Few days ago another foundation let me know that they aren’t supporting my project.
How does one deal with rejection?
I heard that some young filmmakers proudly wallpaper their bathrooms with rejection letters they get from film festivals. As if their response to the rejection was:
– Yeah, see you later!
Yeah, I’ll soak the paper with the smell of my shit. Yeah, see who is going to be right when I’ll win an Oscar.
But to me such a reaction is a confirmation to one’s helpless inferiority.
I mean, inferiority is the other side of the coin. On the top side is the shining superiority. While making a film one might give herself to the grand fantasies of making it big. Well, one must give herself to those fantasies, otherwise the work will never get done. It’s the carrot in front of the pony. The film in the making will be “the groundbreaking film of all generations”, “the startling discovery of the bright new star”, “the chainsaw that will smother Tarantino’s fame” and so on.
I wallow on those sort of fantasies, they keep me alive.
Once the film is made one has to open the eyes to the reality.
Well, Sundance didn’t want the film, because:
1) they didn’t get to the end of 8000 submission pile, so they didn’t see it
2) they didn’t see it because there is no name no fame attached to the film
3) because Sundance these days is a sell-out, they don’t accept truly independent films
4) the film sucks
5) Sundance sucks
Which is the correct answer?
A couple of times when I was invited to do a selection of animated shorts at some festivals, I discovered that selection process is much like a lottery. There are 3 or 5 of us, all different people with different tastes.
– I love “Mush”!
– I hate “Mush”! Only over my dead body!
– But I hate “Dong” that you feel so hot about!
– “Dong” is in!
– Over my dead body.
– Guys, cant you talk calmly? Can’t wee agree on something? How about “Song”?
– “Song” is only so so. But I can agree on “Song”.
So, mediocre “Song” is in and “Mush” that at least two people felt passionately (although polarizingly) about – is out.
How can one think that Sundance is like one headed person who makes comprehensible, rational decisions?
Programming it must be like driving a stick shift bus with 300 unruly children, under a high fever. Some choices are accidental.
After sitting on a couple of selection committees I don’t get upset anymore when my film is rejected. It’s part of the job I do. I make a film, I submit it to 150 festivals and I get about 70 rejection letters.
But what do I do when a foundation, not a festival, rejects a support for my project?
When a rejection might mean the film will never get completed?
In theory, I regroup, do my research and come up with another strategy.
In practice… I don’t know. I get blue sometimes.
But you still wont see rejection letters on my bathroom walls.
Anger is not what fuels me. Determination is.


About rocksinmypocketsthemovie

I was born in Latvia, educated in Moscow, live in New York. I have made about 14 animated shorts so far.
This entry was posted in Hazards of being an artist and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rejection

  1. You definitely have a book developing here. Your writing is just great, and maybe you could garner a couple of sheckels for that to put into your film. I know, it’s a tangent. But it might be part of the rainbow.

    You’ll be comforted to know that I was just rejected from a Foundation as well. I had no paper goodies to hang in my bathroom (as if I ever would!) It was a cold, bloodless email sent out to all of the losers. You didn’t get the grant because of a) b) c) or d). Thankyou for the personal rejection slip.

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