A student guide to TIFF

[C]ontrary to popular belief, September is the most wonderful times of the year. There’s fall fashion, cooler temperatures, seasonal Starbucks drinks, and of course, the Toronto International Film Festival. The festival always brings an air of excitement to the city, with anticipation for both the glitz and glam of the stars, as well as and the world-class movies that are screened each year.

Although film festival season may be a time to celebrate, lets face it – as students in September, we’re flat broke. Textbooks, reloading your OneCard for Tim Horton’s runs, and buying a new Ryerson hoodie has cleared your wallet out quicker than you can say Eggerton, meaning a limited amount of cash to spend on attending the festival.

But fear not, fellow broke students, for the Folio has got some tips on the best, budget-friendly ways to enjoy the 10 days of TIFF madness without breaking the bank.

Sign up for a TIFF Student Membership

For $45 dollars, you can sign up for a TIFF Student Membership. Not only does this mean you get wicked offers all year around – including savings on restaurants, theatres, Argos tickets and hotels – you get the advanced opportunity to purchase TIFF ticket packages. Who doesn’t enjoy priority access? Members get to pick up their tickets in a special area with virtually no line-up, meaning you won’t have to skip a lecture to camp out on King Street just to grab your movie tickets. Compared to the regular $99 basic membership price, and considering the time it’ll ultimately save you, the student membership and its year of rewards is worth skipping a couple coffee runs to afford.

Regular screenings, Docs, and Mavericks

If you’re simply at the festival to stalk celebrities, you may not be aware that the mass majority of attendees are actually at the film festival for, well, the films. In total, 366 movies are screening at TIFF this year. Regular screening, meaning no red carpet, run for $23.50 per ticket, but if you’re under 25 you can snag a ticket for a very manageable $17. The school year’s just starting up for students, and regular screenings are often much simpler to schedule class time around compared to the mid-day and evening red carpet galas during the first two weeks of the semester. They’ll also be much easier to purchase tickets to, so your stress levels won’t be through the roof before your first class has even begun. Twenty-two documentaries are as well scheduled to screen, if you’re looking for other alternatives to the jam-packed premium screenings, and the TIFF Mavericks series, which features filmmakers and actors, is a great way to pick up insider information from your favourite film icon while picking the brains of some of the leaders in the industry, although those usually do sell-out.

Volunteer

Love the entire atmosphere of the festival? Why not volunteer! Although the opportunity is now closed for this year’s festival, volunteering at TIFF is a simple and free way to get access to all the excitement. A volunteer position may just be helping organize pre-screening lineups, but it can also potentially entail seating Michael Fassbender during his movie screening – and maybe even falling in love (we make no promises). You don’t get paid, but you do get a free TIFF ticket voucher with every volunteer session, that can be redeemed for film screenings and special exhibit admission throughout the year. Check out the TIFF website in the summer for next year’s volunteer opportunity, grab a couple of friends, and get involved in the festival.

Plan a Ryerson Stakeout

Simply excited for TIFF to gawk at the rich and famous? That’s okay too. One of the best and easiest ways to hunt down a celebrity is right at our own Ryerson Theatre. The theater is home to many premium screenings, with the actors and directors in attendance. So rather than making the trek down to Roy Thompson Hall, students can simply walk over right after class to secure a spot in red carpet pandemonium, and make it back in time for their next tutorial. And if you do have the extra time, but can’t afford the $28.25 Under 25 premium ticket price, red carpet gazing is free, fun, and can often earn you an autograph or a few quick words with a starlet.

The other great thing about the Ryerson Theatre is the red carpet isn’t the largest, but still extends much further than the ones at the Elgin or Princess of Wales. That means celebrities often don’t mind going back and forth from the media side to the screaming fans opposite and covering a large amount of land. That’s not to say everyone will stop, but out of all the red carpet locations, this one’s convenient for students and one of the best of the entire festival.