How bad can criticism affect you? It really depends on a lot of factors.
I’m still affected by something someone said to me seven years ago. I really feel that I haven’t gotten over it and in fact, I’m currently trying to work through it.
One of my first ever paid video gigs was a behind the scenes (BTS) shoot for a friend of mine who was shooting a little short for a contest for the Ford Motor Company, dealing with Mustangs. He was a finalist and actually got a budget to shoot this.
It was a great short that he wrote and shot with a great cast and crew.
My job was to shoot BTS for him because he had to add a little “Who’s the director?” thing with his submission. I also stayed on for an additional day to record some BTS for another short he was directing. So, two days, two full days, driving out to OC for each and then again to deliver the footage.
At the time of the shoot, you couldn’t even rent the camera alone for twice what I charged. I’m going to say all of this was for $200. (I’ll verify later)
Things went great, pretty much. I had fun. I was fed pizza. Got to see some shooting. Got to meet some great people.
My friend said that when he got the money from the people, he’d mail me a check. That check took a long time to arrive but after a long, long time, it did arrive.
Sometime after that, I got an email from my friend’s girlfriend / soon to be fiance / eventually to be wife. It went on to say that the reason the check was so late was that SHE didn’t want to pay me. And I was lucky because “Tom” was such a nice guy that he wanted to pay me despite my footage being shitty and too dark to use and that probably cost him the contest. And also I was to NEVER try to speak to them again.
I have to admit that I can be an asshole sometimes and I jump to conclusions and have had my share of pissing people off. But I have to think that there was obviously more to her anger toward me than what she wrote. And I already admitted that I’m not that good at anything, after all. But, I mean, where does that kind of vitriol come from?
Anyway, we all know that when a person has undisclosed crimes, they flame-out on other innocents to make people look the other way. Her email to me was actually in response to an email I had written my friend’s mother, who was asking for advice on running an art group among our mutual friends and community. I had told her the reality of how hard it was to run such a group and in that email I mentioned that not getting paid for so long from her son, actually made me think twice about being involved.
So there! That was it, a reason to hate me. Now my friend’s girl had a reason, from the future to excuse her past crime toward me. See, obviously she knew I was going to be a meany and I didn’t deserve to be paid, because that thing was going to happen in the future and see and yeah that footage was shitty too!
It’s kind of funny to think about now but even so, the criticism still stings. And while it might have some truth in it, it is unwarranted as such. And even if true, should have been given in a much nicer spirit.
As a comparison, I recently decided to try out a new camera by visiting another friend, whose band was playing at a bar. In my somewhat drunken and surely uneducated stupor, I accidentally changed the shutter speed to something that made all the footage go all ghostly blurry. He didn’t ask me to shoot the band and although the footage was screwed up in my opinion, he said the following when I sent it to him, “Thanks man! The footage looks pretty cool! I know shooting that way was unintentional, but whoever is editing has footage from a bunch of different shows and I think he could totally splice some of that in and it might work really well. I really appreciate you coming out and doing that for us.”
How cool is that?
Sometimes getting things out in the open helps one feel better. I actually feel a little better writing this all down, here. I never really mentioned the above attack on my art to anyone publicly, except a few close friends. I’ve held it in for all this time and it’s been like a little devil sneering at my work, in the shadows of my mind. I still have my footage from that job and honestly, I think it’s quite usable. A little color correction to brighten it up surely but I’ve always thought it’s better to underexpose a little than to blow it out. I’m going through the footage now, as an exercise, to “prove to myself” that it surely could have been actually used. But the voice-over narrative will most certainly be changed!