Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Tip #98: Prepare for the haters

By Dan Parkes (Director/editor)

It is a disturbing aspect of being a filmmaker, but unfortunately the not-so-simple act of making a film will automatically put you in line for possible abuse, either directly, or more likely indirectly, (as with website 'trolls').

You may also think that this would more likely come from disgruntled and anonymous audiences who dislike the end product. The fact is that the four main sources of abuse will come from possibly surprising quarters: fellow filmmakers.

Constructive criticism
Before looking at some specific examples we must emphasise the importance of constructive criticism and how this differs from insulting or attacking filmmakers or their films. There is a simple saying frequently used on film sets: "Don't give me a problem, give me a solution". This shows how the following examples certainly differ from constructive criticism which should be warmly welcomed by all filmmakers. I personally encourage people to criticise and comment on my work and will take onboard such advice (refer to a recent blog about test audiences here) especially when they give practical suggestions and solutions to what they think isn't working or could be done better.

However this is completely different from those who make unfounded, aggressive and in many cases just plain insulting comments. Their intent is not to help the film or the filmmaker but -just the same as the proverbial school bully- to make themselves feel better by putting others down. Which is not only childish but a real shame to discover that such immature behaviour exists within an industry that thrives on teamwork. In many cases it stems from bitterness, jealously and issues that are more their own making and irrelevant to the filmmaker or film they are attacking.

1. From cast (the "prima donnas")
We have already covered the fact that unfortunately there are actors who can suddenly turn abusive over imagined ill-treatment. Unlike the other three sources, this can be a particular problem for a low budget production if it requires recasting. For more information on dealing with prima donnas check here.

2. From crew
During the making of Ambleton Delight the production team extended every effort to make cast and crew feel as comfortable and appreciated as possible -despite the fact that this can be a very difficult task when working on such a low budget.

The general response has been very positive. But we have heard stories from other film sets where this is not the case, with DoPs having to take over the role of the director due to a row with the cast, of crew storming off sets because they are bored or feel they are being 'used', of unpaid runners suing a production company, or those who just don't turn up at all. And then there are those who bad mouth the production team afterward, instead of raising the concerns at the time.

3. From volunteers
We had an interesting situation where a man who had previously worked in the film business, kindly offered the rear of his restaurant premises for a shoot. He volunteered, without us even asking, an offer we eventually took up when we found ourselves in a tight spot. The location worked well, but due to failing light we asked if it was possible to come and film pickups. Unfortunately, one of the producers who made the telephone call obviously caught this man in a different mood, who became so abusive over the phone that it made any thought of shooting pickups completely impossible. We have no idea what changed his attitude, except that he possibly assumed we actually had a larger budget than what he previously thought. This is in fact the key issue when receiving help from volunteers especially when you also have high professional standards -it can sometimes send the wrong message.

4. From fellow filmmakers
And then the most surprising (or maybe not so surprising?) source: from those the same as you. You would think that the amount of effort involved in film production would garner at least a small amount of mutual respect. Apparently not.

Here are some 'printable' examples of what fellow filmmakers have written about our production and production blog....

Karel Bata a UK filmmaker (lives in a "posh bit" of London, http://sweetheartfilms.com/) was the first to take unreasonable offense by alleging our lighting blog recommended not using a DoP (which it did not) and went on to post on forums and bulletins insults and allegations such as "He's made a huge public gaff, and is now getting his head chewed off. He'll learn from it...complete IDIOT here."

Freya Black, a UK filmmaker also wrote about our lighting blog: "How nasty can you get!....making such a massive fool of themselves in public, I personally just find it embarrassing...will just make me cringe, even if it has high bizarre value....it certainly seems like you have been disloyal and unappreciative".

Mike Mann (http://www.gitve.com/team.html) also took exception to the lighting blog describing it as a "slap in the face to DPs disguised as a tip to the masses."

Fellow low budget filmmaker Jonathan Williams regards our production diary as "spam disguised as endless, and often substandard 'tips'... as a means of pulling them to your website and attempting to sell them your DVD".

