How to Critique Your Own Work
Taking class regularly is an essential method by which to maintain your skill set and therefore your career. That being said, whether it’s due to financial or time constraints, most of us can’t afford to sign up for a new acting class every six weeks. It is of crucial importance that you learn how to critique your own work in order to continue learning and remain productive when you’re between classes.
Critique vs. Criticism
Our industry lends itself to an unhealthy amount of self-awareness and reflection. Not every instructor or coach you work with will know the difference between criticism and critique, but you can do yourself a favor and learn to differentiate between the two.
Criticism is personal, non-specific and callous.
It can be difficult to objectively view our own work. Whether it’s our acne or our “annoying” laugh, it’s too easy to latch on to unimportant and often aesthetic details, neglecting matters of technique or preparation, that we can actually improve upon.
If watching your footage back brings up negative emotions in your body, notice it. Don’t blame yourself - we’re conditioned to be our own worst critic. Repetition is your greatest asset at this phase. Watch your tape, identify the negative emotions coming up, set them aside, pick something productive to focus on. Repeat. You wouldn’t tell a peer in class that their hair looks ugly on-camera, so spare yourself.
Critique is impersonal, targeted and constructive.
Removing emotionality and insensitive self-talk from self-critique isn’t simple, but it is incredibly useful. In the long run, it will benefit your craft, your career and your mental health.
Objective self-review is unconcerned with vagaries. It’s specific; my pace is too slow, my eye line is off, my point of view is unclear, my frame is off. None of these things are personal; they’re practical. Actor habits of any variety can be changed or removed over time, and that is where your focus should be.
Be kind to yourself.
You can’t control anyone but yourself. Inevitably, you will work with other professionals who are only unkind and not at all helpful. Don’t let that professional be you.