Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scheduling Pt.2 (Prioritizing)

As you begin to narrow down your film selections, you should establish what you hope to get out of the experience.

Step 1: Decide what kind of festival-goer you are:
Many people like to only select the smaller films that don’t have wide releases planned or distribution deals inked. The rationale is that they can eventually see the studio films when they are released officially later in the year. This would mean avoiding many of the Galas or any film from a large studio. If this is what you’re interested in, the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is the fall movie preview and outlines the upcoming films by date. Other festival-goers prefer to follow the stars. For this, I would suggest Galas and the Special Presentation programs. But if catching a glimpse of a celebrity is something you take seriously, you don’t necessarily need tickets to do that. Go to the film’s theater an hour to two early and get a great spot in front of the theater. This way you can catch the stars entering the theater at a good distance without having to be restrained by the length and distance of the ticket line. The bigger stars are typically in the larger films, which are the Galas. But, from my experience, you have a better chance staking out a smaller venue to see the smaller films with marquee names. And lastly, if you don't care who's in the movie, when it’s coming out, and simply want to see a good film, then the selection process is wide-open. I personally don’t have the luxury of skipping out on the studio films since I have 2 kids and don’t get out to the theater as often as I would like. So, I simply select a wide mix of films that simply cater to my tastes. For this, there is no real way to immediately narrow down the selection besides following your instincts and the intrigue of the film’s premise.

Step 2: With such a large and wonderful selection of films, you will have to start prioritizing somewhere. As I stated in my previous posting, start by highlighting and identifying the films you absolutely CANNOT miss. This will make things surprisingly more concrete because, as luck will always have it, there will be 3 films you think you HAVE TO SEE that are playing simultaneously. So, by identifying which of those Must See films are most important, you have already made some decisions about your priorities. Consider making the films that are playing simultaneously and subsequently not chosen, your Second Choice selections.

Step 3: Determine your First and Second Choices. If you’re doing the advance draw, take the First and Second Choice labels seriously and be sure to always have a Second Choice identified. This determination will shape your entire schedule. If you want to see both the First and Second Choice films, look to find when their repeat screening takes place and try to select that one as your First Choice on another day. But sooner or later, you have to accept that a Must See film may become a Second Choice film by scheduling default. Also, make sure your Second Choice works with your next/upcoming First and Second choices later in the day. So in actuality, you’re creating two schedules and they both have to work interchangeably.

You have identified your must list, now its time to fill in the gaps. This will be the majority of your film selections. The next TIFF Tips will explore all the things to consider when narrowing down your final film list.

Questions about the post or having trouble navigating the festival? Post your questions in the Comments section and I will do my best to respond promptly.

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