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Hot Docs Jots

How to Hot Docs!

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 Rogers 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.

Networking and Pitching Logistics

  • The Online Community is the best place to find contact information and details for attending delegates.
  • 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!

 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.
  • 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!

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.
  • 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. Pro Tip: Visit The Doc Shop during quiet periods, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., May 2 to 6
  • Need to get between the Rogers Industry Centre and the TIFF Bell Lightbox/ Scotiabank Theatre? Catch the subway at Museum Station  (beside the Rogers Industry Centre) and get to St. Andrew Station in five minutes.
  • Seeing a movie at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema? Cutting edge VR and interactive projects are on display at Hot Docs House (610 Markham Street) from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., April 29 to May 7.
  • 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 Rogers Industry Centre. They have good food, cheap lunch specials ($6 to $10), big portions, and discounts on takeout.
  • The Bloor Hot Docs 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.

Categories: Hot Tips


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Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Signature Partner

  • logo documentary-Channel

Presenting Partners

  • logo Bell-Media
  • logo Netflix
  • logo Rogers
  • Logo Samsung

Major Supporters

  • logo Celebrate-Ontario
  • logo telefilm