Submitting Vs. Disappointment


I am about six months into the submission process for my first short film, Lapse, and what I have learned thus far has been very valuable and very painful. The frustrating purity and ephemeral futility of hindsight can be a difficult cross to bear and a trying threshold to cross; my initiation into professional filmmaking has proven to be wrought with such wisdom gleaned from the consequences of missteps and misconceptions. This is not to say that I've only made mistakes, far from it, but it is to say that the road to acceptance is not a safe, clearly marked journey.

My short film has been accepted to one festival out of the seven I've heard from so far. It was accepted to the first festival I submitted to, creating a false and sudden sense of invincible destiny for my film and myself as a filmmaker. I've heard tell of the steep, almost insurmountable tsunami-like waves of disappointment filmmakers (artists of all mediums, in fact) have to face and endure to reach a place of practical recognition, let alone success. As artists we want our creations to be seen, experienced, shared. That is very much what submitting to festivals is all about: being seen and being accepted as artists, as filmmakers. But there are so many forces, people, situations, and opinions to be contended with to reach such a place, all operating beyond the direct influence of the individual filmmaker and therefore beyond his or her control.

The most difficult experience I've had by far in my filmmaking career has been the waiting... Waiting and hoping that some unknown individuals decide to accept in their film festivals the work of art that I have invested more time, effort, money, and soul in than any other personal creative endeavor in my life. That's a lot to put on one's shoulders and hold for months at a time, reinforcing every time another hope fails and another screener goes out.

All of this is to say... is to share the truth of the struggle against my most dreaded and dedicated foe: My Expectations. I chose to make a film not fully of my own will. That may sound like bullshit, but it is not. I felt compelled. I continue to feel compelled. All the while, through all my self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-absorption, I am keenly aware of the slow death of my ego in the face of my true path - one that is not safe, not clearly marked but wholeheartedly followed, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, regardless of the outcome.

So I continue to hope, continue to submit, continue to believe in what I know to be true: I am the happiest and the most helpful when I am creating, sharing, risking, and loving through the art that chose me: Filmmaking.

"Most people don’t know what they want or feel. And for everyone, myself included, It’s very difficult to say what you mean when what you mean is painful. The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to… As an artist, I feel that we must try many things – but above all, we must dare to fail. You must have the courage to be bad – to be willing to risk everything to really express it all."
–John Cassavetes

Image from "Lapse"