As I mentioned in my previous post, last night (Thursday) saw the launch of The Production Office from Chris Jones and his Guerilla team.  And as it happens, shortly after I wrote my previous post, I had a perfect example of excellent feedback.  Not positive feedback, but constructive criticism.

A short while ago, when Chris was first putting the new show together – in fact, when they were first batting the idea around – he approached me with a view to providing extra content for the show by way of short VTs he could slip in between the studio stuff.

Excited to be involved in the new venture, I started working on some ideas.  This week, one of those ideas came to fruition and I created the folllowing video.  Watch it now and then read on:

In the end, Chris didn’t use it in the show.  Today, he called me to explain why it had been dropped.  In essence, it wasn’t good enough.  But that’s not how Chris couched his feedback.   Instead, he carefully explained WHY it wasn’t good enough and what I can do to improve my work. He offered pitch-perfect feedback which communicated his point in a way that didn’t make me feel a) like a total failure and loser or b) like he was the bigger boy who knew how to do it better.

Firstly, it was too long.  At 5.07 it’s still a short (still a relatively short short), but it’s too long for the show Chris is making – the audience’s attention would have wandered and that’s fatal for a show like The Production Office when people can quickly and easily click off.

Secondly, it was about a fairly boring subject.  In Chris’s own words: “talking about procrastination is the very worst kind of procrastination.”  In other words, people should be out writing, not watching 5 minutes of me telling them how to.

Thirdly, it was the wrong form for the show. Chris explained very succinctly that internet TV is something that many people can watch, but will often be doing other things, too – as we all experienced in the chatrrom on the LiveStream channel last night.  That means the show is essentially radio with pictures, not a TV show where people are following the visuals 100% of the time.  Making a short with no audio other than keystrokes and kettle noises doesn’t hold up to this.

Lastly, it’s not the right feel for the show.  Both the Guerilla Film Makers’ Handbooks (and the new Pocketbook) and The Production Office are about PEOPLE, by PEOPLE.  And my short…wasn’t.

Once he’d taken me through all of these points, he then explained more carefully exactly what he was looking for in terms of videos for the show and I gained a much greater understanding of what he wants me to deliver – and also grew in confidence that I can deliver what he’s asking for. In truth, this is a conversation I should have had with Chris a long time ago to avoid the stab in the dark that was the above film.

More importantly, the feedback has helped me to see the short in a new light.  I still like it – I think it’s quite clever, pretty well cut (although could be better) and has some cute moments as well as good, solid advice that I stand by.  But I know it’s not the best I can do and I also recognise that it’s not fit for purpose, which in a way makes it a total failure.

And sure, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have a moment of gutted disappointment there.  But as the online buzz has been lauding recently, failure is a vital step to achieving greatness.  If I’d not made this, I’d not have submitted it to Chris, who wouldn’t have taken the time to give me the feedback he did and I wouldn’t have learned.  I’ve taken all he’s said on board and my next piece will be better.  Much better.

And the key to all this: feedback makes your end-product better. Full stop.

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