail.

    b) those that try to help the film maker do even better by referring to several details in the film and suggesting ways to get round them.
I have usually tended to the second group, but that may not be what entrants want - especially when they are already high-fliers with many awards under their belts.

Without naming any judges (please!) what do you expect of crits and what would you like from them?

Dave
Mike Shaw

Post by Mike Shaw »

I'm absolutely, definitely, 100% in the second group - suggestions on how to improve are always welcome for me. It also gives a chance to see the film 'through someone else's eyes', thus seeing thbings I may have missed.

When judging, it can be difficult to not impose one's own approach to tackling (aspects of) a video. Not always a bad thing, I suppose, but not always welcome. I'm sure even the top directors don't always agree on approaches and ways of getting the story across.

On the receiving side, I have often read the judge's reports, taken on board what has been said, and re-worked the movie ready for the next comp. I find them useful - even the comments I don't agree with!
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stingman
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Post by stingman »

People on here, should know by now my feelings for judges!

This is really at a club level only! Most of the time the judges at club level cannot make a film that is better then the ones they are judgeing!

I again found out this week at our club. I came 5th out of 6 entries :shock: :shock: :shock: :lol: !!

It was an editing competition, and the same happened this year, (even through it was disscussed at club meeting). Certain rules were highlighted. Those rules were broken by the judges. They AWAYS don`t understand them. The second place film had jump cuts that wern`t meant to be there. The narration was all poppie and the music kept on stopping. The judges gave this film second place because the narration was factual!

Oh dear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Post by ned c »

This was my last year as Chair of the AMPS judging panel and can only feel a sense of relief that I don't have to do it again.

It is great watching other people's movies but very tough to provide useful comments. One of the problems is that of "style", for me a travel film must reveal what the local people do and how they interact with the visitors, spare me the churches show me the local lifestyle. Similarly with documentaries, for me they must be rooted in some aspect of the human condition. "It's an Alpaca" isn't really about alpacas but about the people who raise them, similarly "Breendonk" and "The Pinnacle". These are films deeply involved with people. So, like Pavlov's dogs its easy to know what makes me salivate and this becomes a disadvantage as obviously I miss some deserving films.

The other judges don't necessarily agree with me and our lady judge is a woman of fiercely held views and I have to tone many of her comments down! But thanks for all the entries we have viewed, it's been a privilege.

Come on Stingman, it's no good railing against the judges, it is well known we are all idiots. I have suggested this before but for club comps I believe you MUST have outside judges to avoid exactly the situation you describe. Try the local camera club, drama society, art school, or whatever. The results and comments will probably amaze you.

Ned C
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stingman
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Post by stingman »

That sounds like a good idea. I don`t like giving the committee ideas because if I ever got my Club Sec job back, I may have used up all my ideas. Which this one is yours :lol: 8)
I don`t hate judges. It`s just the local ones in my club. As i`ve said before, I think they got it wrong this time. When the results were announced, There were audiable gasps from the members about the second place. People came up to me at tea time and said how good mine was and how did I do it! THAT IS a compliment in itself and if people talk about it then i`ve done my job and encouraged and shown how things can be done differently.
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Willy
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Re: Justify or Help - what should competition crits try to d

Post by Willy »

[quote="Dave Watterson"]
Regardless of the festival or the film's rating, crits seem to me to fall into two main groups:
  • a) those that only seek to justify or explain the rating the judge has given. These may be quite short and only touch on one or two points of detail.

    b) those that try to help the film maker do even better by referring to several details in the film and suggesting ways to get round them.
9 pages !
Yes Dave, in Guernsey it was clear that you belong to the second group. When going home Werner Van den Bulck and I myself enjoyed reading the judging comments while Werner's wife was driving the car. Perhaps I've already told you. For my "Breendonk"-film I received 9 pages of "literature" ! In the mean time all Belgians and also our Dutch friend René Roeken received their certificates and comments. They seemed to be very pleased. Therefore again congratulations to Mary, Peter, the other Guernsey-friends and the judges. Now I can show my 9 pages of criticism to other Belgian filmmakers and encourage them to enter the British international film festivals. The judges comments are an excellent means to promote BIAFF, Guernsey etc... The Britis festivals have an excellent reputation.

