A common question asked in job interviews, especially for a creative, is "how well do you take criticism?"
Constructive criticism is the very keystone of what makes a great production. No matter how awesome, how talented, how godly you think your favorite director/artist is, they're not. At least, they're not that awesome all on their own. Sure, there's skill in there, but one thing that separates these great creators from the pack is their ability to sit back, listen to a critique, and learn. They listen to people around them when they are told that a joke doesn't work, or a character's design doesn't fit. They cut out parts of the story that don't make sense to their peers. And in the words of one of my classmates, they're ready to "eat their baby" if the project falls flat and needs to be completely revamped.
You'd think this is common knowledge, but after someone has spent hours, days, and weeks sweating over something... to hear someone else say that it is bad, well that hurts. It feels personally insulting. It's not though. Most often, it's objective and it's honest.
I see many of my fellow students ignoring advice as we critique each other's projects in class. I am guilty of it myself, two posts back on this blog, when my adviser told me the project was too much to handle. (small addendum here, after meeting with her last night and reviewing my production book, she has agreed that the project is in striking distance) But with that exception I have been making a conscious effort to listen to the advice of those around me. Especially from the members on my team.
Their time is valuable. It is a commodity that must be split between their own projects, mine, work, and personal lives. And if they're going to spend some of it to give me advice and help me improve my craft, I damn well better listen. Take, for example, this message. The text is blurred, but note, if you will, the size:
This isn't some half-baked critique. It's not someone rolling their eyes and saying "eh, it's okay I guess." This is an essay. It's an investment. It's a lot of verbage. And it's not an isolated case, either. I have teammates that are willing to invest a lot of time not just in the project, but in helping *me* specifically to accomplish it.
This isn't meant to be a flattery post. I'm pretty sure the author of the specific message above doesn't read the blog. But it's a point I want to make: messages like this are a gold mine. I'm lucky to have so much time invested in my improvement. If I listen and learn, hopefully one day I can be a respectable project lead.
The alternative is, well, if I chose the alternate route I probably shouldn't be in charge of anything. Even my own thesis.