Attending Film Festivals: Need Your Help

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Kevin Leonard, Oct 13, 2003.

  1. Kevin Leonard

    Kevin Leonard Supporting Actor

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    I've been seriously entertaining the thought of attending next year's San Francisco International Film Festival, which runs for 2 weeks, usually in mid-April. You can check out the site for last year's festival here:

    http://www.sfiff.org/fest03/index.html

    Some of the notable films that were shown at this year's festival included: L'Auberge Espagnole, Bus 174, Cabin Fever, The Dancer Upstairs, Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary, The Eye, Man on a Train, The Man Without a Past, Owning Mahowny, The Secret Lives of Dentists, Together, Whale Rider, and Winged Migration.

    I plan to spend all 2 weeks there seeing at least two, three movies a day. However, I have never attended a film festival in my entire life, and I was hoping to get some info from those of you who have attended festivals in the past. My major and minor concerns:

    1) Like most festivals, passes which allow you to skip lines and directly go inside the theaters are offered for sale. Are they generally worth it? If so, how much time should I give myself before the film starts (for seats)? If I choose to buy individual tickets, again, how much time should I give myself?

    2) Should I decide to buy a pass, what is the latest time I could buy, and still have a shot in hell of actually getting in? How fast do passes generally sell out?

    3) Since I live 30+ miles away from the festival, I will probably have to spring for a motel/hotel room. In your experience, have nearby hotels given festival discounts?

    4) The films at the SFIFF tend to be show multiple times on different days. Is there a general decline in audience attendance on post-premiere showings? I'd like to see a film on opening day, but I really don't want to shove and push to get a decent seat.

    5) How did you handle the food situation? Give yourself enough time between showings to sit down and eat, did you use the concession stand and eat in the theater (or is that even allowed at festivals), or did you just simply eat a big meal before going to the festival?

    6) How are the audiences in general? What I mean by that is: do they make noise (cell phones, talking, etc.), or do they behave themselves and generally stay quiet?

    7) How helpful have you found the festival staff? If I have a question, will they help me out, or am I basically left to my own devices? Should I ask fellow festival-goers instead?

    8) Can I expect the streets to be incredibly crowded during festival times? SF is already a busy city, and the addition of more people on the streets isn't going to make my day.

    9) Just how much am I expected to spend? This includes passes/tickets, food, lodging, miscellaneous expenditures. Again, I'm trying to get a general consensus here.

    10) Finally, is it worth it?

    While not on the level of Cannes, Sundance or Telluride, the SF Festival does have it share of celebs come through. Robert Altman, Kevin Spacey, Warren Beatty, Sharon Stone, Sean Penn, Francis Coppola, and Dustin Hoffman have appeared in the past, and there are often after-show parties thrown for the big movies. I am not really sure if this has any bearing on attendance levels (and lines!).

    I guess now would be a good time to tell you that I work as a part-time contractor, which means things like paid sick days and vacations do not exist in my world. My work is about 10 miles away from the festival, so I could in theory take the transit system in the morning, work my hours and get back to the festival. But I don't even want to think about how much work and 3 movies a day will affect me physically.

    I am aware that any answers given will be different from person to person, but what I'm trying to get is a feel for film festivals, and to form some ideas as to what to expect. The last thing I want to do is go in totally blind, especially with a festival like this.

    Any answers, stories, experiences, tips, etc. you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I'm speaking from my experience at Boston's film festival, which is pretty low-profile (and doesn't have a festival pass available), but...
     
  3. Nick C.

    Nick C. Second Unit

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    I've thought bout attending the SFIFF the past few years, but, kinda like Cannes, it's so early in the year that few Hollywood studio/studio-lings' titles are out by then... not that the Oscars mean anything [​IMG] Or even if they are screened, they are often virtually workprints and receive numerous edits before the final release that the rest of the world will experience--ie Brown Bunny, Dogville (recent von Trier interview I read).

    Since one will be living in a hotel rather than commutting locally, one might spend the 2 weeks in Toronto, New York, or, notably closer, Telluride. I recall reading over at David Poland's Hot Button site about various tips Telluride attendees gave to potential festival visitors, one of which was to live a good drive away from the site to save on the costs--I think one figure was $200/night in town versus $40 out of town, a good 30mins drive away
     
  4. Doug D

    Doug D Stunt Coordinator

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    when I went to Telluride, I camped. I had to get there a day early, right near noon, to get a site, but it worked out pretty well. I mean, other than being totally cold, but that was because I under packed. It's also a pretty easy place to deal with logistics like food and stuff. All in all, I'd recommend it.
     
  5. Kevin Leonard

    Kevin Leonard Supporting Actor

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    (Sorry I couldn't respond earlier: school and work are taking massive chunks of my time.)

    Thanks for your help! A lot can happen in the next six months; I might not have the time nor the the finances to attend, but if I do, the info above will definitely help.

     

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