Judges and their credibility

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
tom hardwick
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by tom hardwick » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:24 pm

'Sorry Tom but if you have not entered into a competition recently you should not be judging'. Gosh Col, that's harsh. Have you written this because competition contestants have complained to you about my powers of observation, my sense of fair play, my constructive criticism or my choice of 'stock phrases'? Do you also feel that as a professional filmmaker I can enter an amateur movie-making competition?

Or is that that you feel critics in general should do what they pass judgement on? In which case I'll wager there will be far fewer book and film reviews and fewer restaurant and art critics as well.

I also feel it's a little unfair to say my wedding films are not movies. I certainly work hard to give them a beginning, middle and happy ending, and turning the bucket of raw footage into something that can often evoke tears and laughter generally takes four solid days. If it's not filmmaking, what shall we call it?

I have the feeling that if you, 'throw out anyone who has not entered BIAFF within the last three years from judging' then you're not going to have many experienced judges to call upon. Getting people to give up many hours of their free time for nowt is not an easy or rewarding job - as I can see from your post.

tom.

ned c
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by ned c » Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:07 pm

Wedding and Company ProMo's don't constitute movies!!! I have never made a wedding film and hope not to; they are the ultimate high risk documentary. Miss the vows and the important bits and your best bet is the next plane out of the country. In a previous life I produced and in many cases wrote/photographed/edited over a hundred training/corporate movies. So, this disqualifies me from judging? In a way I agree, the best judges are those that don't make films but watch a lot of them. One of our AMPS judges is a retired architect who has worked as a location scout and a set designer and is a dedicated film watcher. Her comments are often the best but devastatingly honest and have to be diluted for consumption by the film makers. Herein lies the problem; amateur film makers tend to make allowances for poor work and therefore are really unsuitable for judging; discuss.

ned c

tom hardwick
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by tom hardwick » Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:25 pm

Out of interest Col, how many amateur film competitions have you judged? Having made so many films over the years I'd think you would be in a good position to pass on your experience in the form of critiques.

tom.
Last edited by tom hardwick on Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ned c
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by ned c » Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:54 pm

Hi Tom, I think you have combined me with Col Lamb, that was my first post on this thread.

ned c

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:04 pm

Don't you just love speed-reading forums and emails ?!

Dave (the perpetually muddled)

tom hardwick
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by tom hardwick » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:27 pm

Oh yes, sorry Ned. Speed reading is what does it. :-)

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:04 pm

People often speak/write as if there were a readily accessible pool of judges from which competition managers could select. There may well be people with the qualifications (whatever you think those should be) out there ... but how do you find them?

Regional, national and international competition managers will all tell you it is not an easy task. They all have to take a chance on a judging newcomer now and then. Sometimes that person is great, sometimes terrible and mostly somewhere in between - needing more experience before becoming really good.

Word of mouth can supply some recommendations. Suggestions for a register or central list of good judges run into the problem of potential libel. (Ms. X is not reliable. Mr. Y has a blind spot about holiday films.)

-Dave

col lamb
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by col lamb » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:19 am

Well I had hoped that my comments would get some constructive dialogue taking place, but not so far.

Having watched quite a lot of IAC compilations I generally find them lacking in the most part, the UNICA compilations on the other hand have some very good movies.

Look at web sites and in particular VIMEO and you see some great, some medioce, some creative and some downright weird movies, but they are all generally pretty well constructed and the visual content can be very stunning.

My point about not judging if you do not make movies is a point that I will always believe in, how can you judge if you do not go through the process of creating and producing your own movies? Just because you watch a lot of movies does not contitue a knowledge of the processes involved and must surely limit just how effective you are at disective the content and make up of a movie. How many of you listen or take notice about what the critics say about a Hollywood movie, I don't.

A judge has to be constructive, creative and diplomatic. To consider all aspects of what they are viewing and to comment accordingly. Not glib one liners. Having seen many excelent movies not get what they deserve in IAC competitions just because they are not understood is not right on the entrant, conversely some movies that have won prizes are mediocre.

