Saturday, August 31, 2013

A How-To For Scoring Tickets

Okay, guys. This is it: five more days until the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival starts. If you're one of the lucky ones with a pass, then we don't wanna talk to you. Neah. But if you're hoping to buy some individual tickets, they go on sale September 1st. Yes, as in two days from now! Better clear you schedule!  Film writer Sean Kelly has written some tips over at the always informative Huffington Post. Here are some highlights:

Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More

Always make sure to have at least one alternate choice for every film screening you want to attend (I actually choose up to four alternate choices). Also there's a few forums online (such as this one), which keep track of which films have gone off-sale (definitely a good fact to know). Since it can be a daunting task the choose films, there are many tools you can use to help. The best tool from the last few years is a website called TIFFR, which allows you to add TIFF films to a shortlist and plot them to your own personal schedule.  (Vanguard Blog's note: we lovvvveeeee TIFFR! It's, as the kids say, the bomb. Wait, do they still say that?)   

Buy Tickets as Early as Possible

The Festival Box Office at 225 King Street West opens for single ticket sale at 9 am on Sept. 1. It has become the habit of hardcore cinephiles to actually camp out the night before, in order to acquire the best tickets. While camping out isn't really that necessary, it is highly recommended that you buy tickets as soon as you can, preferably on the first day of ticket sales. Since the online ordering system can sometimes be unreliable on the first day, it is best to wake-up early and head to the box office in person (I recommend arriving AT LEAST an hour or two before tickets go on sale). While you might find yourself in for a long wait (one year I waited 8 hours in line), you will likely be able to get tickets to most of the screenings you want to see (assuming you arrived well prepared). (Vanguard Blog's note: We've been hearing better and better things about the online process and while technology is never always perfect, it can be a much better alternative to camping out in front of the box office. Then again, you could make some new friends.)

Off-sale Does NOT Mean "Sold Out"

A big pet peeve of mine is when people describe a film at TIFF as being "sold out." The official terminology TIFF uses when tickets are no longer available is "off-sale." This is because many films tend to go back on sale for one reason or another. That's why TIFF asks you to check the the box office everyday at 7am, since that is when additional tickets might be available for purchase. It is only on the day of the screening when the film is officially no longer available and marked "RUSH." (Vanguard Blog's note: As this author professionally manages theatres for film festivals, she too never uses the phrase "sold out" when referring to screenings. EVER. Because, like Sean says, even if there are no tickets currently for sale, it doesn't mean there won't be at some point. And even then, there is always the Rush Line. Which brings us to...)
When in Doubt, RUSH 

If there is a film that you ABSOLUTELY want to see, but you haven't been able to get advanced tickets, there is always the RUSH line. In it's simplest description, the RUSH line is place where you wait on stand-by, in case last minute tickets become available. Usually RUSH tickets are sold 10 minutes before a screening, after most of the ticket holders have been let in, and are CASH-ONLY. (Vanguard Blog's note: Again, as a professional festival worker, this author can attest to the Rush Line being one of the most fun experiences you'll ever have at a film festival. Sure, you could be in line for a couple of hours. But if you REALLY want to see a film, it's worth it. And since everyone else in the line REALLY wants to see the film too, you'll have something to talk about. Pack a snack, bring some cash, and get comfy. Also, when you get into a Rush Line, take a moment to find a volunteer or staff member who can explain all of the Rush Line rules too you; they can sometimes change from year to year and differ at every festival.) 
Intrepid Vanguard follows, do you have any of your own tips for successfully snagging Festival tickets? Share them with us! 

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