In our filmmaker mastermind, we talk a lot about how to overcome filmmaking rejection. It’s easy at times to feel like a failed pitch is the end of your career. But it’s not. The truth is, no matter how many films you’ve made, sometimes you pitch an idea and it falls flat.
There are many factors that go into the success of a pitch. And you can’t expect a one-time pitch to make or break you as a filmmaker. This is not only important for long-term stability, but also because making movies is something you can do your whole life.
How To Deal With Filmmaking Rejection (Like A Pro)
A couple years ago, I sat in on a panel discussion where a few established producers shared their stories of success and failure. During the question and answer session, a filmmaker from the audience stood up and boldly pitched his TV series idea (political subject-matter) to the producers. After making his pitch, he asked:
“What do you think?”
One of the producers responded, saying the idea could be interesting with the right execution.
“Would you consider making it?”
The producer responded that making a series wasn’t really her focus or skill set. She clarified that her focus was narrative family films, targeting the international market. And upon hearing this, the filmmaker got visibly agitated.
“Why not? Surely my idea has global appeal?”
This sort of heated questioning went on for an uncomfortably long time, until the producer finally said:
“Look. It’s not what I do. I don’t produce television.”
How To Pitch Like A Pro… And Go For NO!
At that point, the filmmaker scoffed out of the auditorium.
My point here is this:
1. Pitch With Style: While I commend this filmmaker for his boldness, his communication style was not attractive.
2. Know Your Buyer: As the saying goes, the dog was barking up the wrong tree. The producer does not produce documentary television. So the odds of getting her interested in his show were very low.
3. Focus On Relationships: Instead of focusing on making a good impression and possibly building a long term relationship with the producer (and other filmmakers in the audience) this guy choose to get upset and bail.
Pitching and facing filmmaker rejection is an experience shared by all of us. It’s part of the challenge. And it is part of the fun. Just because a prospective “buyer” rejects one opportunity, there is nothing stopping you from finding someone else who has the completely opposite perspective.
I can’t stress this enough. You cannot “level up” your career without the support of other people who want to work with you. If you are not facing filmmaking rejection daily, you’re not pushing hard enough. And in your hustle, always focus on relationships first, and the business will follow. And while you’re here, make sure to check this filmmaking training.