Dealing with Rejection in Filmmaking


Drew and I knew from the beginning that starting a film production company wouldn’t be all champagne, premiers and after-parties. After all, we don’t have money falling out of our pockets (yet), we aren’t BFFs with Eddie Redmayne and we certainly don’t do jazz-er-cise with Danny Boyle on Sunday mornings*. We are two people with an – albeit excellent – idea who are starting from scratch; that is pretty easy for people (a.k.a. gatekeepers) to dismiss out of hand.

We were both prepared for this rejection, however, the reality has taken some getting used to. Humans instinctively shy away from the possibility of rejection and failure. (It is the only thing holding you back from asking out that “hottie” in the coffee shop who always makes little hearts in your morning flat white. That, or, I guess, you already have a “hottie” and don’t want another.) We had to overcome this fear because hiding from rejection is not an option in this game. So here are my hard learned tips for dealing with rejection from the last few months:

  1. They aren’t rejecting you, they are rejecting your lack of credentials. It is well known in IT that “no one ever got fired for buying IBM”. Gatekeepers don’t want to take the personal risk of backing you based on no evidence. We have tried to combat this by teaming up with well known organisations who are working towards the same goal. All of a sudden you have some credibility.
  2. Speaking to people face to face is infinitely better than email, with phone calls somewhere in between. 93% of all communication is non-verbal, with a whopping 55% coming from body language. Why box with one hand behind your back when you can win someone over with your engaging, open body language?


    Fig1: Engaging and open body language. Impossible to reject!

  3. Know that someone, someday will say “yes”. If your idea is solid, you prepare your pitch well and you call enough people you will get that all important green light. And when you do make sure you enjoy it.

Good luck!

*I cannot say whether Danny Boyle actually does do jazz-er-cise at the weekend. I am simply saying that we do not do jazz-er-cise with him. On Sundays anyway…

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