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Giving feedback

Help others improve their storytelling by providing constructive feedback! When listening to a pitch, consider clarity, intent, and pacing, and when delivering feedback, start positive, be specific, and offer suggestions. Remember, feedback helps storytellers refine their ideas and create engaging stories.

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Video transcript

- Welcome back. In the last video, we talked about pitching as a way to improve a story. The most important part of the pitch is the feedback given by those listening to the pitch and that's what we'll focus on in this video, feedback. When you are pitching, there may be parts of the story that are clear to you but not clear to those hearing the story for the first time. That's why feedback is important. You learn what parts of your story need to be clearer. After listening to a pitch, the feedback you give helps the storyteller understand what's working and what's not. The more clear and articulate you can be, the more you can help the storyteller see how their story is perceived. So what should you listen for when hearing a pitch? - When I'm listening to a pitch, I try to identify what the storyteller wants to say with the idea like what is the point of the story? - The way that they say the lines and so that it also gives me an understanding as to why they drew the character in a certain way so that I understand maybe how I'm gonna time out that shot or what the intent is there or the energy level is for the scene which might give me an idea what kind of music I'm gonna use or something. - When a story artist pitches a three or four minute scene, we as editors wanna see how that small scene will be incorporated into the bigger picture. - Because you're looking at only one chunk of a film called a sequence and usually it's based on whatever location you're in. So you have to go into it thinking, what's the beginning point and what's the end point? Okay, I've got my brain there. Now, let's watch this. But mainly, you're listening for performance and pacing and whether it's working within the body of the film. - Once you figure out what was clear and what wasn't and what was entertaining and what wasn't, it's time to give that feedback to the storyteller and it can be tricky to give honest feedback in a way that leaves the storyteller energized to make changes rather than feeling beaten up. Pixar artists have developed a few strategies to make giving feedback a positive experience. First, start with the positive by giving specific examples of things that you liked, things that are working particularly well. - One thing we try to keep in mind is the feedback sandwich. You start with something positive about the pitch that you really liked and that kind of breaks the ice for you to insert any constructive feedback that you have for the storyteller and then you end it with something positive again. So you kind of end on a high note and that's the feedback sandwich and it's easy for the filmmaker to digest because it's a sandwich. - When someone's pitching and I'm there giving feedback, I have to go into it knowing that that person worked really hard on this thing and they might have worked late in the night and not seen their kids and so you wanna go into it with a sense of respect for the artist. - You're more likely to listen to feedback if you feel like the person who's giving you the feedback is on your side and has the same goal of creating something great and greater than one person can create on their own. - Second, make it personal. That is, make it clear this is your personal perspective. - When giving feedback, it's important that it comes from your own point of view and it's good to use I statements. I didn't understand that. I thought this could be more clear. - I wasn't sure what you were trying to convey here. - As opposed to saying, nobody's ever gonna understand that or you didn't make it clear. - Nobody's gonna get that message, nobody's going to understand that because that's just fundamentally not true. You don't know what everybody else is going to understand. - Because everyone has an opinion and what's obvious to one person may not be obvious to another. - Third, be specific. - When you give specific feedback, it really helps the person to be able to do something with it, right? They can actually make changes in their work. - When you give feedback like it's not funny then it's not really helpful for the filmmaker but if you say something like it'll be so much funnier if you change the timing of the punchline one millisecond sooner or instead of this gesture, it's a bigger gesture like those specific things that the director or the filmmaker can actually use to address your note. That's always super helpful. - And so if you can be specific and know what you want even though it may be wrong, at least they have a direction. - And fourth, make suggestions for the storyteller to consider as opposed to dictating what you think should happen. - So when giving feedback, it's important not to dictate to the artist what you think is the solution. There could be a number of solutions. - Or ask a question like ask for clarification like what, what was your intent when the character said xyz? - What were you trying to do with this area or what were you trying to, what were you hoping to achieve with the ending of that, of this story and that kind of releases the burden off of you to provide the solution for one but also, it kinda gets the director or the storyteller to start thinking about, oh, what am I trying to do here and then they can figure it out for themselves. - So questions again involve the pitcher in the process. - Ultimately, it is your job as the person providing the feedback to identify problems with the story rather than to fix those problems. Feel free to offer suggestions but solving the problems is the job of the storyteller. The next exercise asks you to work on your feedback skills with a few friends.