Courageous !
It does not mean that I do not appreciate the judges who belong to the first group, the ones who just try to justify the raitings that they have given. Being a judge is always courageous, Ian. In fact when you have been a judge yourself then you understand that we are all human beings with our personal feelings and that everything is so subjective.

Judges under pressure
At the time when I was in Guernsey the Belgian National Film Festival took place. With my "Breendonk"-film I got the highest score ever : 81 %. I am not someone who is moaning all the time about judges and I never put them under pressure. In the Belgian system this is possible and some prominent filmmakers always do. Writing reports means taking responsibility. In Belgium 4 out of 5 judges gave me more than 80 %. One gave me 76 %. Unfortunately there were not judges comments at all. In the BIAFF and Guernsey-system I would have known how I could have improved my film. Maybe I would even praise the man who had given me the lowest rating.

Next film
So I thank the British judges who made a detailed evaluation report. It's clear that I cannot change my film anymore because I am already focused on the next one.

An other thing that is very good in BIAFF and in Guernsey is the "star"-system oer using the words "very highly commended", "highly commended" "commended" ... Percentages give the impression that you are in a
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Re: Justify or Help - what should competition crits try to d

Post by Willy »

commended", "highly commended" "commended" ...

Gold, silver and bronze
Percentages give the impression that you are in a school. Dave has already told us that BIAFF will use a "star"-system next year. I'm pleased with this. No gold, silver and bronze anymore. In my town there is a filmmaker who already won a bronze medal at Unica twice. His wife wrote articles for the newspaper and now everybody thinks that he was third in the worldchampionships. I think it would be also better that the Unica-organizers would change this. I am not against gold, silver and bronze. Just like in the Olympic Games gold must be for the overall winner, silver for the runner-up and bronze for the third.

Tranquilizers
Something more about judging at Unica. You must be very very courageous to be a judge at Unica. After having shown some films the judges are asked to be on the stage. Then they must tell the audience what they think about the films that they have seen. I would take a bottle of tranquilizers before doing this. Not you ? Yes, we must respect judges !
Willy Van der Linden
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Justify or Help - Judges Comments

Post by Michael Slowe »

I also belong to the second group although I quite like to know why a judge gave the grading he did even if he is only trying to justify his decision, nothing wrong with that but his general tone is explanation enough.

Speaking personally I am never surprised by any judgement on a film because I know how good or bad it is once it is finished and I have viewed it a few times. The comments therefore are merely a matter of curiosity and I am rarely in disagreement.

As to wanting to learn how to correct matters this can be useful in a general way for the future but to me there seems little point in going back to an edit once the thing is done and dusted. As far as Stingman's problems go he should not be too surprised. Quality judges are hard to find but the major festivals find them and we should be grateful for that.
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Willy
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Re: Justify or Help - Judges Comments

Post by Willy »

After having edited a part of my film I often ask my wife Vera what she thinks about it. Then she sometimes says : If I were you I would delete that sequence or I would make it much shorter. Then we have a discussion about it. When other friends tell me the same then I must always confess : my wife was right. It's also like that with judges. Sometimes you do not agree with them, but after some time you must admit that they were right. That's one of the reasons that I appreciate very detailed evaluation reports like the ones that I received in Guernsey very much. We must be grateful to judges that they are willing to give their personal feelings. As Michael said, maybe it's too late to improve your film after having received that criticism, but maybe these things may be useful for the future.
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Post by ned c »

Have just received the reports from the Guernsey Lily and these are surely a model for all judges to aim for. BIAFF reports are very good but I think our friends in Guernsey have hit a high mark in judging/reporting. The reports are interesting, informative and, yes, even entertaining. Thanks to everyone involved if you haven't entered the Guernsey Lily then you should.

Ned C
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