Valentine Palmer, a Brighton, UK based actor/presenter most famous for some TV bit parts and for directing a porn film. "Your feature film (with a title too laughable to even mention)... within the first few minutes of the film’s showing, (I could see) that this was an absolute disaster.... you appear to be manifestly incapable of taking charge of the director’s chair for any kind of major filmic undertaking... The screenplay of your film gave the impression of having been written by someone who had never bothered to study the construction of a movie. There was no noticeable plot arc, character arc or scene arc. There was certainly no apparent 3-act structure within a film devoid of action, humour, suspense or romance."

Gregory Singer, Director at Stallion AV Productions in the Greater New York area and who describes himself as "proud to be Korean... shy around people, but not with a camera" began by describing the film as "Nice. Not great, but nice." But became increasingly unpleasant and over the course of many months posted many unfounded accusations on Shooting People bulletins including those that took "issue with" our production blog which he goes so far as to call "dangerous" and "disseminating bad information... Breaking the law is promoted as *good* low budget filmmaking technique...Unilaterally redefining decades old set job descriptions because 'having no money' makes you an exception?" He called us "newbies" and asked: "What exactly do you think DP or DoP stands for? DIRECTOR of Photography. Did you go through several MOVIE DIRECTORS when shooting this film? Is it a sort of Round Robin production where everybody gets a chance to do each job?"

UK filmmaker and blogger Ben Blaine (picture with brother Chris above) also entered the furor over our blog which he labelled "the Ambleton Delight Debacle" calling it "delicious bru-ha-ha... where a couple of badly chosen words about DPs have sparked a furore."

Dan Selakovich an editor/writer from LA, took exception to the blog on continuity, reading an unwritten job description inbetween the lines, saying "We are into my pet peeve of the view of script supervisor, and this low-budget tip has gotten it wrong... again....One more part of this "tip" that makes my blood boil...that's rank beginner stuff....What you leave out in your "tips" is blinding... More of my nasty comments below: I don't find your blogs practical. I find them utterly incomplete."

Someone who calls themselves "Anonymous" wrote this curious entry on the lighting blog "Dear Mr. Rambleton...you set yourself up for this....Very strange how I don't see more directors holding a boom. Seems to me you should take your 'advice' and go 'Australian'".

Tom Tremayne even questions our "creativity" when he writes: "It's a shame that supposedly creative people feel they need to impart advice that's merely common sense dressed up as something else!"

You might wonder why we have gone to the effort of reprinting what is mostly either unfounded, misconstrued or just plain insulting comments, especially since we have received several times more positive and appreciative feedback, not to mention even some awards. Well it just goes to show how as a passionate and heartfelt low budget filmmaker you will also need to develop a thick skin and a sense of humour, and especially don't expect any sympathy or even support from fellow filmmakers!


  1. I love the way you applaud yourself for having a thick skin and yet have obviously been itching to lash out at your critics in a debate that happened nearly two years ago! I don't really see any "personal insults" or "abuse", just some very robust criticism that you have obviously taken to heart.

    "You might wonder why we have gone to the effort of reprinting what is mostly either unfounded, misconstrued or just plain insulting comments, especially since we have received several times more positive and appreciative feedback, not to mention even some awards. "

    Would that be the award you won at a festival run by your Executive Producer?

  2. It just goes to show that someone, somewhere will always take exception to your work whether it is a bad review or these criticisms from your peers. As an actor I have learned to brush it off.
    I'm unsure as to whether you have gained anything from posting these criticisms. Best of luck with all creative endeavours.

  3. I believe Dan's DoP, Anna Carrington, had a few choice words to say about him and the pontificating he does on this blog. Why haven't you added her to your rogues gallery Dan?

  4. To echo the first comment.
    You lost the moral high-ground the minute you posted the criticisms. Get over them (and yourself).

    You've made a film.
    You've made shared some "stuff" on a blog.
    You've achieved something.

    Whatever you personally think of the comments, it's better just to list them without sarcasm. Rise above them in other words. As it is, you're doing yourself no credit.

  5. "As you can all imagine I was upset and offended by Dan Parkes
    Ambleton Delight blog as I believe there to be some mis-

  6. Just to clarify some misinformation already appearing in the comments: the film won Best Actor and Best Feature at festivals that were not 'run by the executive producer'. Also Anna Carrington has since apologised to us when she clearly realised her initial offense was based on misinformation spread by others.

