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The secret to surviving rejection

For every triumph and award, there are thousands of hopefuls who didn’t make the cut. Here's our tips for turning rejection into learning curves.

The secret to surviving rejection

Festival season is upon us. For every triumph and award, there are thousands of film industry hopefuls who just didn’t make the cut. While work after a rejection can feel like an uphill struggle, pushing forward in the face of adversity can make or break our creative careers. Here are our tips for turning negative experiences into motivating learning curves.

Ask for feedback

Some festivals & competitions don’t provide feedback for anyone other than finalists, but feel free to reach out and request it regardless of their policy. You might find the judges didn’t think your work fitted in with the category you entered or fell in line with their overall mission & vision.

You might’ve made a mistake when uploading your file or entered a genre piece which didn’t fit into the competition. Be polite, courteous, friendly, and respectful, and you might just make an ally in the organization for when you submit the next time.

Analyze the competition finalists. What did they do that you didn’t?

After the competition, try to get hold of the work that was shortlisted or, even better, actually show up to the festival and participate in the readings/screenings. Deduce what the finalists did that you didn’t. Do they have a clear narrative voice? Did they design a killer opening credits sequence? Is their cinematography on point? Are their screenplays properly formatted? Look for anything they did that you didn’t, and learn from their success.

Keep your head down & rock on

While it’s easy to become demoralized when you face a rejection or, in the case of most filmmakers & writers, a series of rejections, you have to keep moving in order to gain results. Remember: one person’s Citizen Kane is another’s Bio-Dome. Keep tightening up your processes, learning from your mistakes, getting feedback from your community, learning from your heroes, and believing in yourself.

Good luck!

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Simone Barbon's ghostwriting resume is long and illustrious, though you'll never see it. She is also a screenwriting teacher and freelance script reader. Her grandson is her favorite thing to watch, though.

simoneb@filmdaily.co