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On Rejections

In a new piece on Medium, Evelyn Lee shares her experience on dealing with rejection from film festivals and how to keep going.

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March 22, 2019
by Evelyn Lee

How To Deal With Rejection

You won’t get into every film festival and that’s okay.

Rejection always hurts. We all think we can handle rejection until we’re faced with it. When you receive that dreaded rejection letter from a film festival, it can feel personal. Sometimes, maybe too personal.

We start to doubt ourselves. Were all those hours, sweat, and tears not enough? Are you a bad filmmaker? Did you make a bad movie? Is there enough money left in the budget for more submissions?

But these rejections shouldn’t take away from the fact that you worked hard on a passion project. Making a movie is never easy, and the fact that you made one is an incredible feat in itself. And, of course, art is subjective. Not everyone is going to like your movie — and that’s okay.

I’m lucky enough to have gotten acceptance letters to multiple festivals throughout my career, but for each congratulatory letter, there were at least three rejections. I had one film that was rejected from every single festival I submitted to, but resonated deeply with an audience it ultimately found online.

As much as we hate to admit it, rejection is part of the process. Everyone deals with it differently, but we all have to find a way to move on.

Here are the top three ways that have helped me tremendously over the years:

  1. Acceptance.
    I have to accept the fact that I’m not going to Sundance. After all, I’m in great company. Thousands of films from many respect filmmakers get rejected by Sundance — and many other festivals — every year. I’m not alone. I’ll be okay. The sooner I accept it, the sooner I can go back to creating.
  2. Turn it into positivity and encouragement.
    Instead of channeling all that negative energy moving forward, you have to remember that you still have a movie you need to put out into the world! Use rejection as encouragement to help you find the perfect way to share your film with your audience. If you still have budget left over for festival submissions, submit to more festivals. If not, the options are endless in how we can share our work with a global audience these days. Work with your team on choosing the best one. Get creative!
  3. Keep going.
    Don’t let these rejections discourage you from telling your stories and sharing your vision with the world. Keep going. Write your next script. Get to crowdfunding that next film. Keep honing your craft. Keep creating! And one day soon, you will receive more yeses than noes.

Don’t give up! ❤️