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Posts from the ‘filmmaking’ Category

How to do the Toronto International Film Festival in Two Easy Steps

Posts are getting scarce – friends and family are sticking “have you seen this blogger?” posters around the neighborhood – it must be time for the Toronto International Film Festival!

The question I most commonly get asked this time of year comes in many different flavours but essentially boils down to “how can an average person who just wants to see a cool film check out the film festival?” TIFF is a daunting animal, and the people who “do” it (professionals and cineastes alike) can spend a lot of time getting passes, entering lotteries, scheduling viewings, juggling venues, dropping a small fortune on gala tickets, schmoozing the people with party invites… it’s (no joke) a full-time job for some folks who make it yearly business trip/vacation (just starting chatting with people in line for movies, a practice I fully endorse, to get some great stories of hard-core movie-watching dedication).

Relax average public, I have a hassle free two step process that will give you as good (or better) a film festival experience than 90% of attendees. I won’t even make you send away any self-addressed stamped envelopes to get it.

Step 1: Any day of the festival go to the film festival’s “Best Bets” page. Pick any film on the page.

Step 2: Go to the appropriate theater at the appropriate time, buy a ticket at the theatre box-office, and enjoy the film.

When most people see that the festival has 300+ films, they worry that they’re not going to see the “best” film, or the “right” film. But the real secret of film festivals (Toronto especially) are that there are no bad films. The festival programmers work the entire year to try and find the best possible films in the world. There is not a single film in the entire festival line-up that is a “bad” film. Some may not be to your individual taste – but you could throw a dart at the calendar and guarantee that you’d get a finely crafted, thought provoking piece of cinema from a talented artist.

Once you get that out of the way, the festival “Bets Bets” list is the obvious place to start (these are the films where, on the day of screening, for whatever reason, you can likely get a walk-up ticket at the theater). Most likely these films are not going to be playing in your local multiplex any time soon, and may, in fact, never come out on television or video (not because they’re bad, or not interesting, there’s only so many foreign films, documentaries, and other niche product that the market can support each year and sadly, some real gems, fall through the cracks).

I can’t tell you the number of brilliant documentaries, reflationary foreign films, or up and coming superstars I’ve discovered through the “Best Bets” list. In fact my brother and I were just eating dinner talking about one of our all time favourite Thai films “Citizen Dog” which was, I beleive, a “Best Bet” flick.

So quit spending your time with an excel spreadsheet of possible red-carpet sightings, and instead spend that time to get out to the theaters.

I’ll be back here to blather on more in a couple of days (although I am working on a brief post about the latest conference board of Canada culture report that I’d like to get up before the festival consumes my soul for a few days..)

See you at the movies!

Panning for gold in the sewer: Fun with internet critique

Friday’s post about Scott Kurtz’s take on interpreting critical feedback eventually generated a couple very interesting comments.

One thing everyone agreed upon was that that the “signal to noise” ratio for feedback (incorporating all pro/amateur/literary critique/”you suck” e-mail) for any creative work on the Internet is astoundingly low. So the question remains – as a creator of any subjective work on the Internet (comics, films, poetry, bonsai kittens) – how can one filter the responses one gets to get useful information out of the mire? Read more

Confidential to Disney / Pixar PR & Marketing – A Proposed Deal Regarding WALL-E…

Presumably your corporate fiefdoms contain (somewhere) a vast staff who does nothing but Google your various interests all day, in order to quantify and relay “the buzz” of people with websites in lovely digest reports. I desperately cling to this belief (come on Google spider – hook a brother up).

I have nothing of any consequence to add to the already widespread discussion (and near-unanimous love-fest) of your current feature film. I viewed it seated next to a little girl – I’d guess she was about eight? Maybe? She was extremely tired upon arriving which troubled me as sleep deprived and cranky children seem to be an increasing trend at the late movies I frequent.

(A digression: Hey Parents! Your kids do not want to see 10pm movies. They want to be sleeping. They are children. It is your job to say things like “I want to see the movie too sweetie, but we’ll go tomorrow”. The film will still be playing then. It is a Pixar movie. It will still be playing at Christmas.)

Where was I? Read more

Please stop e-mailing me about DJ Coffman and “Heroes by Night”

Based, presumably, on the fact I referred to DJ Coffman in this post about why self-publishing isn’t a panacea, and the still wildly popular trio of posts about the TokyoPop pilot (the inciting incident, ensuing brough-ha, and third thing where Zuda gets dragged into the morass) people are seeming to take DJ’s post from yesterday that all is not well in his ongoing efforts to regain his “Hero by Night” rights as some kind of absolute sign from the heavens that I must renounce everything I wrote therein.

So here’s why I’m not going to do that. Read more

Harry Knowles does not care for “The Love Guru”

I can’t recall the last time I read a Harry Knowles movie review. I’m not really big on review-sites in general – but I used to use AICN as a vague barometer for “genre movies” I was on the fence about seeing in theatres – a role which (for me) is now much better suited by the Tomatometer. That being said I really enjoyed Harry’s review of The Love Guru.

[…] Myers puts a shotgun in the mouth of comedy and kills it.

really, REALLY, needs to be a pullquote for this weeks “sizzle” ads in the newspapers. Come on someone at Paramount – make this happen for me!

Talent Lab 2008 – Applications Available

Hello 2007 Labbers!

Since the recent TokyoPop contract debate has completely super-charged my pagerank, I’m starting to get a number of enquiries at this site about the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival Talent Lab.

Yes, Sandra Cunningham and I will be co-producing this program again this year which is a real honour. I legitimately think this is one of the most inspiring developmental programs for emerging screenwriters, directors, and producers in the world (although sorry everyone else, it’s only open to Canadians this year). Matthew Hoos, my partner in crime at RocketAce was a director participant a few years back and I know it made a world of difference to his approach to his craft.

All that being said, could I respectfully ask that anyone with questions about the program, or the application process to e-mail, instead of using my contact form? Many of these e-mails will make their way to me regardless, but there’s a number of general enquiries that the crack Industry Initiatives staff will be able to answer better (and faster), and it will ensure no one gets lost in the cracks.

Application forms for the 2008 Lab are available now and
are due, along with all support materials, at the TIFF offices by Thursday June 26th at 5pm EST.