Screen scene: Local film news

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT: Local filmmaker Kira Bursky parlayed requests for advice from up-and-comers in the video creation world into the Critiqr app, witch she describes as “a virtual community that connect[s] these emerging creatives to constructive feedback.” Photo by Robert Gowan

Tree Hugger and Wild Flowers, the short works of Asheville-based filmmaker Kira Bursky, have garnered several million views apiece on her YouTube channel. In turn, those films prompted a steady stream of users to contact her about their own creations.

“For a bit of time, I was providing feedback since I adore supporting fellow artists in sharing their unique visions,” Bursky says. “I’m a full-time freelance artist, so as much as I wanted to personally watch and critique all of these films, it reached a point where it just wasn’t entirely feasible for me. I could not balance out my projects and personal life while responding to all of the requests.”

Still wanting to help, Bursky came up with the idea for what she calls “a virtual community that connect[s] these emerging creatives to constructive feedback.” With assistance from her brother Jeremy, a San Diego-based programmer, she created Critiqr, a free mobile app that launched Oct. 5 and serves those purposes. Thirty beta testers, who Bursky says, “for the most part are all indie filmmakers at varying stages in their career,” have also played an integral role in its development.

On Critiqr, users (aka Critiquers) upload a video of no more than 20 minutes and select what aspects they would like to have critiqued (e.g., editing, writing or sound). A “General” critique option is also available to have all filmmaking aspects considered, and other specific requests may be made through an optional “Creator Message.” Users can post as many films as they want, but in order to receive a critique, a ticket — earned by critiquing another user’s film — must be applied to their post.

To critique a film, the user will select a film from the “Fresh” feed, where all posted content is curated, based on their personal interests. Listings are tagged by genre, topic and requested feedback aspects. Once the selected film has been viewed, the critique form will be unlocked with three main “General Review” question prompts: Overall Understanding, Best Moments and Needing Improvement.

There is also a “Technical Elements” section where the breakdown of specific filmmaking aspects to critique are listed. Users can provide a 1-5 star rating for the category. Those submitting 5-star reviews will be prompted to elaborate on specific likes, while those offering ratings below that level will be asked to discuss areas for improvement.

Users will also be rewarded for posts, critiques and other in-app activities with points. As the community grows, Bursky envisions rewarding active users with such benefits as being featured in a spotlight section of top Creators and Critiquers, the potential to be paid or gifted prizes for critiques and the ability to connect with professional industry Critiquers. Also in the works are private Critiqr groups for use in classroom settings where teachers or moderators can oversee their own virtual workshop.

Though the app is free to use — a priority for Bursky in optimizing accessibility — there are plans to implement paid features to further enhance the experience. She also hopes that film is just the beginning for her app. “I envision Critiqr becoming a platform for all forms of art,” Bursky says. “We ultimately plan on branching out to accommodate musicians, visual artists, writers, etc.” critiqrapp.com 

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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