Another day, another rejection. This iteration from a film festival rejecting my feature film the black sea. So empty and meaningless on the one hand and so impossibly hard to take on the other. Backstory: I've been directing in earnest for about 5 years. Made several shorts and a feature and received exclusively rejection from festivals. This followed 7 years in Los Angeles during and after film school, peddling spec screenplays that never found takers so there is a history here, a pattern of NO. My natural internal response is to build a narrative made of equations, if this then thats, something to the order of my screenplay rejected = my screenplay sucks; my short film rejected = my short film must be terrible; my feature film rejected = my feature film was ill-advised and I should have hung it up years ago and now I'll just be left w/ the crushing financial debt of making the film as an endless reminder of my talentlessness. The longer I continue, the more calcified this narrative becomes, the more definitive, a self-serving poisonous loop reinforcing its own existence. The problem with these equations are the factors they omit - the particulars of the spec screenplay marketplace, the variables and machinery of film festivals, the artistic aim/intent of my projects fitting into some digestible, commercial construct - and the reduction of these complex omissions into a yes/no couplet that ties directly to my infantile need for approbation (which should not factor in to artmaking but which invariably is a drive for some, okay, for me.)
Let me re-iterate some basic points I've made before, primarily for my benefit:
1) I did not make 'the black sea' to find commercial success, I made it because I had to tell/expell the film. (note: I am not rejecting commercial success here b/c I'd love some)
2) Acceptance in a film festival is not the same as making a good film.
3) Rejection is a vital component of any artistic enterprise
4) Remember this lojong in perpetual, eternal white flashing loops:
Don't Expect Applause.
5) On to the next one.
6) when in doubt see 4 and 5
7) Film history is rife with films that were scorned/ignored at release but that time has been kind to. Is the value diminished? Better yet should the value be tethered to audience response/interaction at all?
8) the artist is fed her/his own equation across a lifetime, both in and out of artistic pursuit: hard work = reward. if this then that. if you pour yourself into your work, if you slave and scrimp and sacrifice and sweat then it will all be worth it. If you just write one more spec then that will be the one. If you make short films then that will lead to great things. If you just make a feature then you will be in a different place. If you work hard then it will pay off. I submit that this is still true (perhaps evidence of my mania) but the definition of 'pay off' has morphed and mutated over the years, into something like #9
9) the work is the reward is the work is the reward is the work is the reward is the work is the reward is the work is the reward is the work is the reward is the work is the reward is the reward is the reward is the work
10) Don't Expect Applause.
I have been surprisingly flattened by the news of Robin Williams' death. The particulars yes are horrible and dark but the mere fact of him not existing any longer is what caught me off guard. I did not revere him per se or track or follow him or hold him in some high celebrity esteem. But what I've learned in 24 hours or so after I discovered he died is that he occupied a bigger place than I knew. I ache with his passing and I cannot figure out why or better put, I cannot articulate why. There is something in here about a collective mourning, something about my (our) own mortality reflected back to me, something about my memory of seeing DPS at Perimeter Mall in Summer 89 - 25 yrs - with Carmen and Amy and Will (who was visiting from Charlotte) and me absolutely losing it in the "O Captain My Captain' scene, something about cinema when it functions as intended on a deeper, molecular plane where things - ideas, emotions, people - are fixed and inviolable like air, planets, stars, and lastly something about how all this - good, bad and in-between, has a shelf-life. Sixty-three eyeblinks. Not so different or far from my forty-two eyblinks. Not so far from the twenty-five eyeblinks ago where I am sitting in the dark in Atlanta with my friends, watching Robin W on screen. I don't know what it means or how to source this sadness. All I can say definitively is that I am unspeakably sad and that I and we are the poorer for his absence.
Portland writer/directors @brian_padian & @AABlatt both are finalists in the screenplay contest. Live reading 8/29 2:30PM @prophotosupply— Portland Film Fest (@portlandfilm) August 7, 2014
honored to be panelist at @portlandfilm panel 8/27 on Screenwriting & Indpt filmmaking. 730pm. http://t.co/gUQX5hqLaC— Brian Padian (@brian_padian) August 7, 2014
Honored to be here ! RT @needmore: Now #OnTheJob, @brian_padian of @TheBlackSeaFilm fame. http://t.co/LY5rDfREb3 pic.twitter.com/kmhmagRdvM
— the black sea movie (@TheBlackSeaFilm) August 1, 2014
I appeared on the great podcast The Job recently, talking about the black sea movie and a bit of my life in Portland and Los Angeles and here and there. I am not a fan of listening to myself talk (despite my wife's contrary opinion) so I have trouble hearing it but I know I am not alone in issues of self-regard. Check it out and let me know what you think