I received a rejection letter today. I’m not going to get into what it was for - it doesn’t matter for this post - and there are aspects of my life that I simply don’t want to share on this platform. What does matter is how it made me feel. Honestly? How do you feel when you receive a rejection letter? Not that great, huh? I mean, I wasn’t planning my life around receiving the opposite of a rejection letter, but I did have some hopes tied into it. I almost wrote that I had dreams tied up in that letter too, but I’m not sure that I actually did. In fact, for a few weeks before receiving the letter, I had come to the realization that I probably wouldn’t receive the outcome that I was looking for. There was just something about it. And I realized that what I had originally been seeking when I applied for the thing that this letter was in reference to, had changed. I no longer wanted what I had asked for. My life had already moved on and I had prepared myself for rejection. Yet, in holding that letter in my hands after a rather difficult few months, it felt like the nail on the coffin. I’d finally hit the bottom.
After texting a couple of friends about how this rejection made me feel; about how I should just quit making films altogether; find a new career; find a new passion; find a new life; my thoughts surrounding the rejection started to change. Especially when the response from one friend in particular was basically: Fuck you, you don’t get to quit. She didn’t say those exact words, but that’s the abridged version.
Fuck you, you don’t get to quit.
What felt like a difficult and heartbreaking blow, not devastation (remember, I’d already prepared myself for this), changed within minutes after texting with her and another friend. They’re filmmakers too. They get it. They fully get what it means to have the mind and heart of an artist who wants to create and be loved. And when you get told, NO, not today, your mind goes into a tailspin and you then have to convince yourself that you can still create and you are still loved and you are good at what you do. And fuck that.
So, I have a new film to create. This letter kicked me hard in the gut, the ass, the tit, my neck hole, my entire body. It kicked me when I was already down, because I am going through some personal shit and it does not feel good down here. It was that one last thing that I needed to throat-punch me, then immediately force my head back into the game, pick myself up, and keep moving forward without this letter of approval that I thought I wanted. I don’t need what I thought I needed. Life shifted between my application and this rejection letter. Life shifted so much that I was even rethinking and regretting what I had applied for. Hell, my life at this very moment has already shifted from the moment I woke up this morning! And I have a damn pimple on my face to prove it now!
I have a film that I want to create. The idea came a few weeks ago while talking to a couple of my brunch buddies at my weekly Sunday brunch. I have a film and within minutes of opening and reading that inspiring letter tonight, this film flashed again into my mind and heart with such ferocity that I know that this film is what comes next. I still have my film festival to build, I still have my day-job, and I have a good number of films I’m creating for local nonprofits that my heart and soul are fully vested in, but this new film… this one is special. I’m creating this one for me. And I’m going to do it without approval.