View Full Version : Working/working TIFF

09-07-2006, 06:58 AM

So today the Toronto International Film Festival gears up, and dammit, I feel like the third luckiest person alive. Back in July I got an interview through a friend (Ian Goudge if you ever meet him- he works Sundance, TIFF, Cinevegas, among others) and was hired for a kind of "line wrangler" position. Wahoo!

The thing about TIFF is, they want to be known as the "friendly festival". Their purpose is to make people happy, and they're more concerned about the well-being of their employees and volunteers than any other business I've ever worked for. Among the various perks, staff are allowed to attend pre-screenings, and given a certain amount of tickets for the festival proper. This is my first year working the festival, and the impression I got from the training, is that the management at TIFF couldn't be better- they all have a sense of humor and they love films!!!

I figure I'll post any experiences here, but if you want to see the flicks I'm seeing/seen/want, check out my (Secret) blog. (

So far, the pre-screening of "Fido" was an absolute blast. I also saw a movie called "Hana" which was a very good Japanese drama.

09-07-2006, 07:14 AM
Thanks for the info.

Any insights you get into how the festival runs and in particular the kind of submissions really turn them on would be greatly appreciated.

Plus, anything you learn about getting the most from the festival.

09-07-2006, 07:45 AM
I'll do my best. I had some good insight at the last meeting- a glimpse at the programmers! Very useful when thinking about demographics, but unfortunately they weren't able to talk, just be seen.

I'm off to a venue-set-up/tour shift, and tonight I'll probably be going to the opening night party (or try and rush the Borat movie). I should post something tonight (maybe.. I start at 7:30am tomorrow!)

09-07-2006, 05:04 PM
OK- just got back from Venue Set-up. Tonight I'll be attending the opening gala party!!!!!!!!! (will take pics)

TIFF Programmers have the best job in the world.

Loud Orange Cat
09-07-2006, 05:05 PM
Take LOTS of pics. :D

09-07-2006, 06:20 PM
Ok- I hope this works... I've configured my Flickr account ( so I can send photos from my phone directly to my photos. My provider, Bell (who sucks... oh wait, are they a TIFF sponsor? Um... if so, they don't suck :p), sends them as "Bell emails" though, so I can't put any descriptions... those will come later.

I'm testing it again now, so hopefully it works. Check back around 11pm-1am (EST) and hopefully I won't be so drunk I forget to send them. It's open bar... what can I say? TIFF rules.

EDIT: Ok... it doesn't work, sort of. You can paste the link in the flick comments to see all the pics, but I'll try and post them one at a time. It'll be messy, but it's the best I can do.

09-09-2006, 12:08 AM
Just got back from my first day of work, and an Evening with Micheal Moore.
Work was fun- I got the swing of things as the morning progressed, and by mid-afternoon I was having a blast!

Things of note:
- I got to meet the director (and others) from the film 2:37, Murali K. Thalluri. Though I didn't get to have much of a conversation, he was an amazingly cool guy and the whole entourage for the film was stellar. At the time I hadn't read anything about the film, but I just checked it out in the program, and it looks like a really cool story. The film is hailing from Australia- if you get the chance to check it out, do so. The film sold out, went rush, and then the publicist gave out tickets to the first 21 people in line for free. Class act.
- Micheal Moore showed up to see the film "The Prisoner: Or how I planned to kill Tony Blair". It was cool to see him show up and the volunteers crowd around him (to protect him or annoy him?) and escort him up.
-At the Elgin earlier tonight, though I almost slept past it, Amanda and I met up with Ian Goudge and his buddies for an Evening with Micheal Moore. Micheal talked about his own past and films, and then about his two new projects: "Sicko" (on the American health care system) and "The Great '04 Slacker Uprising" (following his failed '04 election "shadow campaign" to get a democrat in office). He was interviewed by the director of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Khazakstan, "Larry Charles". Funny enough, it was Sacha Baron Cohen dressed up as him with a beard and a hat. Seeing those two together was awesome- they're two of my favorites, and I didn't even know how close they were. Apparantly the Borat screening last night screwed up and Moore was heroically trying to help in the sound booth. There were sound problems tonight too- Moore tried to show some clips from Slacker Uprising, but the audio was garbled, and before they could fix it they ran out of time. We did get to see some clips from Sicko when they fixed the board, and it looks incredible (in the vein of Roger and Me). The way Moore talks and thinks about Canadians is amazing- makes me very proud. Lots of good jokes too- the two had a very funny chemisty. It wasn't until things started fucking up that Moore became very candid (relating some funny stories about pedicures and Mel Gibson). He has a great personality, and I think the entire audience felt a personal connection with the man. Sacha was pretty reserved (it was Moore's show after all, Borat screened right after) but had some killer moments as well. All in all, despite the disappointment with the sound issues, it was still a rockin' time had by all. Some silly people walked out when the clips screwed up, but hey, it's their loss.

So far, it's been a blast- a great kick off to TIFF '06. I'll post more when I can. I'll try and get more scoop on the programmers, and inside info we can all make use of. I think the most important point I can relate would be:
Make a film you're passionate about- the programmers pick movies THEY love, and they CARE for the films. You can tell when the introduce them- they look for films that are not just aestetically pleasing, but made by people who truely love what they do. TIFF is truly a film-lover's festival.

