You do a job and you want to assess your performance, so you ask for feedback. Or not.
Sometimes, people just volunteer their remarks. It may come with a sting or a nasty blow, sometimes it’s softened with compliments and other times it’s a reminder of what we already know; a reassurance that we are on the right track. Regardless, feedback can be a tricky thing to give or receive.
As the giver, we might forget how sensitive the recipient(s) might be, the hours they have put into the project and the environment people have to work in. On the other hand, the contention is that if we want to be recognized on the same platforms as parallel industries, we must be judged by the same standards.
“Stop saying, ‘it wasn’t bad for a Nigerian film’! What is a Nigerian film anyway, in 2017 and why should I understand? Put your back into it or go home!” a friend ranted the other day.
Some films have given me an actual heartburn. When it comes to critique of individual work, we also forget the saying “it takes a village”… An actor might tell you that they had been filming for over 40 hours without rest prior to that delicate scene, or that they were in the middle of the street at night and had to quickly can the scene before “area boys” (or the cops) caught their scent. Perhaps this, “I told the director, but he insisted we shot it like that” or “You won’t believe he/she didn’t give me any notes. I was on my own”. A singer has to record without prior preparation or rest because the ace producer they have been waiting on for months is suddenly available. I can imagine you saying, “Yeah, yeah. Excuses”, but in the words of KIKA, my character in Jamestown (one of my own personal lessons on feedback), “No, the reason.”
The reason is not always the excuse. I agree that if an artist allows a producer or director to work them to the ground or bully them, they are responsible for their below-par performance. I agree that regardless of what happened or failed to happen, you will have to stand by what you have done (or not done). These are just facts. On the receiving end, I know first-hand, how hard it can be to get negative feedback, but guess what it is? Occupational Hazzard. It is nothing personal. There will always be someone who is uninspired by your work or with your style, at some point or another.
It’s not because they don’t like you. Maybe they don’t get you. Give it time or let it be and focus on being the best you. Think of the way you feel about your favourite actor; you just like them and it doesn’t matter what they do. You too are someone’s favourite. Mind you, when the feedback is the same all round, you really must look inwards.
My former boss/colleague, Ik once said to me, “If everyone says the same thing and they’re all wrong, it is still on you, not them. For example, if I say ‘Omoye, you are proud’. It either means you actually are proud or you give off the impression that you are proud. Either way, it is on you and not me. It falls on you either to do something to change that impression or to stop being proud.”
If critique of your work is generally the same, then you have to do something about it. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but once you’ve forced it down with some Mojitos ;-), the healing process can begin. You are always the better for feedback, I promise. Take a day or two to let it sink in. Don’t think about who said what and why you think they said it, portray You from another perspective.
That’s your personal challenge. Don’t defend everything or explain too much or you just come across as weak and that’s much worse than imperfect. If there is a genuine challenge, work on it and stay constant on your strong points.
Then again, the best feedback is usually an honest review of oneself. You can’t always see yourself on stage, but you can FEEL.
For me, the best part of any filming experience is during the actual shoot. Then, I am in the zone, soaking up each precious moment, to savour afterwards. Next, I’m in critique mode, playing back my performance in my head with mental corrections. When the job is released, I study every inch of my frame and give myself notes. When you do this often enough, you can tell honest feedback apart from a blabbermouth.
I say we COLLABORATE on this feedback of a thing and be more sensitive to one another. In the phrase made famous by Bisola, ‘na the work wey we dey do’. Love it and li(ea)ve it. Art is organic and life happens. Let’s forge ahead towards perfection, bracing up to receive all review with grace and dignity. We are all Creatives, whether on set, on screen, on stage or behind the scenes… and our life operates in a cycle.