I keep feeling old this year. Maybe it’s that the demo of the member line skews a couple of decades above the crew I’m used to sharing a spot on the cold concrete with each year, or maybe it’s that I’m just old.
Probably that second one. Whenever someone asks me, as they inevitably do, what movie I’m looking most forward to seeing I want to ask them if they have ever made a mixtape. Back in my day, the kids would use cassettes and record music, sometimes from other cassettes, sometimes from records, and even occasionally from the radio, carefully hunching over the buttons in order to filter out any commercials. Those were tough times. We had to really work for our entertainment back then. It didn’t leave a lot of time for shenanigans.
Tangent. So, mixtapes. Or to put it in more common parlance, a playlist. When asked about what film out of the approximately 30 I plan to see if my legs and liver make it to the end of the festival I must always ask the person to consider the
mixtape playlist. When making a playlist you do not try to fill it crap and include one awesome song that will make you want to just skip through everything else. You want it to start off good, build up to something great, then awesome, back to great, then good , then epic and so on and you must always finish strong.
2008 was the year I took everything I had learned about picking films through trial and error over the years. Every year since I have tried to duplicate the level of enjoyment I got out of the festival in ’08. I opened with 9.99 – unforgettable if only for the stop motion animated coitus. Then Lovely, Still a movie so engrossing that even having a Weinstein sitting behind me constantly checking his phone and kicking my seat could not spoil my enjoyment. I followed those up with More Than A Game where a still cavalier LeBron cried during the Q&A and Every Little Step where everyone cried during the Jason Tam audition for Paul. There were a few ups and downs in the week but that year, more than any other year is why I keep doing this. I had the first screening of Slumdog where the entire audience at the Ryerson rose and clapped along for the end credits. In one of the daytime holes my friend convinced me to add the Wrestler – and that was also the year of Flame & Citron, Deadgirl, Apron Strings, The Brothers Bloom and Medicine for Melancholy.
I can’t pick a favourite before the festival starts. I can’t even pick a favourite after it’s over. If I did it right it’s all good. So today, with two more sleeps until it all begins as far as I know I have the perfect mixtape queued up and all I have to do is hit play.
I am aware that 7:30 AM is too early to start drinking, however I don’t quite feel like orange juice is going to do the trick right now. Quick list of tips for people placing their orders online – sorry I won’t get this done in time to help people with an 8:00 AM slot, may the odds be ever in your favour.
I recommend a PC with a modern version of Internet Explorer. The people at the box office use PCs and it just seemed safer – I have doubts about the amount of Mac+Safari or Chrome regression testing.
First – if you have time organize your picks by alphabetical order with the date, time, location and number of tickets (ideally in a spreadsheet with columns).
Create a second spreadsheet with the picks organized chronologically.
You can select your films by title, which will involve you selecting the letter of the alphabet the English name of the film starts with in the schedule/programme book. If the film starts with ‘The’ put that after the rest of the title in your spreadsheet so when you alpha sort it is in the correct order. Example ‘Thieves, The’.
When you select the title of your film, you will get a new page where all showings available for your package are listed. Select the correct showing.
Then you get to select the quantity and add to cart.
Lather, rinse and repeat.
You can also select your films by date. You click the date on the calendar, and then scroll through a page listing the films showing on that day. Select the film, and then your quantity.
A couple of minutes before your start time get your email, package ID and password entered in the form.
Copy the package ID to your clipboard as you will need to enter it again at the end of the process before you submit your order.
If you are expecting a call or have a text-y friend turn your phone off – you will not want to be interrupted.
Wait and hit login when your time window starts. You will not be able to login until your time window.
Calm the f**k down. Breathe.
Try not to look at the countdown. It will drive you insane.
Do not click checkout until you are finished. Just keep going back to select films.
You will need to select your picks one at a time. You can go either by date or by film title.
If you select a film and it doesn’t appear to be off sale but you don’t have the ability to select any quantity from the drop down, try again by selecting the film by the other method (title or date). Or go back to that film at the end of your order and try it again.
If you wait too long on the page where you are supposed to select quantity the browser may refresh – just verify if your tickets were added to your cart.
Relax – it is unlikely you will run out of time.
