BIPOC Community Page - - Notes Pt. 2 - Is it better to give or receive?
Dare we start talking about the etiquette of GIVING NOTES?
This is a big one, and something that takes years to perfect, maybe not years, but it certainly takes the destruction of a couple friendships to really hone the skill.
STEP ZERO: This is a great moment to remind everyone of the golden rule: Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
Step One: Shit Sandwich.
This is the one thing that you should keep in mind with you are taking notes: What did you like?
We get bogged down with what we would change and how it can be approved that we forget to articulate what was awesome. This is just as helpful, if not more helpful than what you bumped your head on. When the artist knows what they did right, they know what to do when they are fixing what they did wrong.
What if there’s nothing to love? Well, then you have to FIND IT. Someone is sharing their art with you and you want them to do better, so hone in on a character or a moment and use that to build on. Remember that if you can’t find anything to like about it, you haven’t done your job.
If you loved all of it - gush - but be specific. Everyone knows when you say, “It was amazing.” that you didn’t really look very deep.
Now for the Shitty part: How to tell someone they suck —
How would you want to be told?
Try to have a solve - but remember that it’s not your job to have a solve. This is a great place to use you “Bad pitch but maybe the dog could talk?”
Use your words, never ever leave someone with, “I dunno, I just didn’t like it.” If you bumped your head on something tell them what rubbed you the wrong way - and get specific - or else they can’t fix it.
Don't imply that the artist did something wrong because that's not the way YOU would do it. Do the work to figure out what their motivation is.
Remember that you aren’t a reliable source if you aren’t an expert in what you’re commenting on: That means that if you don’t buy movie about a doctor who sells organs on the black market - unless you are a black market organ trafficker - what are you really bumping your head on? Is it that they don’t have motivation? Or are they reading too nice to do something so dark?
For Scripts: Copy Editing and Story Editing are different things: Be clear on what you’re doing. The writer should have given you a copy edited script, and if you see a typo, be a pal and point it out. But you’re not a school teacher, there is no need to make a comment on spelling and grammar. You’re there to serve the storytelling process. That said if you’re unable to read the script because you’re popping out of it every time there’s an error it’s ok to tell them to get you a new draft after they’ve copy edited.
On the flip side - if you’re copy editing and you see a plot hole - be a pal, point it out!
For Screenings: Don’t make a suggestion for an edit that would mean going back to camera, trust me when I say a director and an editor are already pissed that they didn’t get the shot of the protagonist leaving the bar with her high school sweetheart. It’s not helpful to remind them they ran out of day before they completed their shot list. Wake up your inner filmmaker and think of a creative solve.
Concluding your thoughts.
- Always offer to follow up for clarification
- Always ask questions about what the next steps for the artist is going to be
- Also, if you don’t want to read the next draft make sure to let them know is a gentle way.
What are other tips and tricks ya’ll use when you give notes?