Is there a way of considering all aspects of the craft in a scientific and constructive manner and to have the best overall movie win or be well placed? Tell us what criteria you use in judging!

I have tried to get systems in place within our club but without success, just because certain members like a movie with a start, middle and end, all being very predictable.

To give you an example I look at Cinematography (20), Imagery (15), Main sound (10), Background sound (5), Titles/credits (5), Editing (10), Content/subject (10), & Enjoyment (25), with each given a score out of the specific maximums shown in brackets, with the total maximum score being 100. The highest score wins.

The scores are of course arbitrary and me attempt of trying to ensure fairness.

Ask another question, why do the vast majority of IAC members not enter its competitions?

Col Lamb
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tom hardwick
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by tom hardwick » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:40 pm

'A judge has to be constructive, creative and diplomatic. To consider all aspects of what they are viewing and to comment accordingly.'

Well put Col. I might also add to the list 'observant, broad-minded, helpful and humble'.

Your 'marks out of 100' method shows that you place more emphasis on judging with the head rather than the heart. I can't go along with you when you place the two combined audio totals as being worth less than the cimematography, which is itself worth double the film's content. You award no points for style, emotion, empathy or repeatability - though your 'enjoyment' category could cover that.

Why don't the vast majority of IAC members enter competitions? My guess is they have better things to do with their time, as well as having a certain amount of self awareness regarding their filmmaking capabilities.

There - I've answered your questions. Are you going to have a go at answering my five?

tom.

ned c
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by ned c » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:10 pm

Scoring aspects of a film pre-supposes that there are agreed standards in each of these categories; film is an art form and works on the emotions (we hope) which are diffent person to person which is why judges do not necessarily agree. In Col's system what are the criteria that are used to judge these categories? Remember that one person's tripod shot with carefully composed images is another person's nightmare; they love "wobblycam" and oof shots, what about you? For example the "jump cut" was anathema for years but is now used creatively, the art has advanced

My basic criteron for evaluating a film is quite simple "do I want to know what happens next?" If I couldn't care less then no matter how beautiful the pictures, superb the sound, great the presentation you have lost me. In other words I will accept less than stellar technical quality in exchange for a tale well told. Film is a story telling medium, true for every genre of film; wedding; industrial; training; documentary and feature.

No matter how you slice it judging is subjective and giving technical aspects values is really impossible; this is art not engineering.

I favor film enthusiasts over film makers as judges, they will not be hypnotised by the staggering crane shots, tracks, CGI etc but concentrate on the total effect. The results will always be contentious and I feel sorry for people who take the judge's comments seriously. They are someone's views and that is all.

ned c

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Mike Shaw
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Mike Shaw » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:41 pm

Absolutely agree - I'd far rather see a slightly out of focus iffy sound movie with a darn good story line than the sharpest HD perfectly framed movie that simply goes nowhere but has its maker standing proudly beside a ton of leading edge equipment. Scoring systems are helpful but not definitive.

Depends what people want/expect: judgement on the creative execution of an idea (whether documentary or short story), or judgement on technical excellence above everything else.

Both should of course be part of the judging process - but for me, the emphasis would be on the creativity rather than the technicalities. And how do you score that with mere 'points'.

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Willy
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Willy » Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:54 pm

Mike Shaw wrote:Absolutely agree -
.
Some weeks ago I said to Chris that the technical qualities of a film are important, but the story is even more important. So I agree with Ned and Mike and other friends. Ned even says the following thing : "I favor film enthusiasts over filmmakers as judges. They will not be hypnotised by the staggering crane shots, tracks, etc... I think that Dave will be very happy with this idea. I understand Ned, but I think that also filmmakers can be excellent judges. However, it takes some time for them to become good judges. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am a bit embarrassed by saying this because I am a filmmaker and also a judge from time to time.

