The Toronto International Film Festival – The Scenes behind the Screens

“My name is Carol

I am an ordinary person who on several days during early September had the privilege of doing an extraordinary job

A job you cannot do anywhere else in the world…….

I was a Volunteer at the Toronto International Film Festival – part of the TIFF volunteer army at what is widely considered to be the largest Public Film Festival on the planet

Forget the glam, the glitz and the galas, this is the grass roots level of the Festival, the crowds, the chaos (organized of course), and the queues; the lost, the confused, the angry and the excited.

We of the orange TShirts are your directions; your answers to questions; we are the “live” version of your Festival Guide.

You can count on us – as you line up to claim your ticket; your seat; your glimpse of Celebrity.

You will find us behind every red carpet “updo” and mega watt smile; at every barrier, theatre or stage door and even on the the corners of streets in the downtown locales of the streets.

Our iconic orange Tshirts are the beacon of sanity amidst the wonderful annual brouhaha that is TIFF.

So what’s a day working at the Festival like?

Read On….

To even get to this day volunteers have submitted an essay on why we should be chosen; attended a selection session; an interview, and attended 2 training sessions. We have had the Customer Service doctrine drummed into us “in the nicest possible way” and we are expected to be totally professional around the myriad celebrities and hordes of general public that will walk into our line of vision.

6.am wake up call (for a 7.30 start today at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on King Street West). Unfold and fight my way into a freshly pressed “Florida” orange volunteer TShirt – (4 sizes fit all)

7.15am – Arrive at The Tiff Bell Lightbox – O&B Canteen shut so no coffee before kick off. Greeted at entrance by the early bird Orange T shirt shift who at this point are marshalling volunteers to the Volunteer Lounge on Floor 4

Arrive at the Volunteer Lounge
– done it all before and have had refresher training so know exactly what to expect. This time I have elected to be a Theatre volunteer at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the majority of my shifts with one “Go anywhere, Do anything” “ACE” shift where in fact I get sent home early because of the lack of need for back up during that afternoon!

Three other buzz- filled days follow, filled with usher and “clicking” duties and I got lucky in that I “saw” 3 movies whilst ushering, one of which was s star studded gala! I also used my volunteer tickets (the perk) to see a move at Hot Docs cinema on Bloor as a bona fide ticketed member of the audience and I attempted to use one of my treasured tickets to rush a Press & Industry” screening for the Bill Murray movie – which was full do after a 45 minute wait I leave movie less. So now I know what it feels like first hand to “fail” in the Rush line!!!

Being a movie-goer at the festival is not for the faint hearted. Guests range from serious TIFF aficionados who research every TIFF contender simply wanting to get a first shot at seeing a movie that will go on general release very soo, to those that want to catch a “never to be publicly released gem”. Others will take vacation after pouring over mind blowing colour coded schedules; trying to decipher the movie pass/members’ pass dynamics. They will queue up to watch back to back films whilst working out how to skew the space/time continuum in order to catch a movie at a theatre 10 minutes away from a screening that ends 5 minutes before the next one starts!!!.

Queuing amongst these are those that merely want to be part of something very special, to catch a little red-carpet reflected glamour. Whatever the reason, as a Volunteer I got to see from the inside the amount of trouble and care taken to maintain TIFF’s standing as the largest public film festival in the world and to maintain its reputation as the “go to” Film Festival for both Movie makers, celebrities, press and public..

In short TIFF has it all sewn up from the inside out.
I’ll be back – as they say…..
Over and Out

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