Overall it was stressful, but that is more because it was a change to the process, not because the site had many problems. There were a few moments when I swear I could actually feel the load on the site getting heavier – and the response time got a little sluggish. About halfway through my order entry I got a crazy refresh that make it look like I needed to login again – I just clicked ‘Select Films’ at the top and it sent me back to the cart view. I may have soiled myself slightly, but except for that little blip it was ok. Even if I had to start over again I probably would have had enough time.
If you have ever had a job that involved data entry or were a cashier you will be thankful for your ability to zen out and click your way through the process.
Best of luck to everyone and happy festival.
G+ Link St. Andrew Subway stop via TTC or King streetcar to John.
Never take the streetcar to John if you don’t have to. Get off at York if you are approaching from the west or Peter if you are approaching from the east. The blocks between the Hyatt and University are a hot mess for traffic and walking will likely be faster for most.
Last year I saw the PJ 20 the most excellent documentary by Mr. Cameron Crowe at this venue.
The sound is excellent in this venue and the seats are quite comfortable.
However – last year it did not appear that there were enough orange shirts to deal with the volume of humanity that arrives for a TIFF event. The very professional and polite and well-clad staff on site may not have anticipated the energy and enthusiasm a crowd of plaid-and-flannel wearing pre-middle-aged hipsters would have after lining up for hours on a sunny afternoon. This was not the slow processional of the afternoon matinee crowd. I have never appreciated the orange shirts more when they were not around in force to make sure people were in the right line. As for the onboarding process, well I have to give them props for letting us in the theatre and out of the sun – but the doors were to the seating area were not open prior to letting the line in and that resulted in… well you can see from the picture it resulted in shenanigans.
I do have to give this venue a special commendation for being the best smelling TIFF venue ever – if only because there were hardly any films screened here so festival-funk had not permeated the seats.
It’s a great location as it is close to many bars, transit, the box of light and Scotiabank (Festival Hall) but if you have a film here ask at least three people if you are in the correct line for ticket holders and get ready to scramble when you get inside.
If the rumors are true this may also be a red carpet venue this year – so the good news is there should be more volunteers and headsets to work the line, however they may not have the logistics of the space sorted out so if you go with a group be prepared to split up if you want a good seat.
Art Gallery of Ontario – Jackman Hall – 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4 (416) 979-6648
G+ Link - Museum subway stop via TTC
Here is what little I know about the new process. Please bear in mind that I washed most of this information down with about three quarters of a bottle of wine (thanks tofilmfest) and then to stop panicking I tossed another couple of beers and a shot of JD down the gullet shortly after to settle my nerves. So you may want to go to the TIFF site and verify any or all of this information.
If you have a membership, I would strongly suggest trying to log in to the site before Monday June 25 – there have been challenges with this and if you need help they will be slammed after Monday.
Good news – if not getting a hard ticket to a movie is the worst thing that happened to you today you got yourself what I like to call first world problems. Celebrate that.
Better news – you can still get a ticket that movie if you really really really want it.
1. If you are rich you can get a ticket from a scalper. Yes this is a little old school, and yes there are bound to be fraudsters murderers and perverts as you navigate through craigslist or twitter to get your obscenely marked up ticket, but people do it every year.
2. If you have a Visa Infinite card but are not rich enough to pay over $400 for a $40 ticket then you can try to buy your ticket through them. Go to https://visainfinite.ca/offers.html – there may be more seats available at some point before the festival starts.
3. If you are not rich and do not have a fancy high fee credit card you can wait. Like take the day off of your real life, be that work, parenting, whatever and camp the fuck out in line as long as it takes so you are among the first ten people in the rush line. How long you will have to wait varies from film to film, and you have to be logical and think that if a movie you want to see is at night or on a weekend even more people can wait for rush so you will have to go even earlier to be at the front of the line. I waited for Juno in the rush line for about 3 hours and I was still not near the front of the line. I got in, but if you want a popular screening you may need to wait at least that long if not much longer.
4. Be incredibly lucky. Sometimes they release tickets that you can buy online the same day. You need to wake up early and keep trying to order. The challenge here is there is no guarantee that additional tickets will be released the morning of the screening and there is even less of a guarantee that the site will be operational at any point in the day.
