In the past 10 days, we saw 14 world premieres, went to industry panels with world renowned auteurs, went to all inclusive mixers, walked a few red carpets, lived off of top notch cocktails & hors d'oeuvres, and had great conversations with some of Hollywoods top filmmakers. No, this wasn’t my standard week—it was my first Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and my only regret is that I hadn’t discovered it sooner.
Why should you go?
Do you love being the first to see things and getting exclusive access? Well, at TIFF, you can be among the first people in the country or continent to see a movie weeks or months before it will be released. For world premieres, the cast and members of the crew are actually in the crowd with you, experiencing the movie for the first time alongside you. I mean, it’s pretty awesome being able to say that I’ve technically watched a movie with some of my favourite filmmakers. Not only that, but the industry panels are so close to being one on one that you feel like you are having a personal chat with masters of the craft. If that isn't enough for you, you actually do get to have one on ones (if you keep your cool, in my opinion, totally not cool to bombard them for just photos). Also, Toronto is a great Canadian city to check out, there are some awesome lounges & The Black Market is a thrifters paradise!
What makes TIFF special?
TIFF is a movie lover’s paradise with something to offer for everyone. TIFF boasts world premieres of blockbusters and academy award-winning hopefuls, as well as international foreign language films and interesting documentaries. There are even some niche events like Jason Reitman’s Live Reads, where he directs a live on-stage reading of a classic movie with a surprise cast. Two veteran festival goers I met in line said the 2017 Live Read of The Princess Bride was their favourite show in all of their 13 years at TIFF. The industry panels are well worth the investment for you (and your crew if you can afford to bring some along) as they teach you stuff not even a MasterClass course could. I also found it so cool that some of the guest speakers randomly surprise you, I went to a panel about writing and out of no where Paul Dano walks in and sits right across from me.
For world or international premieres, another bonus is that you’ll often get a Q&A session afterward with the cast and directors. I found Q&As great opportunities to take pictures, ask questions, and learn more about how the people behind and in front of the camera think. If you’re interested in documentaries, a big plus of attending their premieres is that you may even get a special guest appearance. For example, after my showing of A Million Little Pieces film, we popped over to get James Frey to sign our original copies. I chatted with him about his personal opinion and the Q&A portion (Side note, I have been obsessed with this book since Oprah's Book Club and the film was great).
For many, the chance to catch a glimpse of celebrities is a big attraction to the festival. We even ended up at the same private party as Julia Roberts on the way out of the international premiere of Mid90's at the Scotia Bank Theatre. As we were leaving the private Q&A panel before the team headed off to the Hold The Dark world premiere I got some directing tips from Jeremy Saulnier & after the design panel Paul D Austerberry wanted to talk to me! Lastly, but certainly not least, I SHOOK HANS ZIMMER'S HAND. But in all seriousness, I realized that under all the television fame and glory, they’re still people too—people who stress about their work like the rest of us and that was by far the best thing I took home from them.
Exhaustion & Lines - Why the Industry Pass is a must
With the passes we only waited in line for one film for about 15 minutes but I was also so lucky that my panel buddy, Matt, got so many tickets in advance to the best films and put me as his plus one. I heard the tickets online for Beautiful Boy with Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name & Lady Bird) and Steve Carell (The Office) sold out instantly (we went and it was magical and I still can't believe this even though I was there). I would say, make sure you are well rested before this Tiff adventure because you are out and about from 6am till 3am, and that isn't a joke. I gained a horrible cold and lived off cough syrup, beers, free popcorn, & movie hotdogs in the theatres. Because you are around so many important people and networking you really want to look and act your best so at a certain part it does start to become a little bit of an act, but thats showbiz baby.
What the industry pass entails:
+ Press & Industry screenings, on a first-come, first-served basis – Public screenings, on a Rush and same-day ticket basis – Industry Conference – Industry Centre, including Screening Library – Networking events – Online delegate resources – Trial memberships with Cinando and Festival Scope Pro + Secondary access to Priority P&I screenings
Also, a side note, I bought mine late and the site price was doubled (still worth it though).
The movie-going experience
In the age of online streaming, it has become easier and easier to skip going to the theatre and wait for it to come out online. Going to TIFF reminded me of all the reasons I love going to the movies: I love the atmosphere; seeing every detail on a 40-foot screen; hearing the score on a sound system that lets you feel every single note; and experiencing each second alongside the rest of the audience screaming, laughing, and crying together as one.
It’s a lot like live music. Sure, you could just listen to the album from the comfort of your own home, but at a concert, it’s the atmosphere that makes it special. It’s the feeling of knowing that everyone there has gathered together because they are fans of the movies, actors, or directors involved in the film. Everyone I met was more than happy to talk about the movies they were planning on seeing. More seasoned TIFF veterans gave me tips and advice on how to make the best of the festival. I went into this festival with one friend and wound up coming out of it with friends that I hope to return with next year.
If you like movies, seeing stars and making friends then I hope to see you next year at TIFF 2019.