Malcom X once said, “If you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success.” These words are very true, but the process of dealing with criticism can be a bit of a beast for anyone. There is always a constructive way to say something, but it’s even harder to take constructive criticism on something you’ve poured your heart into. This basically boils down to all of us simply being human.
The question is, how do you deal with criticism? Being that we are all very different, some of us handle it better than others. Some of us let it roll off our backs, while others let it slowly eat through their inner most artistic being, thus causing that little parasite of doubt to infect logic. As a filmmaker myself, I’ve grown to understand this, as I have let many things burrow its way through my skin and nest within me. Somewhere along the way though, I learned something. I can narrow it back to when I made my first feature film, an hour-long western I shot back in 2005.
I was very proud of the film. I had thrown caution to the wind and did something to challenge myself. I was a freshman in college who wrote, directed, and produced an hour-long western drama. Did I know what I was doing, no, but for starting out, I think I fared well. Did I want to learn, yes? After we sold out my hometowns local theater for the premiere, I was on cloud nine, but then something happened. Someone, I won’t mention names, but a town local turned politician, who now turned his nose up to me since I didn’t live in city limits, said that he thought my film was inappropriate and borderline pornographic. This shocked me as I had worked hard to make sure that this insinuated scene was done tastefully. Then the critics poured in, with many of them focusing on that scene.
I was in shock and was having trouble handling the situation. I had thought people would appreciate the way we handled it. There were those who loved the film and wanted to see it again, which should’ve excited me more, but I had let that little critic parasite set up home within me. One day I was watching the scene again, still trying to figure out how this scene was worse than anything on TV, or even daytime television. We showed nothing in the scene, and then it hit me. That’s what had caused the problem. I had done my job correctly, we all had; I guided them through this tender scene between the characters. Their minds had filled in the blanks. From there, when someone asked me something about that scene, I let it slide. I wasn’t the one who made the scene dirty. In fact, when I tell people this story now and they watch the scene, they laugh about it as there is nothing shown.
Another incident happened at my Church one Sunday morning when one of the elders asked me when he could see the film again. He really enjoyed the story I had told. Another man walked up and interrupted us by asking, “So when is your porn gonna be shown again?” Without missing a beat, I smiled back and told him some random date, then went back to talking to the elder who I was first talking to and ignored the other guy.
I had learned in a short time to let critics fuel my desire and not my fire. Let it motivate me, rather than knock me down and stay down. That’s why I keep doing projects. I want to become better and get better on all levels. Sometimes if you can listen to critics objectively, if they are being objective in what they are saying, you can take a look at what they are saying and see if you think it’s something you need to work on. With all that said, it is still hard to get criticism, but you have to man up and keep moving forward. There will be some very terrible things said about you when you make a film and or web series. People have the right to their own opinion, but you have the right to ignore them. Exercise that right and keep creating. Even if it hurts to do so, let it go.
On the flip side, you’ll have people who really want you to improve and their criticism can be a breath of fresh air, though finding fresh air can be hard at times, especially when you are working hard in the middle of the industrial district. But it’s there. You just have to seek it out sometimes. These criticisms though can really help you grow as a person and an artist. Whether we like it or not, critics are around every corner and will always have something to say. That’s okay though; just remember to keep on walking. Margaret Thatcher really sums it all up quite nicely; “If my critics saw me walking over the Thames they would say it was because I couldn’t swim.” They always find something.
Jason Brasier is an award winning writer/director/producer, Missouri native, originally from Willow Springs. In 2009, he graduated from Missouri State University with a B.S. Degree in Media Production and also received the Missouri State University Screenwriters Certificate. Starting at a young age, Jason’s passion has been in writing and directing, with the occasional Hitchcockian cameo. During college, Jason developed a passion for producing as well. He currently co-owns American Wasteland Entertainment with fellow MSU Alum, Brittney Greer. The duo has produced award winning web series and informational videos.