Tips and Tricks for Mastering TIFF 2014
Navigating the Toronto International Film Festival can be quite overwhelming with all of the events, films, parties, and intricate details involved, but lucky for you, Scene Creek is here to help you out with our pointers for how to make the most out of TIFF 2014. September is the busiest time of year if you’re a hardcore festival attendee, so firstly remember to relax and to have fun! There are many opportunities at TIFF to meet filmmakers, celebrities, see incredible cinema, and make new friends. Here is our step-by-step guide on how to be a pro from September 4th – 14th.
In case you were unaware, TIFF is not some exclusive gathering; in fact, it is known to be the most audience-friendly film festival in the world. TIFF relies on us regular folk to spread the buzz about their films, which is why the awards at the end of the festival are all the People’s Choice. The first thing you will need to do to attend the festival is get your tickets.
There are two ways to go about ticket buying; first are packages and second is single tickets. As it is now mid-August, packages are likely sold out, and if we’re being honest, they don’t hold much value other than to secure the titles that you must see. Packages are sold in variety of options, from your choice to pre-arranged tickets. However, the pricing this year involves no savings for buying in bulk and so we recommend just going for the single tickets.
Single tickets go on sale at 9:00am on August 31st. There are three ways to purchase tickets: in person at the Box Office (located on the lower level of Metro Hall on King Street), by phone or through the website. The way you get your tickets depends on how intent you are on getting your choice of films. We suggest lining up at the Box Office, but it takes quite the dedicated TIFFer to do this, as line ups start as early as a whole day prior. Speaking from personal experience, as in, having slept on the sidewalk at Metro Hall in TIFF years past, I think that if you’re seriously craving those top films on your list and you truly believe they’re likely to go off sale (a term we will define later), then this may be the way to go. Phoning and using the TIFF website can offer success as well, but they also are highly unreliable and subject to crashing. Being sent into the virtual waiting room on the TIFF website is sure to elicit panic and frustration in the serious TIFF goer, and therefore waiting in line might be worth your while. But hey, there are so many films to choose from that settling for your second option if your first is off sale might actually be rewarding in the end.
There are also two different types of tickets, regular and premium. Premium tickets are for Red Carpet Premieres. This is likely the first screening of a film at TIFF, however not all first screenings are premium. Buying a premium ticket usually guarantees the cast and crew of the film in attendance, a red carpet, and a Q&A after the film. Regular tickets are for any other screening of a film. However, there is something extremely important to note here. Premium screenings cost significantly more money, and the thing is, a lot of regular screenings offer the exact same experience. We recommend trying to snag the second screening of any given film, especially if that second screening is the day after the premiere. More likely than not, the cast and crew will stick around for a second red carpet and Q&A session. Even luckier is when they stay for the third show. Also keep an eye out for films that’s first screening is not premium; again, chances are the cast and crew last minute decided to show up. These are ways to save money, but still get the glitzy TIFF experience.
Ticket prices are as follows: Adults pay $24 for regular screenings, $46 for premium; 25 & Under pay $18 for regular screenings, $30 for premium, and seniors pay $21 for regular screenings and $40 for premieres. As you can see, there’s a large difference in price. Only go to the Premium Screening if you seriously need to ensure you see your favourite actor who has already been confirmed for attendance.
TIFF TIP: Another way to have the best of both worlds is to attend the red carpet premiere of the premium screening you want to attend, hang out on the red carpet (you don’t have to pay to do that!) and try to grab a picture with the talent in the film. Get tickets to the film screening the next day, and now you’ve ensured both experiences!
2. Rush Lines
The biggest dilemma of TIFF is when the film you wanted to see most goes “off sale”. “Off Sale” is like a fancy, beating-around-the-bush way of saying the film is sold out. There is a reason however that they don’t just say the film is sold out, and that’s because chances are you could still get into the film. Firstly, call the box office on the daily to see the status of the Off Sale film you need a ticket to; chances are someone exchanged their tickets. Your best bet is calling the Box Office at 7am on the day of the screening.
TIFF TIP: You can’t get a money back refund on TIFF tickets but you can exchange for another film, and so your TIFF selections are never set in stone.
