Rejection is a fact of life. It’s also very much a fact of working in the film industry. Anyone who’s serious about working in film has to expect to be turned down.
Of course, it’s not easy. Arguably, it never does get easy, no matter how long you’ve been involved in the industry, what level you’ve reached or how many times you’ve been knocked back.
The hardest thing I’ve experienced as an aspiring writer/director is that it doesn’t just feel that it’s you that’s been rejected. That’s because, to put it bluntly, it isn’t. It’s your idea that’s been dismissed as well.
This is particularly tough to take , as your ideas, and the projects that come as a result of them, mean something to you. Some might even be extremely personal. Other ideas might have taken a lot of time to produce. In the case of a script, it could have gone through many drafts before submission.
Rejection is also something that you can’t really avoid when you’re starting out in the film and media industries. However, to be blunt again, if you want your ideas to be universally loved and respected, don’t show them to anybody. Leave the script in the bottom drawer, and the finished edit of your film on the portable hard drive. Or only show it to your family and friends. That way, everyone will like it. (Unless you have really honest relatives and friends, of course.)
So, whether it’s submitting a script or applying for a job, there is always the chance that you won’t make the grade.
As hard as it is, getting a knock back can also be an opportunity to get even better at your craft. For example, if a script that you’ve submitted isn’t accepted, think of it as another chance to look at it again, to see if anything can be improved upon. If a film you’ve sent in to a festival for consideration is rejected, there may be many other festivals who are willing to show it.
In any case, the most important thing is that it helps you develop the discipline to persevere, and learn to deal with criticism. Taking on constructive advice and criticism is one of the best ways to grow as an artist, especially when it comes from people who’ve been in your chosen field for many years.
Setbacks are part and parcel of being a filmmaker, from creative differences to budget problems, to location issues and actors pulling out, making films is fraught with potential difficulties.
What matters is how you deal with them. Do you get disheartened, and want to throw in the towel? Or do you carry on, remembering why you love films and filmmaking in the first place?