The "TIFF Survival Guide" Survival Guide
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The “TIFF Survival Guide” Survival Guide

As you head out to TIFF, we're really concerned about your survival. So we put together this important piece of service journalism for you, the fans.

“Remember your training, and you will make it back alive!”
Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven, 1997)


Every September, Toronto gets swept up in TIFF Survival Guide fever™ and this year, the 40th anniversary of the film festival, is no exception. But with so many TIFF Survival Guides to choose from every year, how do you know which one will help YOU make it through ten days of stars, movies and parties? This Survival Guide to TIFF Survival Guides will help you make the most of the information based on the kind of festival you plan to survive.

Note: When reviewing the wide variety of TIFF Survival Guides out there, it’s recommended that you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and keep a phone and a charger nearby so that you can call friends to let them know about some great tips.

TIFF Survival Guides generally cover three areas—the festival itself, the parties, and star-watching.


The Festival


The Intended Audience: The public, including fans of #movies and #popcorn.

Standard Format: These guides generally include advice on the major circumstances facing attendees— enduring lineups, strategies for getting tickets and rushing off-sale films. Some Survival Guides will offer additional information such as advice on contributing to Q&As at screenings.

Survival Tips That Can’t Be Stressed Enough In These Guides: Some TIFF Survival Guides concentrate only on such matters of ticketing and seating but the best TIFF Survival Guides will stress the importance of drinking water and eating real food throughout the festival period. Popcorn is delicious, and with a frosty soda can be a perfect accompaniment to even the grimmest drama, but food and water is literally the difference between surviving and not surviving the festival. The guides that recommend restaurants near the venues go the extra mile in ensuring your survival.

Don’t Believe the General View in These Guides: Many TIFF Survival Guides will offer criticism of the quality of questions at Q&As or even offer tips on the types of questions to ask. Instead, remember that a Q&A is what you make it – it’s alright to add a preface to the question revealing some of your life experiences and personal expertise, but when you feel the crowd get restless it’s time to move things along.

You Can Trust A Guide If: Thoughtful guides will mention that Festivals aren’t just about the blockbusters, but also those hidden gems!


Party Survival Guides


The Intended Audience: Fashionistas, industry attendees, people who see five movies tops during the festival, starwatchers.

Standard Format: What to wear to a party, cameraphone recommendations. These survival guides are the ones that are actually most likely to save your life— especially if you are attending multiple parties on successive days.

Survival Tips That Can’t Be Stressed Enough: These guides will generally specify exact brands of water and caffeine-infused eyeshadow that should be toted in clutch at all times—these bits of advice often blur the line between infotainment and advertorial, but they do indicate contemporary standards, and must be taken into consideration.

Don’t Believe the General View in These Guides: Despite what these guides tell you, you won’t be able to schmooze your way into a party or talk your way past the doorman at invite-only events. That only happens in movies.

You Can Trust A Guide If: Any trustworthy guide in this genre must mention at least two celebrities you may hypothetically find yourself mingling with should you attend a party.


Star-Watcher Survival Guides


The Intended Audience: Fans eager to catch a glimpse, take a selfie or grab a handshake with the celebrities that appear around town.

Standard Format: What stars are expected in town, which hotels, restaurants and parties might host them, what products are available to celebrities in various gifting lounges, cameraphone recommendations.

Survival Tips That Can’t Be Stressed Enough: Celebrity-spotting is fun, but planning and patience when staking out the stars is the key to survival.

Don’t Believe the General View in These Guides: Black Mass isn’t Johnny Depp’s “comeback” film; the star of Mortdecai never went away.

You Can Trust A Guide If It mentions that a great place to see celebrities is to hang out in Yorkville!

Congratulations! You are now ready to survive TIFF survival guides.


Jesse Hawken worked at TIFF from 2005-2014. You can follow him on Twitter.

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