Weinstein feedback to Errol Morris

From the entertaining Tumblr blog Letters of Note is this letter from then Miramax head honcho Harvey Weinstein to Errol Morris at the time The Thin Blue Line was in release.

Without the full context of their correspondence up until then, and having not seen Morris's performance on NPR, it's difficult to interpret fairly. But a few thoughts:

  • As feedback goes, it's efficient. Learning to give and receive honest feedback is critical in business, and being overly sensitive is a barrier to achieving good work. We're all human, of course, and it's perhaps impossible to take criticism of one's work with complete impartiality, but given enough repetitions, one can cultivate a professional receptivity that leads to more efficient interchanges. I like to think of standup comedians honing their routines in the most brutal of environments, the small comedy club, receiving instant feedback in the form of laughter or, in the worst case, jeers. There's a certain courage and maturity required to submit to unmoderated feedback, and more of the world needs it in the age of the internet, where anonymous feedback through mediums like email and blogs and Twitter comes with zero cost.

  • Plenty of successful executives have a cultivated the personality of an enfant terrible. But is the sarcasm really necessary? "If you have any casting suggestion, I'd appreciate that." That needless dig doesn't ease the reception of any useful feedback in the note. Just on a purely economic basis, I've never understood the fascination on the part of so many people in the entertainment business with being assholes, it would seem like a bad move in a world where it's difficult to predict who you might need to work with again given the variability of success on the part of even the industry's brightest talents.