Thursday, August 23, 2007

Advanced Ticketing

Tuesday, August 28 marks the beginning of the advanced ticket selection for those who bought a Festival pass, a Daytime Pass, or a 10-Film Package (where films are not pre-selected by the festival). If you ordered any of these a while ago, you should have already received in the mail an Envelope voucher, a Drop Off voucher, and a Pick Up voucher. If you purchased a 2007 Programme Book, you should have also received a pick up voucher for that.

Starting Tuesday, August 28 at 9:00 AM, you can go to the Festival Box Office at College Park, 444 Yonge Street, south entrance, Market Level. You must go to this specific box office only. Note that there is no advantage to arriving right at 9:00 AM, for reasons explained later in this post.

When you go to the Festival Box Office, ensure you have your Envelope voucher (and your Programmer Book voucher if you have one of those). You exchange the voucher for an envelope and an Advanced Order Book. Note that it appears that the procedure has changed slightly from previous years, in that you may only get one envelope and form, as opposed to one per set of tickets. For example, I bought 3 10-film packages. Last year, I got 3 order forms and 3 envelopes; it appears that this year, I might only get one. Consult with the festival staff at the box office to ensure you get the correct number of forms based on this year's procedure.

If you have a Programme Book voucher, you can also exchange it for the full-colour, comprehensive festival guide.

Ensure that you also pick up a copy of the Official Film Schedule, as you will need this to complete your order.

Fill out each order form you received with your selections. You can consult one of my previous posts on how to fill out the order form:

Once you have filled out the form, place it in the envelope you received when you picked up the form, and include your Drop Off voucher. Do not seal the envelope, and do not include any Pick Up vouchers; you need to keep those ones yourself for later.

Take your completed forms back to the Festival Box Office and drop them off no later than 1:00 PM on Friday, August 31, to be eligible for the advanced ticket draw. Any orders received after this date and time will not be in the advanced ticket draw. You can drop off the forms any time from August 29 up to August 31 at 1:00 PM.

The festival staff then spends the weekend processing orders. You can then line up at the Festival Box Office any time from Monday, September 3 at 10:00 AM onwards to pick up your completed forms and see what movies you received. Take your Pick Up vouchers with you to exchange for your processed order forms.

Most people line up on the Monday to pick up their completed packages (and there is usually a substantial line). If you didn't receive all your desired films, you can usually line up in a different line that day to select alternative movies with any remaining coupons you have.

For anyone who did not order advanced tickets, general ticketing opens to the public on Wednesday, September 5, online, by phone, and at all the box offices.

Now, why don't you need to line up first thing on August 28th to get your order form? Because the festival has a lottery system to determine from what point they start processing orders. Therefore, there is no inherent benefit to getting your order forms returned early. Here's how the system works:

1. The festival starts with a whole bunch of empty boxes, numbered sequentially.

2. As people turn in their order forms, the forms are placed in the lowest numbered box that has room:

Here we can see completed forms being placed in box #1.

3. Once a box is full, forms are placed in the next available box, in this case box #2:

4. And once that box is full, they move to the next one, in this case box #3:

5. Once all forms have been received by the deadline, the festival has a bunch of filled, numbered boxes:

6. They then randomly draw a number from 1 to whatever the highest number box they have, in this example, 80. The number drawn represents the box number from which the festival starts processing orders. Assume for this example that 33 was the number drawn:

The festival starts processing the forms in box #33. Once they have processed all the forms in the box, they move to the next one in numerical order, in this case #34. They continue until they reach the highest numbered box, here #80. Once they finish with that box, they loop back around to box #1 and start moving upwards, until they reach the box one number before the one drawn (#32). The festival usually sends e-mails out letting you know which of your choices you have gotten.

At this point, all advanced orders have been processed and will be ready for pickup. In this example, if you were lucky enough to be in box #33, you would've gotten all your picks. But if you were in box #32, you probably won't get a lot of your picks. In that case, for each pick that wasn't fulfilled you typically receive a coupon which you can use to select a film from whatever still has tickets available. You can use these coupons any time during the duration of the festival.

Just for interest, the graph below gives you an idea of when people submitted their order forms last year:

The bulk seemed to drop their forms off in the final three hours or so before the deadline. Last year, box 22 was randomly drawn as the starting point. I had forms in boxes 7 and 12, and there were three out of about 24 movies I didn't get.


Is there a limit to the number of tickets to attend one particular visa screening with a purchase of a 10-film package?


Last year, you were limited to 10 tickets per film. So if you had a 10 pack, you and nine friends could have gone to the same film. I haven't seen any info for this year, but I'd imagine it would be similar.

I am staying in NY and just bought a 10-film pack not knowing that I have to go to the boxoffice myself before the festival. I will be arriving at Toronto after the festival starts. Will there be any chance to buy a ticket I want with my 10-film pack? No online reservation allowed? Please give me any advice...

I'd call the festival to confirm what you can do. Typically in the advanced ordering process, if you have tickets left over from a 10-pack (because you selected film was already full) the festival would give you coupons you could redeem for films during the festival.

The festival does have an out-of-town service, but they stopped taking orders for that on Aug 23. You could call them and see if there's anyway you could still get in on that:

Ok, still worried but I'll see what I can do. Thank you very much. :)

My friends and I (two others)have made plans to come to Toronto for the film festival. We have our accomodations. What we have not are tickets. What are our chances of purchasing tickets for our choices? Is it too late?

Apparently, we thought that the tickets would be available until the last week of August. Now as we tried to purchase, only the premium seats are available on-line at this time.

When was the schedule available?

Teresa in OHIO


You can buy tickets for films that are at the Roy Thomson Hall theatre or the VISA Screening Room theatre right now through the festival website.

For all other films, they should go on sale on the 5th by phone or online if you aren't in town by then; otherwise, you can go to the box offices. I believe the festival may release additional tickets for individual sales starting the 5th, but I recommend you call or go online as soon as they start the sales that day so you can try to get your picks (especially if you want to see more of the popular films).

Otherwise, there should still be plenty of other films to see. The first few years I went to the festival, I just bought individual tickets during the festival itself for whatever films I could get. It can be kind of hit and miss, but I still got to see some interesting ones.

To your other question, the schedule only came out on August 28th, except for the big galas at Roy Thomson Hall and the VISA Screening Room theatres. But the schedule at that point is really only useful if you've bought ticket packs or passes, which go on sale back around the beginning of July.

Thank you Richard

Teresa in Ohio

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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