Toronto-based actors and filmmakers explain what TIFF means to them—and get out their pre-festival jitters.
With all the hype and hysteria that accompanies the arrival of even the most marginal celebrities at TIFF (and I say this as someone who still talks about seeing Sinbad jaywalk across Bloor Street in 1992) it’s easy to forget how significant the festival is to people in the local film scene. In short: it’s a big deal. So here’s what TIFF means to four actors and filmmakers who live in Toronto—all of whom will be heading into the festival fray to support first or second features that made the cut for the Discovery program—and what they hope (and fear) will happen at their big premieres.
Why they’re here…
Albert Shin: co-writer, editor, and director of In Her Place, premiering September 6, 2 p.m. at TIFF Bell Lightbox. (He previously produced Krivina, a TIFF 2012 entry by his York University classmate Igor Drljaca.)
Pat Mills: actor, writer, and director of Guidance, premiering Sept. 5, 6:30 p.m. at Scotiabank Theatre. (A Ryerson University grad, he had two shorts at TIFF and won the Telefilm Canada Pitch This! contest in 2008.)
Missy Peregrym: lead actor in Backcountry, premiering Sept. 8, 9 p.m. at Scotiabank Theatre. (She may be familiar from lead roles TV’s Reaper and Rookie Blue and the film Stick It.)
Jeffrey St. Jules: writer and director of Bang Bang Baby, premiering Sept. 8, 7:15 p.m. at Scotiabank Theatre. (He’s already had three short films appear at TIFF.)
The biggest reason their friends and neighbours need to see their handiwork…
Shin: It’s good to support the local guy.
Mills: I tuck my dick like Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.
Peregrym: I don’t know that they need to see it but it’s a thriller that’s a pretty intense ride. Bear attacks happen more often than we think or are told about and it definitely will make you think twice about camping.
St. Jules: Jane Levy is really, really good in it.
The most exciting and/or most intimidating thing about presenting their handiwork at TIFF…
Shin: The whole film world descends to the festival and it’s an amazing opportunity to raise awareness for the film and myself as a filmmaker. However, I feel most comfortable being behind the camera and hidden from view.
Mills: I tuck my dick like Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs—and my parents will be there.
Peregrym: I’ve never had a film at TIFF or have done the independent route so I have my eyes wide open to the experience. I’m nervous, for sure. It’s one thing to make a film or project—it’s another to share it with others.
St. Jules: Exciting because this is the first time showing an audience this film I’ve been working on for 10 years. Intimidating because this is the first time showing an audience this film I’ve been working on for 10 years.
Best-case scenario for the big premiere…
Shin: The whole film world embraces the film and I’m inundated with boatloads of money and offers to shoot my next film.
Mills: Everyone sneaks booze into the cinema, gets drunk and laughs at my expense.
Peregrym: Well, I guess I would love it if the people connected to the experience and enjoyed the film. That’s all I ever hope for, that people feel connected.
St. Jules: The audience will group-hug me.
Worst-case scenario for the big premiere…
Shin: I’m pelted with rotten tomatoes during my Q-and-A from utter outrage and disappointment from the audience.
Mills: We all get arrested for sneaking booze into the cinema and/or public indecency.
Peregrym: A bear attacks everyone in the theatre.
St. Jules: The audience will beat me up.