Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dealing with Rejection in the Film Industry

OCTOBER 18, 2012


Hello fellow filmmakers.  And, by filmmakers I am referring to all of us who are involved in the film industry whether you are a producer, director, actor, investor, or crew.  In one way or another we are all connected to this industry.  We love the industry, we love working in the industry, and we love watching the results on our televisions, movie screens, and computers.  

I really can't think of a better industry.

However, as good as this industry gets, there are times when we all get frustrated, and no matter how hard we try we just can't seem to get the break we want and honestly that we deserve.  At every step of the way, I have often felt that as soon as I make headway with one-step forward, it seems that I get hit with three-steps backwards.  Well, that was until I finally figured how to cope with the setbacks and the rejections in this industry.  

It is very important to think of the definition of "rejection" differently from its actual meaning.  To me, the original definition is very negative and I really don't like it associated with this industry.  According to Webster's Dictionary, rejections means to refuse to accept or failure to accept a medical procedure and really doesn't match an actor being passed on by a director or a screenwriter by a production company.  Therefore, replace the definition with more of a positive meaning such as, "Rejection in the film industry is a beginning to search for another opportunity for an actor, screenwriter, director, or producer."  But, because the term is used frequently in this industry at all levels, I'll stick with the word for this article; but know that I mean it by my new definition. 

You see, it hasn't always been easy for me in this industry.  I am often accused of being lucky.  Like hell I am.  I work hard at everything I do.  If I stopped reaching for my dreams every time I received a rejection, I wouldn't be here writing this blog.  In fact, I probably would have been living on the beach somewhere, suntanning, reading a good book by Candy O'Donnell or Gypsy Elise, and boating.  Now, that sounds like a great life.  After all, I did retire in 2001 from education only to get bored in retirement and somehow find my way in the film industry.

Photo by Tim Moree'
Once in the film industry, I fell in love with it.  In fact, I fell in love with everything about it other than the rejections.  And, by rejections, first there was all of the rejections to find an agent.  Then, rejection after rejection with auditions.  I bet I am safe to say for every 200 auditions, I may have landed one role.  That didn't stop me.  I stuck with it.  

Then I discovered I really loved working behind the scenes.  I volunteered at first just to be able to get on a film set.  I took the opportunity to learn everything I could.  I asked a lot of questions, took jobs as a production assistant and soon found my way working up the ladder.  I think I have done every job with the exception of driving a truck, that's Robby, and the art department.  If you scan my resume you will see what I am talking about.  Again, for every job in the industry I have had, I applied for 100 more that I didn't get.  The funny thing, as a PhD, I was seen as either overqualified, because the degree intimidated them, or under qualified, because I didn't have official training in the area.  Whew!!!  I still didn't let that stop me.  I found away because I didn't give up.  And, frankly, never will.  Neither should you.

I have a quotation on my IMDB page, "When you dare to dream, you dare yourself," and I truly believe this.  This industry is a "daring dream" in which you have to take chances.  Along with those chances comes setbacks and rejections.  It is how you handle these that will make the difference for you in your career and your self-esteem.  

This week alone, I have received at least six phone calls from fellow film industry associates who for some reason or another were told "No" and rejected for something.  Three were actors, who didn't get a role in another film and wanted my opinion on their auditions so they could improve.  One was from a relative, one was from a business associate, and one was a friend.  I am here to tell you, if you plan to continue in this business, then you have to learn to accept and deal with rejection.

There are many reasons why it is important to know how to deal with rejection - what to do about it - and how to move forward without giving up.  I speak from personal experience on this area.  Trust me, over the years I have had to cope with relationships ending, such as dissolving a collaboration with a co-screenwriter, an editor who moved across the pond, an investor pulling out of a film, criticism from friends and foes, being brushed off or ignored; e.g., screenplays turned down, pilot shows rejected, and out right attacks on my integrity, which is another form of rejection.  However, after really getting a sense and understanding of how this industry works really helped me through all of this.  I also developed strategies which can be a real lifeline.

Ways to Cope with Rejection in the Film Industry

When you feel rejected, hurt, angry, disappointed, or let down, because you didn't get a role, your screenplay was turned down, or your television show didn't make the fall line-up, keep in mind that these are normal feelings. All of these emotions certainly play on your self-esteem and usually for the worse.  However, the way you handle your emotions is critical for your future in this business. It is important to remember that rejection and disappointment is everywhere in this industry and lurks at every turn.  But, often, a closed door is an open window into the best opportunity in your life.

You can take your rejection and let it motivate you or you can take your rejection and let it destroy you with insecurity.  I always use rejections and the "No's" in my life as a motivating force.  A force as strong as a category five hurricane.  Like Kelly Clarkson wrote in one of her songs, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  A rejection doesn't kill you - you're not dead yet.   