But I am a bad judge. I only hope that I am a little bit better than 10-15 years ago. Now I feel that a tripod is not necessary anymore ... I mean ... you don't need a tripod all the time... For instance my camera takes the place of the main actor in my film. He is walking down a shopping street. I don't need my tripod or a "rider" to create the right feeling. I keep my camera on my shoulder. I remember that 10-15 years ago I was only focused on possible technical mistakes in the films (continuity, "jumpers", etc...). After having seen the film I didn't know what I had seen. If anyone told me ... try to retell the story and tell me what the filmmaker wanted to express then I was not able to do this.

But, I agree, just like Ned I may respect critics more who watch numerous films than filmmakers who only make films and never go to the cinema ( a bit like me). That's what Ned wants to tell us I think.

I only want filmschool students in a seperate category at festivals for non-commerical films, because we must also respect "ordinary" people who don't have the technical possibilities to be as creative as they would like to be. I have already sung that song a few times and I don't want to re-open that discussion. Hopefully you understand everything what I want to express because as you know English is my second or third language. As we already said an ordinary filmmaker is usually more creative than a filmschoolstudent or a professional filmmaker. Once I asked the local fire brigade to help me. I wanted to have a panoramic view of Breendonk Concentration Camp. I could use their automatic ladder and I didn't have to pay anything. A professional filmmaker just hires a helicopter and a filmschool student has fantastic possibilites. Perhaps now I am exaggerating myself, but I had some filmschool students in my club...
Willy Van der Linden

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Willy
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Willy » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:30 pm

Willy wrote:
Mike Shaw wrote:Absolutely agree -
.

..., but I had some filmschool students in my club...
I would like to add the following thing to understand my feelings in my previous message better. Some time ago I met a friend who never makes films himself and who had attended a festival. He said : "I enjoyed the festival. The quality is getting better and better every year. Again the winner was a filmschool student !"... To be clear : I am not against showing films made by filmschool students at festivals ! But it's a pity that you don't see their films the following years.
Willy Van der Linden

Arthur Bates
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by Arthur Bates » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:21 am

I’ve been following this topic with interest. I have submitted a number of films to competitions and have received bizarre comments that I couldn’t understand, unhelpful and even derogatory and upsetting comments from judges. Once I almost gave up film making altogether because of a particularly nasty remark, but I’ve also hade helpful and encourage criticism. I think judges do a splendid job and I take my hat off to them. I am sure Judging is a difficult and thankless task. I’ve got two films in a competition right now so I better be careful. One word seldom used is “Entertaining.” I’ve seen more than one film which receives a high award, during which I lowered my head and hoped it would stop soon. You can always switch off the Telly but not the projector. I have one anxiety however, not perhaps directly related. Since the great divide between professionals and amateurs became narrowed by the introduction of DV there seem to be more amateurs entering competitions now, who have more than a slight relationship with the professional media. This could be raising the standard which perhaps is not a bad thing but it would be a shame if the ordinary amateur to whom this is a hobby, felt that he could no longer compete and gave up. One more point, I don’t think that single judges in competitions are fair to either the contestants or the judges. If only one judge is available I think audience participation is essential, experience had taught me this.
Arthur Bates.

ned c
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Re: Judges and their credibility

Post by ned c » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:28 pm

Some interesting comments in the last postings.

I agree with Willy that whilst students are very welcome in our contests and festivals they must be in a separate category and judged by a separate panel; perhaps made up of academics. Yes, they seldom reappear after one ot two years but a few may stay on as n-c film makers when they find it hard to get into the profession. We can also learn from them.

Arthur raises a fundamental point. In the past the divide between amateur and professional was fairly clear but now many people make wedding videos and training/corporate productions on a part time basis; the so-called semi-professionals (a term I abhor). They often have tremendous movie making experience and a wider range of equipment. The hobbyists who makes movies in their spare time are at a disadvantage. It is impossible to redress this without making some rules that specifically exclude anyone who makes an income from any aspect of movie making.

Perhaps there should be the introduction of a "professional" category as was the case in the Cotswold and is the case withthe Canadian Festival.

ned c

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