For those of us in the film industry, every season is festival season but it really ramps up for us here in Toronto throughout the late summer and early winter. One of the crowning glories of the film festivals around the world is the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which this year screened nearly 400 films out of the 6,933 films submitted. Of those, 138 were world premieres representing 83 countries. Canada presented well with 38 features and dozens and dozens of shorts. All this was seen on 28 screens around the city over the course of 10 days.
The celebration of film didn’t end there. The City of Toronto made a gala of it all shutting down a large portion of King Street West as well as side streets, allowing pedestrians to stroll the city streets without impediment. Bands, pop-up events, vendors and food trucks all lined King St and premieres could be seen from the sidelines. This truly was the people’s festival.
For many, film festivals represent a chance to see great films, see what’s coming to theatres soon, learn about some hidden gems and lesser known films and of course, possibly catch a glimpse of a celebrity or two. For those of us in the industry, it’s a time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and discuss future work and collaborations. Yes, we are the poor individuals that must attend the dinners, events and galas that aren’t necessarily open to the public. So for those of you that can’t be a part of the behind the scenes events, I thought I might share a few here with you.
Nothing is more spectacular and prestigious than the opening night galas of a film or a private event. This year I was asked to join my friends and colleagues from Raven Banner Entertainment and TOM|*FW -Toronto Men’s Fashion Week at their Men of Hollywood event held at the posh One King Street West. The event combined fashion and film, not an unlikely pairing, and blended very well. The film being celebrated was “Hello, Destroyer”, a film about a junior hockey player whose life is turned upside down with an in-game act of violence. The film opened at TIFF to rave reviews.
The party was complete with a live orchestra, delicious finger foods, and of course…an open bar. It was attended by directors, distributors, producers, fashionistas, celebrities and socialites. Aside from celebrating the success of my friends and colleagues I was able to chat about current and future projects, network and just have an all-around good time. One of the highlights of the event was the red carpet lined fashion show featuring several designers from TOM|*FW as well as the cast of the film “Hello Destroyer”.
The seamless collaboration between the fashion world and the film world was due to Michaelangelo Masangkay, General Manager at Raven Banner and also Director of Operation as TOM|*FW. The busy event specialist also surprised guests with an impromptu rendition of “Ain’t that a Kick in the Head” by Dean Martin, accompanied by the orchestra. Michaelangelo, an old hometown friend, has been supportive of the Toronto Film School for years and I have had the pleasure of partnering up with TOM|*FW for many years now, supplying them with students to shoot various fashion shows and events. The collaboration with TOM|*FW is a unique asset to the Toronto Film School, particularly the Film Production and Fashion Design diplomas.
Raven Banner Entertainment along with their second arm Northern Banner, lead by partners Michael Paszt, James Fler and Andrew Hunt and of course Michaelangelo, has also been a big supporter of Toronto Film School. Michael is a dedicated instructor at Toronto Film School and integral to the development of many of our festival worthy fifth term films. He also has been known to offer students gigs within his company or projects.
James Fler and Andrew Hunt have been integral for many years in helping provide feedback that helps shape our ever adapting Film Production program, as well as a sounding board and judges at our Toronto Film School Festival of Films. Raven Banner and my company KliC Creative Solutions (which also happily has been known to utilize the talents of Toronto Film School students and alumni) has also been integral in the creation of Raven Banner Releasing a movie streaming platform specializing in genre films that are compelling and innovative, and sometimes just a little bit dark and eerie, and The Cinemachina a film news and review site featuring contributions by many of our Toronto Film School Alumni, including Andrew Step, Anelle Dehghani and Michelle Long.
Along with the TOM|*FW and the Raven Banner party, there was also a whirlwind of other events and meetings during the TIFF week. I have been meeting, greeting and rubbing elbows with many companies as well as delegates from China, who are looking to partner with filmmakers here in Toronto. These meetings, impromptu and otherwise, took place at hotels, restaurants, offices and parties and at all hours of the day and night. Even with TIFF coming to a wrap many of the collaborations, co-productions and partnerships are just beginning and more is yet to come. Stay tuned as I’m always happy to share.
Christopher Lane is an instructor in the Film Production Diploma Program at Toronto Film School. He is a writer, producer and director who has been working in the film industry for more than 20 years.