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The Value of Feedback

I have to do what??
was my reaction when the Adventure Film School asked me to share my ideas and treatment with the rest of the group.

Growing up, I remember sitting in art class and having fellow students lean over my shoulder obnoxiously asking “what’s that?” as my pencil scratched across the page. It always upset me that they couldn’t tell11012015_banff_-0850what it was, so I got used to the process of only showing my work when it was fully complete. This process simply carried over into my adult life without much thought. A paper was never shown unless it was fully revised, a drawing was only revealed when it had complete lines and shading. But now at the Adventure Film School, for the first time since my early childhood, I was asked to show my work before it was done. And it terrified me.

The thought of scrutiny at such a vulnerable stage gathered in a solid lump in my throat, but I swallowed it back and threw my raw and unpolished thoughts under the flore11012015_banff_-3270scent lights of the examination table. I watched as people picked at it, but I relaxed my flinched expression when I realized that it wasn’t malicious, it was backed only with curious intentions. They questioned certain parts, asked for clarification, helped shape the direction of others… Finally, as the hands retreated, what I had anticipated to return as a dismembered mess came off the examination table more put together and whole than it had previously been.

What I learned from the process is that showing your work and getting feedback is a super important step in the creative process.

  • You save yourself time by changing little things throughout the process, instead of waiting until you’re finished and risk having to retrace your steps and redo a large chunk of your finished work.
  • Know that everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t be ashamed of your work as a beginner; getting feedback is part of what will elevate your work to the next level.
  • Feedback allows for a new perspective. Everyone naturally has their own thought process and perspective, so by adding more brains to the equation, you are adding different view points and ideas that you might not have considered before.
  • Bouncing your ideas off others can provide clarity in situations that often get muddled within the chaos of your own head, and you are much more efficient when you have a clear direction.
  • Feedback promotes community relations: by interacting and sharing your ideas with others you are not only elevating your work, but you are also creating and building relationships with those in your creative community.
  • And an added bonus to sharing your ideas and asking for feedback: it’s a free way to promote and market yourself! Getting people interested and personally invested in what your working on will grow your audience.

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While feedback is so helpful in so many ways, there are some feedback demons to be aware of.  Here are some things to keep in mind when receiving feedback:

  • When it comes to feedback, you need to develop a thick skin and realize that what may seem harsh is usually only said with your best interest in mind. It has been said that two of the most dangerous words in the English language are “good job,” so value the feedback and know that in most cases, it is extended with intentions to make your work the best it can be.
  • Keep your authentic voice, and find the line between being adaptable to others advice and staying true to your vision. This can be tricky, but a good rule of thumb is if you are hearing the same feedback more than once it is usually worth considering.
  • Unserstanding who’s feedback to consider is also another important concept. There can be a lot of so called ‘haters’ in the world who can be malicious with their feedback instead of constructive. Instead of taking these words to heart absorb feedback only from those who are putting themselves out there like you are, or whose opinions you value.

If your anything like me, this process will look something along the lines of a baby giraffe taking its first steps, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. For a while, I felt like asking people for feedback was a burden on them, but I have been surprised at how excited people get when you ask for their opinion, so don’t be timid!  And remember, feedback is a two ways street, so while you ask for others advice, be sure to give your feedback to others.

Here is a link to “Bravery and Authenticity in a Digital World”, a more in-depth discussion a between Brene Brown and Chase Jarvis on how to evaluate and constructively digest feedback. Totally worth your time!