  7. Hilarious. If you read it carefully you will see this is what is known in the trade as a 'non-denial denial'.

    Which is why you're being so modest, Dan, and forgetting to mention that it also won "Best UK Film" at the End of the Pier Film Festival as evidenced by your trailer and the laurels splattered all over your website.

    Bryan Gartside, who runs the End of the Pier Film Festival, is also an Executive Producer of Ambleton Delight. I'll pass it on to Tyrone D Murphy at UFFO to see what he can dig up about your other awards. He's very interested in these sorts of cosy relationships.

    As for Anna Carrington, I never saw any apology. The Shooting People post was pretty unequivocal: it was "Dan Parkes Ambleton Delight blog" which upset and offended. Not other peoples' comments. Are you saying she got offended without even reading your blog and then pretended in her Shooting People post that it was specifically your blog that offended her when she hadn't even read it?

    Also why did you delete her comment and then asked people to stop being abusive?

  8. "Anonymous" -it seems really sad that you seem to have some axe to grind? And the irony of doing it on this particular blog? That unfortunately says a lot about where you are coming from...

    Yes we did surprisingly receive an award at EOTP but was something we definitely did not have anything to do with - we were as surprised as anyone else. Please do investigate the other awards, I would be very happy to see what you uncover as we most certainly have no "cosy relationships" with any of those (and I wouldn't term our relationship with EOTP as cosy either!). Sorry, no conspiracy. And you would not have seen Anna Carrington's response as it was in private correpondence to me. I certainly recommend you contact her directly and discover for yourself that you have got the wrong end of the stick (her offense was simply based on others listed above incorrectly labelling the blog "no DOP").

  9. By the way apologies to any who have had difficulty posting comments. It took several attempts to get mine to show up above. I know Ben Blaine wrote a very insightful comment that for some reason has not appeared at all. Unlike what "anonymous" would have you believe this is not due to some conspiracy or 'abuse'....all I will say is that I definitely don't recommend Google's "blogger"!

  10. Your bitly URL said "NoDPhere"!

    How is that different in any substantial way from "No DoP"???

    An axe to grind? Irony? I don't know you, have never worked with you or met you. I didn't even join in with the original debates about your various posts.

  11. That bit.ly URL "NoDPhere" was created by Karel Bata, definitely not us! And interestingly is what ended up causing most of the unwarranted "back-lash". Strange that you accuse us of making it! Since you don't know me etc then what is the reason for all these unfounded accusations? Surely you have better things to do with your time...?

  12. Yes, I do. As - I'm sure - did all the people who offered their well-meaning advice.

    Good luck with it all!

  13. Thanks "anonymous". But if by "well-meaning advice" you mean the insults and unfounded accusations as listed in this blog and your comments then yes, we will need all the luck we can get. :-)

  14. Well. I'm taking you're word for it that the bitly was created by someone else.

    That said:

    You still proudly boast of a several meaningless awards, including one given to you by the Exec Producer on your film. (Coincidence, my arse!)

    You publicize your opinions and then attack those who have the audacity to disagree by saying that what they believe is "unfounded, misconstrued or insulting". And later by accusing them of trolling you, by having to the temerity to disagree with your self-important rubbish.

    You revive and publicise a mouldy old debate on a film which no-one would otherwise have cared about and in which the vast majority of debaters thought you a pompous ass and then you accuse people who disagree with you of having "nothing better to do".

  15. Thanks "anonymous". Your latest comment really does (sadly) show the importance of this particular blog for all filmmakers. I am really sorry to read what you just wrote, the language and tone you chose to use and the false allegations on which you still insist. Please don't be a "hater". Put your energy into something more postive and creative!

  16. Dan, I find it amazing that so many people are upset about your blog, which, the way I understand it, is not a manual on how to make movies, but tips on how one could make movies based on your personal experience as a filmmaker.

    However, take heart; it is usually the negative posters who like to make themselves heard, whilst the supporters generally don't feel the need to enter into the debate.

    Maybe the 'naming and shaming' on this particular post was a bit much: it's far better to take such criticism on the chin and move on - I mean, do their opinions really matter to you?

