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A pep talk for moments of failure

Today we have a guest post written by Candice Vallantin where she describes the process between production and the promotion of her first short film. Nowadays this process comes together if you want to make sure your short, feature film or documentary works out there. You need to keep going…


This May, I finished my first short film. It consumed my thoughts and weekends for eight months, but finally, it’s done.

Well, that’s what I thought. Now, this whole other kind of work begins: the process of marketing and submitting to film festivals. I underestimated how much effort it would take.

Now instead of daydreaming about the ideal location for that scene, the great shot, that perfect light, my days are filled with loglines, synopses, bios, photos, the website, Facebook, and countless film festival applications. The process is long and tedious and painful.

I cringed a bit when I realized that social media wasn’t optional if I wanted film festivals to take me seriously.

I was like, “ You mean I have to spam all of my friends with breathless posts about my self-indulgent 8 minutes of footage for several months?” And they all have to “like” it? But what if they don’t? Or what if they do “like” it and no film festivals want to screen this short? Or even worse, what if my friends and family finally see the film, and it sucks!?

What could have been a private failure without Facebook, is now such a public one? Failing is hard enough as it is, do I have to fail publicly too?

So yes, the answer is yes. I do have to fail, and I probably have to fail publicly before I can celebrate success. The message came through loud and clear last week when I received the first of what is likely to be many film festival rejections

I was disappointed for a moment, and then rather quickly, not entirely surprised. It was sort of like starting a hike before dawn. You can’t see the pique you’re about to climb because it’s still covered in the early morning fog, but then the sun rises and the fog disappears, and suddenly you find yourself at the foot of this immense 4,000-foot mountain. It was there all along, and you knew what you were getting yourself into, it’s just so much more real now that you can see it before you.

So here I am, at the foot of this mountain. If you’re reading this, maybe you’re at this point too.  You’ve created the website and the Facebook page, and some of your friends have liked it, but not all of them, and you’re sort of too embarrassed to harass them about it for now. You’ve submitted to dozens of festivals, and you know that in the next few weeks and months, it’s likely that many of them will say no.

But we’re going to keep climbing that mountain. We might not make it to the very top this time around, but we could make it halfway. A few of those festivals might say yes. And because we’re stubborn and optimistic and persistent, we will see our work on a big screen somewhere, someday.

When I started this project, all I really wanted to do was to create something from start to finish. I wanted to take this vision that had been haunting me and to make it come to life. And whether it gets into festivals or not, I did it, I finished it, and I met some amazing friends and colleagues along the way. That alone is a success worth celebrating.

So now I’m going to keep following through to the bitter end, even if that end includes a lot of rejection. Even if falling off that mountain hurts. I’m already plotting the next project, so I’ll get up there one day.

Learn more about Monday here:

Monday Short Film 


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