A Word on Disappointment to Filmmakers and Others

Dear 168,

I am writing from the heart in hopes that you will understand how much we care about this competition and have tried our best to make the rules of the 168 Film Project and the competition itself fair and awesome.  As we grow and change and re-define ourselves, there are and will be many growing pains. 

Thanks you to all of you who have prayed for us.  I beg you to continue to do so.  We need it.

Filmmakers, know that we are proud every single one of you.  You have valiantly given your all and it has been harder on some of you.  Some of you were disqualified due to being a lot or even just fractions of a second over the deadline for qualifications for awards.  Some of you were late on turning in the films.  And some of you didn’t score high enough to make the August 8-10 screening.

My team and I have agonized over these decisions, but to run a fair festival, we must uphold the rules with fervency.  Many want grace for infractions, but try to explain that to the filmmaker who has met all of the conditions.  Grace in this case would not be grace, it would be fraud and we can’t do it.

Here are some statements that have been voiced and some answers to from my perspective.

We weren't good enough to make the cut.

Maybe, but the effort was a fine one and the competition was fierce.  With 80 slots and 152 entries, some disappointment was expected. We sympathize with and understand your disappointment.  It is not possible to screen all of the films at the brick and mortar festival.  We plan to screen all films online.

I’m not planning to attend the 168 Film Festival because my film didn’t screen.

We cheer everyone on to succeed to their best potential.   After a setback, full potential is realized by shaking off momentary disappointments and remaining in the game.  I would hope you would want to cheer your friends on at the festival and to gain direct knowledge of the intense and amazing artistry within the competition. 

And another thing: media runs on relationships.  Coming to the 168 Film Fest can only help you.  Even if you are unhappy with 168, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of this amazing community.  To develop relationships with some of the best filmmakers around L.A., the USA and the entire planet is something you will have a chance to do August 8-10, 2-13.  And seeing their work is something I would invite all 168 filmmakers to do--to aspire, to learn, to grow.

What do I tell my team and my friends?
There are many different levels of artist in the competition.  All are growing and learning.  As a producer, your job has not changed.  You are still the cheerleader and the one that never says “die.”  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  Tell your team how great they were and arrange a screening for friends and family.   Remember, Edison “failed” 1000s of times before his eventual success. 

Taking disappointment as failure (in anything) really misses the point.  In the Bible, Paul talks about running the race.  There is one winner, one 2nd, third and so on.  We pick the best films.  Your film may have scored below some of the others, but did you learn from it, did you grow? 

The heart of a filmmaker (especially a Christian one) must be stout.  After a time of possible mourning, if then you put anything less than a “confident in your growth” spin on disappointment, then you have done yourself and your team a disservice.  You made a film!  Screen it and enjoy and learn from your mistakes.  168 may not be in your future again, but you should realize the power of the mechanism God has set up.  168 gets God’s people working together and studying scripture with an open mind and I don't know where else that happens.

Awards are a hollow reward, why are they necessary? It would be great to do the competition sans awards.  But, if we had no awards, then no one would care plain and simple.  Awards are necessary, but, win or lose, your approval should come from above in all things.

So now are you thinking? “We did learn a lot through this experience.” Stop there.  Remember this and ask these questions too: Did you do your best?  Where could you have been better?  What mistakes did you make?  Who would you want to work with again?  Where does my approval come from ultimately?
Finally, I say congratulations.  I admire and respect all of you who have dared to try to do the impossible based on a Theme, a Verse and a Week.

May the Lord Bless and keep you and make his Light shine on you and uphold you and lift you up and show you the Way.


John David Ware
Founder and Director
168 Film