If you still have no luck, there’s something called a rush line. Rush Lines can be highly successful if you are a very dedicated and patient human being. These traits certainly come in handy at the festival. Basically, for every film, there’s a large chance that many ticket holders won’t show up. Many people with tickets are sponsors or special people who just get tickets for free. These people skip out a lot. Also, life happens and sometimes people just can’t make it. Well, lucky for you in the rush line, there’s a chance you can take their seat. It’s recommended to get in the Rush Line at least a couple of hours before the film starts. This is where patience is necessary. Sometimes you waste three hours of your life just to be dismissed from the Rush Line. Other times, you get into that coveted screening that apparently all of Toronto wanted tickets to. Rush prices are different; 20 dollars for regular screenings and 40 for premium. Rush Line Box Offices accept cash only.
TIFF TIP: Be weary of which theatre the film is playing at. Large venues like Princess of Wales are likely to have lots of room for the Rush Line, but small places like Jackson Hall at the AGO, or Scotiabank theatre, are less likely to let you in.
3. Red Carpets
For many festival goers, TIFF is all about the red carpets. You must be aware that red carpets are extremely hectic and it’s pretty tough to get a photo with the talent unless you get there extremely early. The best place to see a red carpet event is at Roy Thompson Hall, home of the Gala progamme. This is the fanciest way to see a movie. Other venues are not as fitting for a red carpet, such as the multiplex theatres like Scotiabank and TIFF Bell Lightbox. Even places like Princess of Wales and the Elgin are not very red carpet equipped.
TIFF TIP: Gala Screenings at Roy Thompson Hall, while classy and star-filled, do not have Q&A’s after screenings.
So you want to prove to your friends that you are the most dedicated festivalgoer in town, buying tickets to 40 films and jam-packing your every day of the festival. Well first off, good luck to you, and we hope you make it out alive. There are way too many films to choose from at the festival, but that’s what makes it so fun; everyone’s festival experience is so unique! That being said, please be very mindful of the times of your movies and where you are. Nothing sucks more than you the ticket holder, losing your seat to some kid in the rush line. There are many venues for the festival, and they’re all around the city. Not exactly a hop, skip, and jump to each theatre, you may need to take public transportation to get from Ryerson to Roy Thompson Hall in time.
Try to leave at least one hour in between screenings; even this is pushing it. You have to factor in the possibility of a Q&A if you care to stay and watch that after your screening (which you should, where else would you get that?) and remember that there’s going to be a long line to get into your next screening, and it may not be so close. Try to plan accordingly based on the venues and times of the movies you are seeing, and seriously we do not suggest seeing more than 3 films in one day. Three films is a lot already, and more than that while physically possible is also highly stressful. The ideal experience for someone who wants to enjoy the festival and see a handful of films is maybe one-two films a day. Maybe you’re only going to see one film for the whole festival! Whatever your choice is, it’s guaranteed to be a unique experience.
TIFF TIP: There’s an amazing APP called TIFFR that helps you navigate the festival and map out your festival.
More Quick Tips
TIP: Try to choose movies that may not get released for a long time, or ever. You can easily tell based on whether or not the film has a distributor or not; TIFF is a place for distribution companies to shop around and more often than not it takes months to years for a film that played at TIFF to be released.
TIP: Stay in the loop with social media. Follow @TIFF_NET on Twitter, Like their Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, and use the hashtag #TIFF14. You can often find special information about events, contests, and more fun stuff.
TIP: Celebrities are friends too, and often you will find one disguised as an average joe sitting amongst the audience of the festival. This is a cool place to tell Ewan McGregor that you think he’s great. (Also keep your eye out for celebrities walking down the street)
TIP: Visit tiff.net to get the most up-to-date information about the festival
TIP: TIFF is a great way to make friends who are as film obsessed as you are. Talk to people in line ups to learn more about films you may not have heard about before, and share your festival experience!
That concludes Part One of what you NEED to know for TIFF 2014. Look out for Part Two when we break down the films by programme and give you our recommendations for the festival. Happy TIFF-ing!