Tips And Tricks To Surviving TIFF - Raindance

Are you ready for the biggest film festival in North America and the second largest in the world after Cannes? Long days of films and conferences flow into even longer nights of parties and premieres-

We must prepare ourselves!

After a few seasons of battling it out in the TIFF trenches as an Actress / Model / Events Planner Avaah Blackwell, has some easy tips and tricks to help ensure your success during Canada’s biggest film event of the year!

First: Do Your Mental Prep

First things first- Why are you TIFFing?

Once you are clear on this, decisions are much easier. Planning around one or two complementary objectives will help streamline success.

Examples of your TIFF objectives:

Decide what it is you are doing:
Are you selling a script,
Trying to secure film distribution,
seeking representation,
Expanding your network (and if so, then who do you need to add to your network- producers, directors etc).
or Feeding your inner cinephile,

Remember: TIFF is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of all the parties and rush around. Plan around 1-3 things per day (Ex: 1 film 1 conference and 1 meeting) that match your objective and go from there.


Schedule your days as best you can, and leave room for travel time, eating and sleeping- you are still human.

For more on festival mental prep, check out Wipsters Blog Post

Second: It’s in the bag!

You’ll be out on the town away from your home base. It’s important to carry supplies with you soldier! I suggest two different types targeted for daytime and night time.

Daytime bag

A small stylish backpack to keep your lumbar happy

Daytime bag essentials:

  • Portable film packages- on usb sticks if possible. Or on a link in a prepared text on your phone (more on this in a bit)
  • Your TIFF Pass
  • Business Cards and Pen (You want to write notes on cards you get to remember people)
  • Cards of any sponsors that you have.
  • Itinerary (aka your schedule)
  • Phone Charger & Extra battery
  • Water + Sunscreen
  • Mints (better than gum as chewing in meetings looks bad)
  • Dental floss sticks and travel size mouthwash – to get those hors’d oeuvres out of your pearly whites!
  • 1 – 2 Protein bars (Quest are great)
  • Mint Essential oil (it keeps you cool, calm and smells nice)
  • Deodorant (travel size)
  • Extra hair elastics
  • OIl Blotting Pads
  • Baby wipes (put 5 or so in a ziplock bag)
  • Tide to go pen
  • Basic makeup for touch ups (Mascara, concealer, lip gloss, powder, Nars Multiple)
  • Travel size dry Shampoo and a comb
  • Sunglasses

Night Time Bag Essentials:

Bring only the necessities as TIFF night time is about moving quickly and freely while making connections and having fun. Think Glenn moving through the city on The Walking Dead, but – uh – more glamorous, less deadly.

Ladies – Ditch the big bag for a sleek and streamlined clutch.
Bring: Travel size powder, lipstick and concealer, some bandaids/cushions for your feet, double-sided tape for unruly hems, lash glue
Gents– either put belongings in your into your suit jacket or bring a small sleek bag.

  • Credit Card & some Cash (quick moving means quick payments when necessary)
  • ID and Business cards
  • Mints ( NOT OPTIONAL) no one wants to be accosted with your garlicky vodka breathe at 11:30 pm. Or anytime for that matter.
  • Party Smart Pill. Take with your first drink. You will thank me later.

9 More TIFF Tips for Success

● Raindance has lots of great info and insight on how to attend festivals. Go to the website for some more clues related to your specific goals.


Have your pitch ready about YOURSELF and your project. Selling your project means selling them on you! Keep it under 20 seconds.

2.Learn the art of listening

Nuff said. Smile.

3.About your feet

Wear comfortable shoes during the day. You’re on your feet a lot. Night time is all about the heels.

4.Nothing to wear?

Talk to local designers about sponsoring you!

5.Up your photo gallery

I like to take a photo with people and have a prepared text ready to customize and fire off to people I meet. I keep it in my notes, copy and paste into a text and send off. It helps me to remember who these people are and get my info to them quickly and easily.

6.Avoid giant phone bills

Be diligent about sending messages to international contacts via the internet- iPhone to iPhone use iMessage, otherwise, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Viber or Email are all popular choices.

7.Learn to call it quits

Set a time to end your day and put an alarm in your phone. This helps you to say good night and go home to do your follow up emails, and get some rest before the games begin again the next day.

8.Eat healthily and limit the drinks

With open bars and passed hors’ d’oeuvres it’s easy to overindulge. I pick 2 or 3 events to have some drinks at, and keep it to under 3 drinks. You’re there for business. Be sure to hold yourself to a standard of professional excellence. The more you drink and eat junk, the less productive you will be.

9.RSVP to parties:

Do some research in the next few weeks about events you want to go to and find an email to RSVP to.

Remember – this is work and play together so have fun!

Happy TIFFing!

– Avaah Blackwell

About Avaah Blackwell

Avaah Blackwell is an internationally trained Actress and Model. She graduated from Prague film school at the top of her class. Avaah has appeared in over fifty films which have been screened at Cannes, Pifan, NYCLIFF, and LA Shorts. She is also a Martial Artist, Fashion Model and Events Director.




This is the Toronto hub of the Raindance Film festival - Europe's oldest and largest independent film festival. We have one aim, and one aim only: To help GTA area filmmakers make movies. Call us if you have any questions. Or email Lets make movies.