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August 9, 2018

Why I don’t review short films

Hi Vasco – thanks for sending me your review. I deliberately chose mediocre films, because that’s more of a challenge than describing excellence.

While your review was fun to read, and very well written (actually the best of all the submissions), its tone was far too negative, to the point of sourness, for what I have in mind.

I want the site to be used regularly by the average/casual/new short film fan, not just by sophisticated film-buffs and film-makers. Many people wouldn’t return to a site that did such damning reviews. […]

I also want film-makers to submit, and not many would come knocking if they fear they’ll get taken apart like that!

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So if you feel you could write to a more emollient brief, maybe you could have a go at the other one (or something of your own choosing).


Sourness?  Sourness at what?  Maybe the low rate of pay offered, if I got the job as a film reviewer.  But, I didn’t think that showed.

Okay, so you say, why not just be nice, or emollient?

I was nice.  I said there was a good scene on the bus, and it looked like the actors left the script in their seats, because the film went downhill afterwards.  I discussed its merits, and where it could be improved.  (Within a very short word limit.)  And, sadly, I didn’t get paid a red cent for my work.

I wasn’t being offered enough money to be in marketing, so I didn’t write anything that could be used for publicity.  But, I was honest, fair, and I thought very gentle.

The thing is, if you spend more on the festival submissions than you do on the script, the movie’s probably not going to be very fun to watch.  It’s really hard to find nice things to say, and be honest at the same time, when someone sends you something that was thrown together in a weekend.

Just because you win a festival, that doesn’t mean your film was any good.  It just means the judges thought it was the least bad of the films that were entered. And, you might not have the same taste as the judges anyway.

But, anyway, don’t ask me for honest feedback unless you really want it.

Well, I discussed other films, and to make a long story short, they expected me to watch two films and churn out two reviews in about an hour.  Not only that, find nice warm fuzzy things to say about the films in that time.  All for an unskilled wage, and with a zero hour contract.  And no, I didn’t get paid for “sample” reviews.  No wonder my submission was the best one!  Try being less sour after hearing those working conditions.

Okay, I guess I’ll go back to focusing on fiction and fantasy now.  It seems non-fiction is a bitter pill to swallow.

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