    You should be proud of the fact that you shot a feature film on a incredibly small budget and with limited resources.I'm proud that I had a small involvement, and for me the experience was an extremely positive one.

  17. The British Independent Film Festival is run by Jackie Cockerel, Stuart Brennan and Neil Jones of the Film Festival Guild.

    The Film Festival Guild Awarded a "Best Actor" Award at the Newport International Film Festival to "Stuart Brennan" for a film called Risen. Risen also won "Best Film" and also "Best Director" for Neil Jones, plus a whole host of other awards (the press release reads "Risen cleans up at the Newport Film Festival".


    These awards then took pride of place on a website designed to entice people to invest in their next effort.

    Sorry to prick your ego here, but the people who gave you your award run Scam Film Festivals, Dan.

  18. Thanks "anonymous".... But I thought the point of your comments was to find some conspiracy in which we created the awards for ourselves via our executive producers? Instead you have found a small scale version of the Academy/Golden Globes/BAFTAs which ultimately ends in insider politics...ie 'it's not what you known but who you know'. The only point you have proved is the whole point of this blog... that "haters" will go to any extreme to try to ridicule films or filmmakers, or any awards they are given. Again, surely you have more positive/creative options for your time than trying to find reasons for hating a film you have never seen or filmmakers you have never met...

  19. Hi Anonymous,

    I'm a Game Developer, and I received few critics too, so I know how to deal with people, with FACTS.

    Okay, I know you 'hate', but can you please describe what you really so-called 'hate'. Most people can't understand what are you trying to 'hate' because your points are not enough just to hate someone who has already had received an award, or are you just simply be 'jealous' about the success, or are you 'greedy' to get what you don't get?

    But as stated in the post above, as the internet says 'troll', applies to you due to you giving a pointless point which was supposed to contain points that points them to the right point in film-making. I'm a programmer, so I'll deal with you, a programmer's way.

    To sum up, theres possibly of you being a 'troll', 'hater' or just a random guy trying to make fun of people around internet. As internet memes says "Get a girlfriend". As your age, I can guess that you are in mid-age, because mostly children finds film-making boring and old ones will never fight to win a 'trolls war'. They probably gave up halfway.

    Now going deeper to your nationality, with that accent, person who cares much about his language, quotes like "" or () shows pretty much that you're either American or British, but I bet you're British because the word "arse" has broke your identity as the word are used in Britsh English.

    Thank you for letting me to comment my piece of word to those haters/trolls out there, have fun trolling XD

  20. Hi again, Anonymous,

    If you really want to complain, argue, critic, can you please state them in the following post constructively, properly mannered and makes sense? It doesn't makes sense if you hate something out of fun, I mean you can't hate the milk because it tastes like milk.

    Also, if I were Dan, I would have probably try to grab anything I can to be famous, in which has its down parts where haters suddenly pops out of nowhere just to hate you for fun, what a jerk -.-

    To be honest, either in film-making or game-making, both are pretty hard to do and we all learn the hard way and you learn the easy way. For if theres someone who are interested in film-making and not sure of what to do, they might randomly browsing the internet and bump into this blog. This blog can atleast get them started on the film-making, which is extremely useful. What use if you want to be a film-maker and yet you can't find a proper direction to head into. "The Recipe to Ambleton Delight" will get you started.

    This film, instead of benefiting itself, its benefiting the public alot, and I call it donation of idea to beginners who wants to start a production company with extremely low-budget. What else do you want? The free camera?

    Also, the documentary as released by them can also be used as advertisement to boost their popularity, and I would agree so. In another words, they're good film-makers who actually uses 'brain'.

    Anyway, just want to ask you a question, Anonymous, did you actually watch the film or not? Have you actually went to the film festival or not? Have you compared all the film in the festival or not? If not, you're just a failtroller.

    Anyway, regards to all of you dear film-makers, your documentary, blog and tips has inspired me to invest in film in a good direction, thank you :)

    1. Remove my photo from this page immediately!

      Karel B

  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    He then steals other people's photos and posts them on his web page with insulting remarks.

    Dan Parkes is clearly a complete arsehole.

    He can't spell either.