Bitter Black Coffee


I got the letter today. I already knew what it said:

The Admissions Committee of the AFI Conservatory has completed its review of applications for Fall 2012, and I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission to the Directing Program.

So there it was: rejected. Rejection letter number 146. Bitter as black coffee. This news was disappointing, of course, but not a surprise. Yesterday I gave in and looked up the application on the conservatory website again to try to remind myself  how the process was supposed to work. The Admissions Committee would contact the applicants they were interested in to schedule an interview. All letters would be sent out on April 2nd. Seeing as I was reading this on April 3rd and I had received no word about any interview it was not hard to figure out what my letter would say.

On the plus side, figuring this out in advance gave me a chance to ease my way into the disappointment. It gave me a chance figure out how I was going to tell everyone I’d been rejected in a way that didn’t hurt my pride more than actually being rejected. On the minus side, rejected is rejected.

I know that the decision wasn’t anything personal on the part of the Admissions Committee, but it was personal to me. To them I was just applicant 146 and they did not have a place for me in their program. To me it felt like a vote of no confidence; proof of being not good enough; a dry, polite, whispered “honey, are you really sure this is…right… for you?” To me this was a key tool that was being held out of my reach. This last is the hardest part to not take personally.

It is twice as hard to be a director as it is to be an artist. It’s not so much an art form as it is an exercise in social dynamics. The kind of person who is good at social dynamics is not usually the kind of person who has much patience for art and vice versa. No one is born to direct so there is a constant need for reassurance and validation: proof that you have what it takes. To be accepted is to be validated. To be rejected is to continue in doubt.

But no matter; I’m a director because I direct, not because I did or did not get into one graduate program. I’ll apply somewhere else and carry on directing films and I don’t imagine I will be much worse for the wear in the end. Maybe I’ll even apply to the AFI conservatory program again, though it is hard to avoid being once-bitten-twice-shy.  I like to think that someday I will even find this funny.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 4, 2012.

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