If you are poor, or lazy or forgetful and not so ridiculously good looking that people just give you things because you ask then you are still screwed. Better luck next year.
@highlandertn posted a helpful matrix showing foot travel time between theatres for TIFF11.
As someone who is not getting any younger and needs a little pick me up between films I will share my short list of places to stop for a beer, between theatres. These are not places to see and be seen, but you can get served, get a seat and take a moment to reflect on your most recent film. Please add time to order, drink and pay to recommended travel times.
AMC to Ryerson – The Imperial Pub at 54 Dundas Street East, just east of Victoria. Go upstairs, get a bottle of 50, play some foosball and bring your own hand sanitizer to the bathroom. It’s a bit sketchy but there is plenty of seating upstairs and occasionally hot popcorn.
Ryerson to Isabel Bader – 7 West on 7 Charles Street just west of Yonge. They are open 24 hours and you can get a bite before or after your midnight madness movie.
Anything at AGO – Village Idiot Pub at 127 Mc Caul Street. So many beers. Seating can get a bit tight, but the selection is worth the lack of personal space.
Isabel Bader to Scotiabank, Lightbox, Princess of Wales (POW) or Roy Thompson Hall (RTH) – The Charlotte Room at 19 Charlotte Street. Tiny streetlet between Spadina and Peter. High quality pool tables, fantastic staff, and the best nachos you will ever have. You can get half beef, half chicken ALL delicious. They are closed on Sundays.
Lightbox (or POW or RTH) to Scotiabank – Town Crier Pub at 114 John Street. So much delicious beer. If you want something shandy-esque and light for daytime drinking try the Stiegl Radler – Grapefruit beer. For reals. We all miss Smokeless Joe’s, but this place has more comfortable and plentiful seating.
Honorable mention - South of Temperance - 20 Adelaide Street West. If you head south on Yonge from AMC and hang a right at Adelaide you can’t miss it. Yes, it’s full of bankers. Yes, the very competent wait staff wear tiny outfits forcing them to do a pseudo bunny dip for the low patio tables but you can get sun in during the day in the middle of the financial district. They have tasty beers on tap, a fruity white wine sangria, yummy brunch and delicious fish tacos. If you want to sit on the patio on a weekday you need to reserve or get there by 11:30 AM, but it’s pretty fantastic. Allegedly they will be closed for part or all of a day/night early in the fest for the Alliance party, but the rest of the time they will be open for business. Sun-soaked, beer-flavoured business.
Stay thirsty my friends.
So the advance order process begins for TIFF11 and they have drawn box 20. If you are in a “good” box – that would be 20 or close to 20 you can celebrate. Drink something strong, eat something fattening, make a bad decision with someone who is very attractive.
If you are in a bad box- 19 or thereabouts, all of the same rules apply. At this point it is out of your hands, and you still have 72 hours before you can even start to think about what you will do with your empty slots. You may get lucky. You may get nothing. The only thing you can control for the next few days is how you deal with the interminable wait until you find out how many of your first selections you may yet still get. Theatre capacity plays a large role in the outcome of the proceedings at this point so all is not lost. Wait until the day before pick up before you start to panic and make other choices. If you go to the lineup early on advance order pickup day you could still have the opportunity to get a first choice from the box office or someone else with a conflict. Watch Legend. Or for the kids watch Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Unicorns can exist. Sometimes you can be in a crappy box number in the draw and still get exactly what you want. Or, like the year I had to switch a first choice coupon for Bella – you may get what you need.
This year the box office is in Metro Hall on the concourse (underground) level. It opens on August 23 at 7:00 AM for programme book and package pick up. The great news about this is once again there will be some protection from the elements when it comes to a lining up to drop off and pick up. I’m a big fan of the subterranean box office locations – it’s nice to be able to get your programme book and bag and have a minute to catch your breath instead of being thrust out onto a busy street corner.
You can access the box office from the King St Metro Hall entrance close to John St and take the escalator down to the concourse. For people familiar with the PATH system you can also get there directly from St. Andrew Station without surfacing by following the path signs to Metro Hall. This location is mere minutes from Roy Thompson Hall, Princess of Wales Theatre and the Lightbox.