Not As Boring As I Thought!
A blog post by Greg
I think that by far one of my favourite reviews of one of my live shows came from a young child who came up to me at the end of a school performance with a great big smile on her face and offered the now immortal words:
“You know, that wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be!”
I, of course, descended into laughter at the horrified look on the teacher’s face, and immediately asked if I could use the quote on my next poster – I thought that “Greg Chapman: Not As Boring As You Think” would be a great poster line, although, as I write it now, I wonder if it would be better served as the title of a show!
For the record, I think that the child had really enjoyed the show, which is why her double-edged compliment was so funny to me. Taking a step back, for a moment, it is actually a very useful review to receive, because it was nice, friendly, delivered in good spirit, and unintentionally helpful! Hidden inside the comment was an important message, and, as a person who likes words and tries hard to listen to the words people actually say, I started to deconstruct the sentence as I packed up my kit.
Other children had said lovely things – ‘great magic’, ‘I really liked your show’, ‘you are the best live entertainer of your generation and perhaps of all time you incredible genius’ (I may have made the last one up) – but their words, though lovely to hear, weren’t as interesting to me as that one child with her backhanded compliment.
The heart of the sentence which mattered to me was ‘I thought that was going to be boring’.
What an interesting sentiment to consider taking into a show, and one which is important to consider. As it was a school show, I am absolutely fine with the students going in thinking like that, expecting a boring lecture or presentation and then being pleasantly surprised with the fact that my show goes in a very different direction to what they might expect.
When selling the show to the teachers initially, however, or when selling a show to a theatre or selling tickets for an event, the last thing I would want is to give the impression in the marketing materials that the show was going to be boring – nobody is going to buy a ticket for a boring looking show in the hopes that they will be surprised by it!
So reviews, to me, were always useful when there was something that I could take away from them, something that we could build on, and the same is very much true of our videos. Take, for example, this review on the Prime Video page for our ‘Romania: Seeking Dracula’s Castle’ documentary:
Looked at objectively, this is a fantastic review – four stars for our first documentary on Prime Video, where Planet Earth, for example, averages 4.5 stars, we’re very happy with (our average is also 4.5 stars, but, I will be the first to admit, over significantly fewer reviews!).
There is, however, half a sentence of criticism hidden amongst the compliments, the words:
“Yes the sound quality is a bit poor at times, and at other times the exposure is less than ideal.”
There are several ways to deal with criticism like this. The first is the way in which I have seen far too many performers and artists react to it, which is to get angry about it and to decide that the person dishing out the criticism must be wrong because they dared give one piece of criticism in an otherwise lovely review, and not even a bad piece of criticism!
The second is to get upset. I will admit that at times I have become upset about reviews, but never one like this. I will get upset by a review that is fundamentally unfair or deliberately rude (for example, one accusing us of Xenophobia against Turkish people because we dared mention that Vlad had learned his torture methods while held prisoner by the Ottoman Sultan!), but even then I am slowly learning to let those flow like water off a duck’s back, especially as more and more people leave good reviews to drown out the few like that.
The third way, and the way that I endeavour to read any constructively intended review (and it is important to only care about those that are actually intended constructively), is to listen to the points made, both good and bad, and see if I can agree with them and whether they matter to us.
In the review I have included above, for example, I was very pleased to read that for this person our enthusiasm had come through in the video, as this is something that I try really hard to ensure comes through in the final edit.
The comments about sound and exposure were also fair and useful, and gave us something to focus on with the technical side of things. In fact, looking through the reviews we have on that project, sound was mentioned a couple of times, which means that we needed to make that a big focus. As a result we have invested in new sound equipment, including wireless microphone units and lapel microphones, and a new studio microphone for the voiceovers, and I have spent a lot more time studying sound recording and reading books on the subject, and have notes on another couple of pieces I want to complete our kit to make sure that on our next travel documentary the sound takes a big leap forward! We are also looking at upgrading our camera when finances allow to allow us more control over things like exposure!
This, artistically is where reviews are most useful, taking those that are clearly meant in a positive and constructive manner, and getting to the bottom of what useful facts they contain to help us to improve with each passing video.
There is, however, another way that reviews help not only us, but every filmmaker, author, creator and small business owner that you know, and that is the dual points of ‘algorithms’ and ‘crowd authority’.
Basically, we need reviews! It is something that I am heavily focused on at the moment with the recent release of ‘Seeking Cetaceans In Scotland‘, as I try to encourage those people who have watched the documentary on Prime Video to leave it a review there, and I would also encourage you to leave reviews for any other creative whose work you have enjoyed!
The first part of this is the algorithms, the clever secret method by which places like Prime Video, Amazon, Google, YouTube and other search based sites decide when to recommend your work, and how high to rank you in search results. The exact algorithms are usually highly guarded secrets, but we know that engagement is key for most of them, so for our videos it would be a case of how many people have bought the documentary before, have those people then watched it all the way through, and then have they taken the extra effort to leave a review? An honest review is the icing on the cake, the thing that few people will get around to, and so really shows that somebody has engaged with the content, and so it will really help boost the work, and get it to show higher in searches and recommendations.
