Secret Success, Fiasco, or Failure?

How do you break it to someone who's worked really long and hard on a project, and you think it's a total mess? As in, borderline failure? That's been the dilemma I've had for the last few days after I saw a short film a friend of mine made.

For the last few years, my friend has had difficulty finishing anything. Stopping and starting college, he found his calling by doing an intense 18-month film program. After a number of a sleepless nights and at least one moment of stress-induced vomiting, he had a version of his 20-minute film to show friends and family last week.

While I thought the film looked good and the script was fine, I had this sinking feeling shortly into it. The actors sounded like they just sight-read the script and then the cameras started rolling. Many lines, as a result, sounded incredibly stilted and forced.

In hopes of not being the asshole that kicks over the sandcastle, I wrote my comments down on the comment card and hoped that my friend didn't take it personally.

With all the stuff I write, I try to give the benefit of knowing what it's like to work insanely hard on something and it doesn't turn out the way you imagined it. Sometimes it turns out better; many other times it's way worse. But I always give credit to people who actually try to do something instead of constantly complain and criticize.