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The Universal Critique

Each month it seems like I get the following question in some shape or form from filmmakers: "Why publish film critiques online for everyone to read when many of the films for which you critique don't have distribution yet?"

The implication is that, if someone reading a critique hasn't seen the film, they can't learn anything from the critique. This is very erroneous thinking.

Everyone's heard the old quote from Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun." Many creative people think that this means that you can never create anything new, which they find very depressing. While the argument over newness versus perspective can wait for another editorial, the saying actually tends to imply more that there is no new failing but what is common for all men (and women).

And if that's true about the human condition with so many different careers and different drives, how much more true is that about filmmakers who share a similar desire to create? Since filmmakers have a limited number of mistakes that is possible to make in the realm of film, it stands to reason that highlighting these mistakes when they come up helps other filmmakers realize they are not alone and gives ideas of how to correct them.

This is the reason we post our critiques online for all to read. If each filmmaker would read each critique we write in this magazine, he or she would learn so much from others' successes and failures that it would truly amaze them.

Again, this is not because the writers on this magazine are all geniuses (although I have heard rumors that we have a few MENSA acceptees in our midst), but because there is something powerful about learning from one another. Too often we're so absorbed in our own projects that we don't look at what others are doing and learn from them.

For lasting historical proof of the impact of critiques, one need only look at any Bible-based church. One of the largest sets of teachings in the Bible comes from a guy named Paul, who used to murder Christians and then became one. His teachings almost exclusively come in the form of critiques he would write to churches in far off lands. To this day, we can only speculate as to what exactly was occurring in those churches, but these critiques provide advice that millions of people still learn from to this day.

And that, my fellow filmmakers, is why we publish film critiques for all to read.

God Bless,

Jeremy Hanke
Microfilmmaker Magazine

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