The very first thing I do with rejection is to stay positive.  Accept the fact, that it wasn't you, your screenplay, your acting, your directing etc., but rather, it just wasn't what the "Gatekeeper" was looking for at this time.  If you don't believe in yourself, how in the world do you expect others to believe in you?  There is someone out there who will discover that you and/or your project is perfect for them.

I also fill my mind with positive thoughts and don't let what others think or feel about me or my projects.  I know who I am and what I am capable of doing.    A perfect example is when I get "Blasted" as self-serving by "Slammers" for advertising my books in my blog.  Instead of letting it worry me or get me down, I think positive.  For instance, "This is my blog."  And, besides that, this blog isn't just for actors, it is also for producers, directors, and screenwriters who want to know about my books.

This means that you have to learn how to divert your attention away from ALL inner negative thoughts and stay focused on your goal.  This doesn't mean not to do a self-reflection for improving  or possibly handling a situation differently in the future.  I like to say, "A setback is nothing more than a setup for a comeback!"  That way, take each "No" or rejection as an opportunity to improve.

Re-engage with activities that put you back in control of your future and career objectives.  Include activities that you are great at to help you feel a sense of achievement.

Stay in contact with those who support you and encourage you.  Remember, in this industry, they have faced the same amount or even more rejections than you have.  In essence, your support team are your kindred spirits.  They understand you and get it!  They know what it is like to go through this.

Review your goals and set new goals if you have too.  Make sure to include small, medium, and large goals.  I like to even post mine on my wall in my office as a constant reminder of what I am wanting to achieve.  But, don't stop there.  Visualize what you would feel when you achieve your goal. 

Lastly, under no circumstances take rejection personally or view it as a personal attack.  The point is that behind this "NO" there is usually something more complex than what you can imagine going on behind the scenes.  To you, it's a simple case of rejection to your audition, screenplay or film.  That means you were on the receiving end of a "No."  To the person who is saying "NO," it is often more difficult on them.  They realize their "No," impacts your future and your dreams.  They acknowledge that you have put your heart and soul into your audition or project and most likely dread the moment of having to choose one actor or project over another.  

Again, I speak from personal experience after casting The Keystroke Killer.  At the same time, it was one of the most joyous moments for Robby and I because we finally could announce the cast; yet, it was the most dreaded as we had to say "no" (reject and pass on) to hundreds of actors.  It really was not only difficult to make these decisions, but it was also very emotional.  We also had to say "no" to many actors who we had become close friends.  We now face the same situation with A.D.A.M.  

The truth is, not everyone will be cast who auditions, nor will every crew who applies be employed.  That's just the way it is.  It has nothing to do with you personally being rejected.  Rather, it is the nature of this  industry.  It also has nothing to do with your worthiness - it's about you going forward, staying positive, and reaching your dreams.  In the end, your dreams will come true.  That a "No" is one step closer to the next "Yes." You have to have so many "No's" before you get to a "Yes."  It's the law of averages. So, be happy with that "No" because you are closer to your "yes."

By Dr. Melissa Caudle

You know the saying, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person."  Well, that pretty much describes my team over here at On the Lot Productions.  We not only are busy, but we stay busy.  I get asked all the time, "How do you find the time to do everything you do?"  To be perfectly honest, I don't know other than I am surrounded by a great team.  So, let me give you a couple of updates.


We are cast.  YEA!!!  I am looking forward to getting onto to set for filming early next year.  However, it takes a great deal of time to put something of this magnitude in place.  It also takes a very large team.  Frankly, what is happening with it is basically out of my hands other than the screenwriting and revision parts.  Why?  I don't hold the reins so speak as the investor's team does.  

Also, it is the bigwigs and the department heads that are making the decisions on set designs, locations, wardrobes, etc. and not me.  Yes, I'm updated, but because I don't live in Los Angeles I'm not prevy to the day to day operations until about January when the production offices open up etc.  So, just like the cast, I'm now sitting on pins and needles with you.  In fact, they aren't even releasing the scripts yet until all contracts go out in January.  Again, I'm not in charge of them either.  This isn't one of my indie films where I have total control.

It is my understanding that they are applying for their SAG STATUS in November.  That is good news for all of the actors involved.  I have also suggested that they go ahead and submit the project to IMDB.  I'll let you know what they decide to do on that end.

40 & LEROY

We are currently in our third season of 40 & Leroy which is directed and written by Reed McCants.  If you haven't caught a single episode, you can purchase Season 1 & 2 at  You can also view, for free, Season 3 at the same website or on Blip TV.


One of the first Indie films that I was an associate producer on, Girls Gone Gangsta, is currently for sale.  If you want to watch this film, directed by the Snider Brothers, and stars John Goodman and Don Mac, you can purchase here at this link.  It is being distributed by Phase 4 Films.  To watch the trailer click on the poster.


This film is complete and currently circulating at film festivals, including this week's New Orleans Film Festival.  Watch the trailer here.


