TIFF Is Awesome, Now Here’s How To Survive It

So you wanna go to TIFF. Good for you! TIFF is, in our opinion, the greatest film festival in the world in one of the greatest cities in the world (we’re totally not bias).

The TIFF site has great info on tickets and all the amazing movies being screened, but we’re here to give you the info you need to really ‘do’ TIFF. And survive it.

Go It Alone

Going to things alone can be tough, even movies, a place where you are vilified if you talk to another person. It’s weird, we know, but it can be a bit intimidating to see a film solo. Forget that. Your friends don’t want to get up at 7 am on a Sunday to see the new Jason Reitman film? No problem! Grab your single ticket and enjoy yourself. TIFF is all about the love of movies, and you may meet some new friends in line or the seat next to you in the process.

Keep a List

It seems unlikely after weeks of planning and perfecting your schedule that someone will ask ‘what movies did you see?’ and you’ll draw a blank, but you will. Hey, what did you do Monday night? Exactly. Write stuff down, so that when it comes time to show off your cinematic cred, you don’t look like you’re faking it and really went to see Guardians of the Galaxy six times.

Eat Popcorn for Breakfast

Some TIFF movies start early. Like, eaaaaarly. The people around you have travelled, taken time off work, and spent a lot of money to sit in dark theatres in watch movies all day. Some people will call them crazy. We call them our friends. There’s no judgment of fellow movie-goers (as long as they don’t talk during the film). You’re an adult at the movies. Do what you want, when you want. Eat popcorn for breakfast. Do you.

Keep Cash On You

Many of the theatres participating in TIFF are spread out around the city. If you have a tight timeline between films or are running late, make sure you have cash and tokens to jump in a cab or on public transit. There’s always driving, but parking gets expensive, so have a plan.

Make Some Friends

I’ve received great tips from fellow movie-goers while standing in line for a film or waiting in my seat. Movie fans tend to be a friendly bunch and many people that attend TIFF have been doing so for years and have great advice. Want to know what the best way to get to a theatre is, which theatres are the best to attend a gala, or which movie is rumoured to have a surprise appearance from the cast? Try asking the person next to you!

Don’t Be Bummed If You Miss The Gala

Gala films usually have a red carpet and act as the premiere for the film. It’s especially difficult to get tickets to a Gala film and they tend to be very expensive. Don’t fret if you missed seeing your favourite celeb on the red carpet. Last year I attended the screening of 12 Years A Slave the morning after its gala premiere and at the end of the film, director Steve McQueen and actors Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson and Alfre Woodward surprised the audience with an impromptu Q&A. How cool is that?

Be Nice to the Volunteers

Of course you would be nice! You’re always nice! Be especially nice to the TIFF Volunteers. They know thinnnnngggsss…like which line you should be in. Seriously though, as a former TIFF Volunteer, I know that the screening process is pretty intense and that everyone is trained well. Many volunteers return every year and can give great advice and help make your movie going experience award winning. Har har.

Remember, This Is Not a Regular Movie Experience

While many movies allow you to stroll in just as the trailers begin rolling, TIFF is an animal all its own. Fans line up well ahead of screenings and trailers aren’t part of the experience, although you will see the same ads from the festivals sponsors ahead of every film until you can repeat them from memory. Do your best to arrive at films 30 minutes ahead of screening time.

Have Your SHORT Questions Ready

If a film you’re seeing has a Q&A with the director or cast, try to keep your questions short. I went to a film screening last year where all the Q&A period was eaten up by one person asking a 20 minute question…and I still don’t know what it was.

Survival Bag

Of course you want to have a few snacks and your camera/phone ready in case a celeb walks by, but don’t forget other items you might need. We’re about to get old and nerdy here, but you’ll thank us later.

– Band aids. Sure, your new shoes are super cute, but running from one theatre to another can get painful.
– Scarf or hoody. It’s September, but there’s also a thing called ‘air conditioning’. Dress in layers to be comfortable for the movie you just spent a lot of money to see.
– Phone Charger. If you’re live-tweeting your TIFF experience (not DURING a film) and texting friends to find out where in the line up they are, you won’t be very successful with a dead phone.
– Your glasses, if necessary.
– A good attitude. We warned you we were about to get old and nerdy.

Now, have some fun. Movies are the best.