Take advantage of the creative hive mind before you finish your next film.
Filmmaking is naturally a collaborative process. Just before we finish a film, many of us seek out reactions from an audience to help us fine-tune the final cut. At the beginning of a film career, the circle of friends willing and able to give constructive feedback on a film project can be quite small. What if you could seek out feedback from other creators like you, working on their craft and putting their own work out into the world, even if they are a world away?
As filmmaker Kira Bursky built up her audience on YouTube and created multiple narrative shorts that went viral, her fan base started to reach out to her to get feedback on their own films. Time and work constraints made responding to all of these requests impossible, but Bursky was determined to help her fans nonetheless. Her solution was to create Critiqr, a free app for iOS and Android to build a community of creators and critiquers to share work-in-progress films to give and get feedback.
No Film School reached out to Bursky as Critiqr is launching to learn more about her creative journey, how Critiqr works, and what the future may hold for the app.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Kv-emZuwQ
No Film School: Can you share a little more detail about how fans of your YouTube channel starting asking you for feedback on their own videos and how they ultimately led you to create Critiqr?
Kira Bursky: In the past year, my films Tree Hugger and Wild Flowers went viral on my YouTube channel. As this occurred, I began receiving messages from my viewers in regards to their own work. They wanted my perspective and I was delighted! I adore supporting fellow artists in sharing their unique visions. I’m a full-time freelance artist, so as much as I wanted to personally watch and critique all of these films, it just wasn’t entirely feasible for me.
One day about two months ago, my brother Jeremy called me up. He told me that he wanted to jump into his next programming project and asked me, “Are there any needs you see in the world that aren’t yet being met?” I thought about it for a moment and then told him about all the feedback requests I had been receiving. What if I could create and facilitate a virtual community that connected these emerging creatives to constructive feedback? Thus Critiqr was born!
NFS: How do creators post their videos to the app and request feedback on specific aspects of their projects? Can users submit private videos and invite only certain people to provide critiques, or are all videos public to the Critiqr community?
Bursky: On Critiqr, you’ll find the “Fresh” feed where all posted content is curated. Users select their public or private unlisted YouTube video (we will soon offer other upload alternatives). Next, users can select which aspects they would like critiqued (editing, writing, sound, etc). Alternatively, they can select the “General” critique option to have all filmmaking aspects considered for critique. Users can leave an optional personal “Creator Message.” This allows them to provide Critiquers with context, ask questions, etc.
In order to receive critiques, users must apply a ticket to their post—one ticket equals one critique credit. Tickets are earned by giving critiques. Essentially, users give a critique to get a critique. For this first version of the app, all posts will be public within the Critiqr app. We plan on developing user-made, invite-only private Critiqr groups in a future update.
NFS: Giving constructive feedback on projects is a skill that can take some time for filmmakers to hone. How are you using your in-app rubric to guide critiquers through the feedback process?
Bursky: It can be overwhelming to know where to start with a critique and how to balance being kind while also being constructive. Rather than just throwing our users in with an empty page to fill out, we’ve created an easy to follow feedback system. To help guide the critique process, users are provided with three main “General Review” question prompts:
- Overall Understanding: Do you feel like you understand what you just watched? Describe your understanding of the film.
- Best Moments: What were some of the best moments?
- Needs Improvement: Are there any moments that you feel could be improved upon?
Next, there is a “Technical Elements” section where the breakdown of specific filmmaking aspects to critique are listed. The Critiquer can provide a one-to-five star rating for the category. If they choose five stars, they are prompted to elaborate on what they liked specifically. If they choose less than five, they are prompted to elaborate on what can be improved upon.
We also plan on featuring top Critiquers in our app to showcase as examples to users who are new to critiquing and are looking for some additional inspiration and guidance.
NFS: Can you explain how the points/rewards system works?
Bursky: Each time a user posts or critiques content, they will earn points. Users can “react” to critiques (imagine an up-vote, down-vote system similar to Reddit) which affects points as well. With these points users level up, climbing the ranks in the community. As the community grows, we will be implementing rewards and special benefits, such as a featured spotlight section of top Creators and Critiquers, the potential to be paid or gifted prizes for your critiques, and the ability to link up to professional industry Critiquers.
"At the core of it, Critiqr is for emerging, curious filmmakers looking to grow and amp up their film game."
NFS: Is the entire app free or will certain features cost money (now or in the future)?
Bursky: The app is currently entirely free! It is important to me that this app is accessible to any creator who wants to take the next steps in their filmmaking journey. We will be implementing extra paid add-on features in the future that will cost an optional additional fee. We are exploring “private Critiqr groups” where teachers/moderators will have additional access and abilities to monitor and curate their own personalized, virtual workshop. If you are an organization, school, or group interested in this, please reach out to us.
NFS: Who do you see as your target market for Critiqr?
Bursky: Critiqr is built for indie filmmakers of all skill levels. At the core of it, Critiqr is for emerging, curious filmmakers looking to grow and amp up their film game. This can be student filmmakers or this can be filmmakers like me who decided not to go to film school! (Ha, No Film School indeed.) This can be for filmmakers with a large fan base that want to engage with their audience in a new way: What if you could invite your fan base to see your video before it’s done and give their input in a private and organized setting? There are lots of possibilities for how Critiqr can be utilized and who can utilize it. We plan on growing alongside our users and developing features based on their needs and wishes. Think of this app as a collaboration between Critiqr and its users. Express your thoughts to us. We are always just an email away. Warm, welcoming and constructive—this is the energy that drives Critiqr. Contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Critiqr is available for download now for free for iOS and Android.