As important as this, if not more, is the concept of crowd authority.
Imagine, if you will, that you want to buy, for example, a new hat. A very nice hat, one which will keep the sun out of your eyes when it is too bright, but which will also keep your head warm in the cold. It is loose fitting enough that it doesn’t give you a headache, but even the strongest winds won’t blow it off. You are after the pinnacle of hats! Wait a minute… where was I going with this?
You have found two potential hats on an internet market place which look remarkably similar. They both fit all of your requirements, and unbelievably are exactly the same price. You look at every detail and they are exactly the same, and both get a review rating of 5 stars!
With a closer look, you see that one of the hats only has two reviews, however, while the other hat has over a thousand reviews. Which one do you buy?
Unless you are being deliberately obtuse, I would expect that most people will say the one with over a thousand reviews, and this is borne out in everything I have learned about reviews, and crowd authority. The more reviews are on something, the more people you can see have liked it, and therefore the higher the chances that the ‘wisdom of crowds’ is correct in telling you that it is a good product and, providing it is what you are looking for, worth buying.
The same is true of our documentaries on Amazon. While they are just launching and Seeking Cetaceans In Scotland has, at the time of writing, only two reviews, people who don’t know us are less likely to take the step of buying it than they will when it has ten, fifty or a hundred reviews.
That is why we are now setting ourselves a goal on a new release of 100 reviews in the first month! It will be a difficult push to get there, but will really make a big difference to the documentaries going forward, and so it is really worth it!
Now my plea to you! If you have seen any of our documentaries, please go and leave them a review, particularly if you have watched ‘Romania: Seeking Dracula’s Castle’ and ‘Seeking Cetaceans In Scotland’ on Prime Video.
More than that though, if you have a book you have read recently, or a video you’ve watched, or a place you’ve stayed, or something you’ve bought online that you really like, then please go and leave it a review! Two minutes of your time can mean the world to a creator! While you’re at it, you can also leave a comment here to let us know what you like about our blogs, and if there are any subjects you’d like us to talk about!
Happy adventuring, and please, take unbelievably good care of yourselves, and of each other!
If you enjoyed this blog post, please leave a comment and say ‘hello’!
For information on all of our projects, visit: www.gregandfelicityadventures.com
Follow us on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/gregandfelicity
Like us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GregandFelicityAdventures
There are various places you can watch our documentaries and series!
Seeking Cetaceans In Scotland: A two-part documentary about the work of the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit as they work to help whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Moray Firth in Scotland:
Free in the USA on Tubi TV at:
Free Worldwide on PlexTV at:
With a library card on the Hoopla service where applicable:
Free in the USA on Xumo at:
Buy it without ads Amazon’s Prime Video at:
(Greg and Felicity are donating half of our streaming income on this documentary to support the CRRU).
Available to buy on DVD (with £5 from each donated to the charity): https://ko-fi.com/s/73e469d114
ROMANIA: SEEKING DRACULA’S CASTLE: Our travel documentary looking into the history, legend and castles connected to Vlad Dracula III, sometimes known as Vlad the Impaler, and a journey around Romania:
Free Worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/movie/romania-seeking-draculas-castle
Free (USA) on Tubi: https://tubitv.com/movies/579192/romania-seeking-dracula-s-castle
Prime Video (From £1.99, no Ads) (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk//dp/B08RDPZP14
Prime Video (From $1.99, no Ads) (USA): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RDJR4F2
TURKEY: FAIRY CHIMNEYS AND UNDERGROUND CITIES: A travel documentary across Turkey, from the Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities of Cappadocia to the ancient Greek ruins of Ephesus and Hierapolis:
Prime Video UK (From £2.49, no Ads): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Turkey-Fairy-Chimneys-Underground-Cities/dp/B09KKSZLRW
Prime Video USA (From $1.99, no Ads): https://www.amazon.com/Turkey-Fairy-Chimneys-Underground-Cities/dp/B09KK6VDJB
Free Worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/movie/turkey-fairy-chimneys-and-underground-cities
Free (USA) on Tubi: https://tubitv.com/movies/579225/turkey-fairy-chimneys-and-underground-cities
Greg Chapman’s Magic Show: An eight-part series of magic and entertainment with Greg:
Free in the USA on Tubi at: https://tubitv.com/series/300008713/greg-chapman-s-magic-show
Free worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/show/greg-chapmans-magic-show/season/1
Available to buy on DVD: https://ko-fi.com/s/7c1bc10a08
Mexico: Mayan Mystery and Marine Majesty: Filmed on our honeymoon in Mexico in 2019, our first travel documentary took us through the ancient sites of Teotihuacan, Uxmal, El Tajin, Palenque, Chichen Itza and Calakmul, and then on to see the whales of Magdalena Bay, whale sharks of La Paz, and more.
Watch free on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yfMpD868MHU
The Isle of Man: Railways, Castles and Seals: Our second travel documentary took us to the Isle of Man!
Watch free on YouTube: https://youtu.be/uCpUa6XEkbg