09-14-2006, 07:52 PM
TIP: I saw Colin Geddes, the programmer for the Midnight Madness segment in the Bloor Cinema, talking to some people. The Bloor is not part of the festival- he was there all on his own!
I'd imagine if you rent out the cinema in the latter half of the festival for an Indie premiere, you could probably get press/industry/programmer people out there if you ask the right people and really take a look at the TIFF schedule. You still have to market it, and though TIFF doesn't officially allow that kind of solicitation, there's no harm in meeting people in the first half and mentioning your screening to them. Bring COMPLIMENTARY passes and you might just get a turnout!
Most celebrities have left at this point
(Except for Viggo Mortensen, who I saw today- he's in the red shirt... sorry, couldn't get a face shot because I was still trying to be composed and professional!)
, but the press and industry people are still around to some degree, soaking in the screenings at a much more relaxed pace.
If you're here to network, the latter half of TIFF is better for it- the first half is about partying and seeing films. I'd recommend handing business cards out for the first half with quick intros and handshakes, and using the second half to get more in depth with conversations and meeting people. Everyone is really nice, and pleasant- if you have the time, take it to make friends, not contacts.

Eddie Rex
09-15-2006, 01:06 AM
Has Brad Pitt turned up yet?

09-15-2006, 05:12 AM
Has Brad Pitt turned up yet?

He came, he went. Like I said, most "stars" leave by this point because the majority of the screenings are 2nd runs, press & industry and smaller scale films. They'll show up for the galas, but with no obligation to come to anything else... Ivan Reitman was there two nights ago though. I also met Don Owen, the grandfather of Canadian cinema. Cool guy.

09-15-2006, 05:39 PM
Just got back from a screening of S&Man (pronounced Sandman). Absolutely amazing flick. I'll post more later, because right now I'm seeing spots (I'm tired and it's catching up with me) and getting ready for yet another movie. The director, JT Petty was a really cool guy. I got to talk to him a bit. You might know him as writer/director of Mimic 3, or writer of the first two Splinter Cell games. Well- you gotta see this S&Man movie. It's a total mind fuck. Watch the trailer ( doesn't do the film justice, but watch it anyway)

09-19-2006, 10:40 AM
Hello all,

With the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped and my hangover over, I've wrapped my blog coverage on the Superblog. (

Check it out- there's tidbits to be gleaned. Unlike "Timbits" which are for eating. Is there Tim Horton's in the states yet? Seriously, Canadian coffee... mmmm...

Ok, so here's what I've learned:

-Programmers select films they can get behind, so I'm not sure how the submission works right now because the website it outdated, but take a look at the programmes and who programs them and try your best to get your movie into the hands of the right person. Colin Geddes for one, programmes the Midnight Madness, looks at intelligent, witty, bizzare and otherwise "out there" films that have a "coolness" factor to them. If you've made an action/comedy/zombie/gorror/horror film that might not be "ultra commercial", he's the man to submit to. Research the people who run the festival and try and start a dialogue. They're all kick-ass people (as far as I've met), so don't be afraid to shoot an email. Piers Handling, the co-president, also programs films. He's a real down-to-earth guy, but also incredibly cultured. If you've just adapted one of Mozart's operas into a stunning and epic vision, you'll want to throw it to him. It's like mirco-target-marketing. Find your niche and submit.

-Aestetics are important, most films are shot on film, but not so much for Midnight Madness. MM is all about the story, and about finding cult hits. Most other programmes have a standard as far as visual quality. Documentaries should deal with common social issues, or expose a rich (or deplorable) culture that everyone can relate to.

-If you get in: show up for your Q&A's. Be nice and friendly. It's known as the "friendly festival" around the world.

-Try some original ideas to get buzz: for the Borat screening, Sacha showed up with a bunch of farm animals and worker-women. Great buzz getter. If you have a movie about say.... a bad ass cat who kills people, stage a publicity stunt at your gala, and you might get some industry people showing up for your second show.

-Make sure you've got extra tickets for any press or industry who show up.. most films have already got a publicist who will take care of this. So actually, get a publicist. They're good at what they do, which is promote your film. It may be fun and rewarding to do the work yourself, but you're at TIFF now, and you need that extra edge. Hire a damn publicist.

-Quality is the key. If you've got a poingnant film with good visuals, a strong story that tackles real issues, and at least some commercial viability, you can get in and rock the TIFF. I'd try and build up some credibility with smaller films at smaller festivals- TIFF programmers do trot the globe to see what other festivals are offering (and vica versa- Trevor Groth, Sundance head programmer dropped by for a few days). Build up a good reputation to preceed you, then rock TIFF with a quality film. What more can I say?

So that's the jist of what I learnt. I know "make a good film" is kind of ambiguous advice, but it's really the key factor here. I'd recommend going to the festival just to see the kinds of movies they accept. Once you understand that, you'll understand the line of standards. Try your hardest to achieve that, and if you have to shoot MiniDV, aim for a Midnight Madness "cool factor".

Anyway, it was an amazing year and I had the best time of my life since last summer (the MB3K premiere).

Now it's back to work on my script. By Friday I hope to send it out for a critique, once I refine a bit of the problems. Wish me luck!