Got another rejection letter in my effort to find funding yesterday. That makes three recently. Mostly they remind us that times are tough and there are lots of people hoping for money from shrinking pots. ITVS (the Independent Television Service, which “funds presents and promotes independently produced programs for public television”) was a bit different, in that they offer a 15 minute feedback session along with their rejection. I had talked to several film makers before we submitted our proposal, and knew it was very likely we would be rejected the first time we applied. I applied specifically to hear what the feedback would be. Today was the day. So now we have to figure out what to do with what we heard.
At 10:00 we called Joy Marie Scott, an ITVS programmer, who was very upfront about why the project had been rejected. They didn’t see enough of a narrative in our 7 minute sampler, and imagine the film is similar to To Be and To Have, which turns out to be a negative in their minds, for TV. We do see a relation between what we are attempting and To Be and To Have–but for us it has been a positive. Where is the film in the American context that captures a classroom the way that film did for French audiences?
Ms. Scott feels that To Be and To Have is a theatrical film, not a film for TV. Sounds like an important difference for us to ponder.
Developing a narrative is a no brainer. That has been our goal from the beginning. There are several students we follow where we can define a trajectory from point a to point b (awkward to confident, non reader to emergent reader, outsider to part of the group…) There is an academic narrative around the development of poetic voice through self discovery. There is a teacher reflecting on what she has learned, what she strives for, and how the human equation enters in. There is the unusualness of the relation parents have to the workings of the class. I’m less sure of how well we show that.
So the adrenalin is still flowing through my veins. Did we ask the right questions, listen well enough? What weight do we give to her words? I can only go so far outside my deep connection to the materials, and the investment of time and energy we have devoted. I know from many examples that time and energy don’t necessarily equate to creative success.
Tom has now put together almost all the small sections he wanted to create before we attempted to organize the whole. Soon we start the next stage, filled with curiosity, and some anxiety to see what whole will come from these parts.