The Dark Blue film, produced by New Guy Films in association with On the Lot Productions, directed by David C. Kirtland is currently in final post.  I'll let you know as soon as it is available. 



Take a peek at the trailer for West Nile Virus, directed and written by Dr. Melissa Caudle.  Casting won't begin probably until the Summer of 2013.

By Jack Curenton

In the beginning there was light.  More than a billion years later, there was a film called All About Eve.  And, coming in 2013, A.D.A.M., directed and written by Dr. Melissa Caudle.  Of course, if you are a fan of this blog site you already know this.  But, what you don't know is where we are in the casting process.  So, I'll spill the beans.

We are still in the process of accepting auditions from talent agents from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, New Orleans, and New York.  We have received the auditions from those we invited and are in the process of reviewing them.  Our plan is to review our A.D.A.M. family group submissions, then the agent submissions.  If we are not able to fill any particular role from there, we will expand our search and open it up to everyone for that role.

Additionally, Dr. Mel is going to sit in on area acting classes to invite actors who each fit role to audition.  She is also considering having the class conduct a cold read audition if they fit the role prior to their submissions.  She has used this process many time before and wants to do it again before she picks the final cast for A.D.A.M.  In fact, she has already made arrangements with Proclaim Talent and Veleka Gray's class.  And, speaking of classes, Dr. Mel wanted me to remind everyone that Christian Stokes is holding his auditioning workshops, so sign up as she want to go there as well.

So hang in there, it isn't over, put we are making progress.

By Robby Cook Stroud

I couldn't help but to share some things with you this week that have been going on in my life.  Like Dr. Mel, I too have faced difficult circumstances and life's disappointments and rejections.  I guess Mic Jaggar was right, "You can't always get what you want."  That doesn't mean we stop trying when you are faced with a dark tunnel.  I just remember to take it one hour at a time each day.

After editing Dr. Mel's Message this week, I received a phone call.  I want to share it with you as a way of saying, never give up.  I hope you find encouragement in this week's Dear Diary, if you are facing a difficult time in your life, or the next time something doesn't go your way.  As I always have said, "Things can always get worse, but count your blessings, when you see the light at the end of a dark tunnel."

Dear Diary,

Today I got a call from one of my applicants from the tornado that destroyed a 12 mile area in Joplin, Missouri last May.  His name is Cordova and is 23-years-old. 

Cordova's housing inspection is one I will carry with me all of my life.  In fact, he calls me every once in a while to give updates on his progress.  So, today's call wasn't something I'd consider as out of the ordinary.

I first met Cordova in Joplin, just a few days after the devastating tornado hit there.   When I arrived, his house he was waiting for me in his car.  His house was totally gone as only traces of rubble were left from being torn a part by the tornado.   

When he got out of his vehicle he was on crutches; both legs were bandaged, and he had a bandage on his head too.    His left nipple was torn off and had to be sewn back on, as well as his left ear. He was extremely happy to see me as he knew what organization I represented - he just needed to know that would be light at the end of his long dark tunnel.

Get the tissues,  your  going to need them as I finish this story.   

Cordova had lived in this house with his parents, his one-year-old son, and his dog prior to the tornado.   He was separated from his wife and that’s why he was living with his parents. 

He said, "When the sirens went off I pushed all of them in the bathtub and laid on top of them all." In a matters of seconds his life changed forever.  The darkest of tunnels seemed to go on forever as he recanted that horrible day.  He could still hear the "Train sound" now of the approaching tornado.

Within seconds, his house was totally gone. His Mom and Dad  were laying in the yard very hurt,  he scrambled to look for his son; which he found two houses over, or should I say two neighbor's yards over.  When he first saw his son, he felt relief.  However, the closer he got to him, fear and panic struck as he soon discovered his son was lifeless and not breathing.  Now, he was at the darkest point of the tunnel.   

By this time I’m crying along with him as he tells me his story. 

The day arrived his parents were still in ICU at the make shift hospital.   His son didn’t make it. 

There was a long silence as we both tried to catch our breath and hold back our tears.  Then he pointed to his dog who was still in the yard, but not alive.  The emotions for him were unbearable, and yet; he somehow had hope and compassion.

At this point I’m trying to console him.  I will never forget that hug that I gave him and he hugged me back what seemed like forever.  Then, we started to get to his property loss.   

He had hope when I left him.

He called me every day for guidance on how to handle his losses although I felt inadequate to help him through it all. Only thing I knew was to listen to him and do what I could to help him recover financially from the loss of his home.  There was nothing that I could ever do to help him recover from the loss of his son other than be there for him.  I went to his son’s funeral which was one of the saddest days of my life.  

Now, back to his reason for calling me with his latest update.  Cordova is doing great.  He and his wife got back together and they just delivered a brand new baby boy today!  They named him Robby.  I am so blessed and for the first-time, I truly believe there is a light at the end of the darkest of tunnels.