Don’t Quit Filmmaking: How To Deal With Rejection As A Filmmaker

There are countless reasons why filmmakers quit. But perhaps the most common culprit is rejection.

All filmmakers face pushback when trying to build a career. Whether it’s a well meaning parent suggesting a more “stable” job, or an envious friend discouraging their creativity.

Early on, most filmmakers are able to shut out the noise and keep going, at least for a period of time.

But inevitably, at some point they start to face real rejection from the industry. And when that happens, it calls back and validates all the negative feedback they’ve received.

Earlier this week I shared this via social media:

Please don’t quit filmmaking because a festival rejected your film.

More often than not, films are rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with quality:

– Too many other films in the same genre
– Too many submissions to get a fair shake
– Not enough “star power” or agency push
– Not enough slots open for blind submissions

If festivals are your goal, you can optimize for them through casting, networking, and other means. Or you can take another path entirely. Many films have had massive success without the festival circuit.

I shared this after witnessing yet another talented filmmaker throw in the towel, simply because a festival said no to their film.

This scenario is more common than not. A filmmaker is rejected (by a festival, agent, financier, or some other gatekeeper), and feels like their career is going nowhere.

To them, a rejection means they aren’t talented or worthy. So they make the tough decision to quit.

But in reality, they were just barking up the wrong tree. And they hadn’t yet framed rejection for what it is.

Most people are wired to take external rejection as a clear cut sign that they aren’t good enough. That they don’t have enough talent to succeed.

But this couldn’t be further from reality. Talent has almost nothing to do with who succeeds and who doesn’t. Perseverance is a far better indicator of who makes it.

There are plenty of valid reasons to quit filmmaking, don’t get me wrong.

It might not bring you joy any more or you may have found some other medium that is more exciting to you.

But if you’re going to quit, don’t do it because of someone else’s opinion. No matter whose it may be.

If you could only see how festivals were programmed, how agents chose their clients, or how financiers decided to fund their films, you wouldn’t feel like the world is falling out when your film gets rejected.

Gatekeepers are historically bad judges of quality and talent.

So by all means, submit your films for consideration. Just don’t let a rejection letter blow up your whole world.

It literally means nothing, unless you give it meaning.

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About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!


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  • Cas127

    Another point – given the new technologies, filming is less expensive than ever (although still money that could go to food/housing…) and streaming means at least *somebody* is more likely than ever to see your film (maybe not a *ton* of somebodies…but somebodies).

    Decent example…the Gravitas streaming channel. 10 years ago, none of their films would have the audience they do today. Not a *huge* audience…but a much bigger audience than previously.

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