Since the pandemic began back in 2020, there has been much more of a focus upon how important it is to look after one’s mental health. Many years ago I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, it was pretty mild and I could carry on living my life, however it got worse in 2021 due to the stress of my US visa problems and the sudden drastic change that occurred in my life. This experience brought up some issues from my childhood that I wasn’t aware of that needed healing. As I type, the panic attacks I’ve been experiencing got worse and I’m now working to get them under control and heal the wounds.
The therapist I’ve been working with got me thinking about the topic of mental health and how important it is to prioritize it. The stress of my visa problems and my reaction to the situation is what flagged up the fact that I needed to take more care of my body & my mental health as I didn’t do this when I was younger. I’ve recently noticed that there are certain triggers within the Film Festival world that can flag up to filmmakers that they need to take more care of their mental, physical and emotional health.
This is by no means suggesting that Film Festivals are the cause and the reason why filmmakers experience anxiety or depression on the festival circuit and during the film festival submission process, rather Film Festivals simply bring up to the surface an issue that was already there which needs healing. In this weeks blog I’m going to discuss the first trigger and how to remedy it.
Pretty much all of the awesome filmmakers I work with want to aim high and submit to the big top tier film festivals. Everyone has free will so even when I advise the filmmakers who don’t have a film that’s suitable for these kinds of festivals not to submit, they can always do what a client of mine calls ‘submit and see’ to give it a go just in case it might get in and also for a bit of fun.
The above is the type of approach to take only if you are emotionally detached from your film and you can accept and trust in the right type of festival strategy for it. If you are still precious that’s when the mental health gremlins can creep in. For example, a client of mine wanted to submit to these bigger festivals even though I pre-warned her that the response would be a pass. She said that wouldn’t bother her & she could take the rejection with a pinch of salt.
When decisions from the festivals started to trickle in, she got quite a few yeses from some lovely smaller reputable festivals (which she also later won awards at) but there were also a lot of no’s coming in from the bigger festivals. I told her not to worry and joked that we both already knew that these would all be passes, however she was beginning to get very upset and after speaking with her GP she was diagnosed with imposter syndrome as she was having severe symptoms of thinking that she wasn’t good enough as a director
The truth was she was a brilliant director; she had just simply made a film that was not for the top tier festivals audiences and instead it thrived at much more suitable festivals that appreciated its narrative and saw the value in it.
The golden rule is to always create the right type of festival strategy for your film. You won’t get selected for every single festival you submit to and it’s important to not take rejection personally. Rejection is something that we will look at in further detail in the next blogs as it’s a big complex issue in the festival world that I can’t wait to unpack with you.