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


detour'd said...

Well said, John. I can feel your heart in this and I don't envy you your position these last few weeks!

susanshearer said...

I love the heart of the 168. Its experiencing growth pains as it goes from adolescence into adulthood. You have my love, respect, adoration and support, John. May God continue to richly bless you and your ministry.

Batman said...

I've always believed in failing spectacularly, and I'll be @Festival all three days. Furthermore, simply because we didn't make the cut for the 168, doesn't mean our film is necessarily bad. I'm pretty sure there's a cut of my film that will qualify for other festivals.

Christopher Shawn Shaw states, "The 168 does not define me as a filmmaker," and I would have to agree. Most of us will make other films that won't be 168's, and some of us will continue to make them until we get it right ;)

I am letting all know here that I'm taking a year off from producing, however, I will still be involved next year and the years following. I'd like you all to hold me accountable to this commitment, and to pray for me, and Team 33. Thanks!!!

Jay Sherer said...

Great and gracious post, John. Love what's going on with 168. I continue to learn more and more every time I particpate in a competition! Thanks to you and the team for everything you're doing.

Things I learned: 1) It's easy to think that one part of the process matters more than the others, but the truth is that it takes a coordinated team to deliver a film. And everybody has a role to play. 2) It's hard work. There are long hours. 3) It doesn't always play out the way you think it will. Sometimes in great ways, sometimes in bad ways.


4) It's totally worth it. The experience alone is worth all the hard work.

Anonymous said...

Well said John! (Atlanta needs a 168 Film Festival.)

Gary Voelker said...

Well said, John. There are many possible levels of disappointment in a competition like this, but also many opportunities to be thankful every step of the way. (I've been on both sides of that!) I appreciate your heart in all of this; we're praying for you and your staff. See you in August!

Dana Marie Newell said...

Totally appreciate all the 168 team's hard work. I feel you guys,

I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's stories on how they made it or didn't make it. We can all learn from each other.

I say a big congrats to everyone who attempted this crazy exercise.

Annette Reilly said...

Beautifully said. Learning and growing are key. There were some very important lessons that God taught my team this year that will improve us for the rest of our careers. I am glad this project is done and I am excited to use what I've learned to make more films that inspire and bring people into the light. Unfortunately, a trip to L.A. for this festival is not in the cards for me this year. I am very sad because I was very much looking forward to sharing in other people's success and continuing to build relationships with the friends I met last year. I hope this year's festival is a smashing success!!! With no rain on the red carpet ;)