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Hot Docs Jots

Hot Docs Insider Guide - Doin' It Right!

In anticipation of the Festival, the entire Hot Docs staff have shared their Festival tips and best kept secrets that will come in handy as you navigate the program and market over the 11 days of Hot Docs!

Sage Industry Advice

·         First timers: The Delegate Lounge in the Industry Centre is a great meeting spot. It also has computers for delegate use and charge bars for re-charging your devices.

·         Come prepared. If you're pitching a project, study the list of attending decision makers. When you meet them, tell them why your film fits their slate. The more you know, the more professional you will appear.

·         Secure a sales agent before your world premiere. Hiring a publicist also goes a long way. If your screening a film at the Festival, try to have at least an elevator pitch for your next project.

·         The WiFi info for each industry venue is printed on the back of your pass and in the Industry Guide.

·         Read the website and follow instructions - everything you need to know is there and you will avoid disappointment when you are at the festival only to realize that you needed to pre-register for something.

Networking and Pitching Logistics

·         The Online Community is the best place to find contact information and details for attending delegates. Use it to book your meetings in advance

·         Prepare business cards or postcards that have your film link on them to hand to key industry folks. Also, keep business cards and a small pen in your pass for easy access!

·         Anything more than a business card, postcard or one-sheet is too big for a take-away.

·         If you're asking people to view a trailer on your iPad or laptop, provide them with outside, not in-ear, headphones.

·         This is a great place to network and make meaningful connections for your career, but it's not just taking someone's business card or only adding them on LinkedIn. Follow up post-Festival via e-mail, invite them for coffee, and get to know each other. You never know where a connection might lead.

·         Use the Happy Hours to network and meet new people—you'll meet people from all over the world.

·         Looking for a meeting spot to meet or eat? Visit The Mill Street Hub and The Nook for additional networking spaces and coffee!


Take a Breather

·         Whenever possible, bask in the spring sunshine.

·         If it's a nice day, take a stroll through Philosopher’s Walk or grab a coffee at The Royal Conservatory of Music. It is very quiet and you can find great isolated spots to concentrate on work or make phone calls.

·         The Peace Garden is a little urban oasis right beside the E.J. Pratt library on the Victoria College campus – great little tucked away spot with benches to take a break or meet someone.

·         If you need a break, rent a bike and go for a ride on Toronto Island. The perfect de-stresser and Toronto's best kept secret!

·         A 3 day hour pass to Toronto's Bike Share scheme is just $15 and will provide you with unlimited 30-minute journeys for 72 hours. A fantastic way to get some air, enjoy the city sites and get from A - B speedily. Head to any of the 200 Bike Share stations across the city to buy your pass.

·         Reasonably priced mani's and pedi's can be found 5 min from the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema at Spring Nails at Bloor St W and Manning.


Seeing Films

·         You may be busy taking meetings and attending sessions, but try to sneak in as many screenings as possible. A block of tickets for each screening is held for industry pass holders. Just show up at the venue and show your pass. Tickets are never guaranteed, but if you arrive at least 15 minutes before you have a good chance of getting in.

·         Leave flex time in your schedule to catch a movie you only hear about in a line-up.

·         Festival roulette: Just go to a screening – don’t’ read ahead of time just walk in and sit down and be surprised. It never disappoints!

·         Go see a film from a country you’ve never been to or by a filmmaker you have never heard of. Sometimes your most memorable film will be one you didn’t expect.

·         Use The Doc Shop to watch docs and, more importantly, to showcase your film. Delegates may not make it to your screenings, so this is a great alternative.

·         Need to get between the Industry Centre and the TIFF Bell Lightbox/ Scotiabank Theatre? Catch the subway at Museum Station (beside the Industry Centre) and get to St. Andrew Station in five minutes.

·         If you plan on seeing more than one film at a venue on the same day, you can pick up tickets to the screenings at that venue at once. Don’t waste time lining up!


Food and Drink 

·         Natural Sushi on Yonge Street is a five-minute walk from the Industry Centre. They have good food, cheap lunch specials ($6 to $10), big portions, and discounts on takeout.

·         Healthy and cheap lunches can be found across the street from the Bader Theatre at Wymilwood Café.

·         The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema is licensed, so bring your beer money.

·         Looking for access to fresh fruits and veggies? Whole Foods is a short walk from the Park Hyatt and the Manulife Centre (Bay and Bloor) has a market.

·         The Rooftop Bar of the Park Hyatt is a quiet and classy location for a quick meeting and or relaxing drink.


The So-Called No Brainers

·         Stay hydrated.

·         Look both ways before jaywalking, including on one-way streets in the Annex (some are two-way for cyclists). Check for cyclists when exiting taxis and Ubers.

·         Thank a volunteer. If they're not busy, strike up a conversation. Most of them are volunteering because they love docs.

·         Don't be afraid to ask the staff questions, that's what we are here for.  If you are looking for someone, the industry and registration teams are great resources to help you identify people.

·         If you want to make it from the 9:00am panels to the late night dance parties make sure you wear comfy shoes and drink lots of water.

·         Don't drink all the alcohol just because it's free ; )

·         Keep a banana in your bag at all times

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