It’s fun to go to a film festival as it’s an immersive and at times overwhelming experience seeing films with an appreciative audience in a condensed amount of time. Every year I prepare and hone the way that I get ready to dive into the experience to make sure that I am healthy, safe, and able to remember what I have seen.
Here is what I’m doing this year to get ready. At first I go on the website of the festival and go through all of the films and create a list on Letterboxd. I also copy the information about the film and create a document in Bear for each day. Having the descriptions and credits make it possible even to check on information about a film even when I don’t have wifi or data. It is also very useful to make sure the spelling of a name or title of a film is correct. The third thing is do with the data about the film is create a calendar entry using Fantastical in a new calendar that I create that has the full program listing of the festival. That way I have all of the films listed even if I can’t get online.
With the Letterboxd lists, the documents in Bear, and the calendar I then can start figuring out what I want to see. I’ll go through day by day and see what is playing and see if I recognize the director or the actor and do a bit of research. If it looks interesting I’ll duplicate the calendar entry and add it to my calendar. That’s how I make up the schedule of what I will potentially see. Then the potential conflicts show up with films playing at the same time or a film that will run into the start time of another film. Before the festival starts I will have a full schedule in my calendar with things to see every day.
The challenge with making up a schedule in advance is that sometimes you’ll be tired or not in the mood for the type of film you have chosen for that slot. So sometimes I’ll wrap it all up early or will change to something else. All of the films that are in a festival have been chosen, so there are always interesting things to see. So sometimes I change at the last minute based on my mood or what someone may mention to me. Those are wonderful moments as you may discover a film that you never heard about or know nothing about.
The other calculus that happens is to figure out what will be easier to see later and what will be more challenging. So I can skip the films that have a broader release scheduled and see the more obscure films. The other factor is having time to eat. So I will make sure that I have some granola bars in my bag and keep filling my water bottle. I’ll bring my lunch as much as possible and have my Starbucks card full so I can quickly order a snack or coffee as I’m leaving the theatre.
To keep track of what I’ve seen I’ll take notes in Bear or in a Field Notes notebook that I carry with me. I’ll log the film on Letterboxd with a capsule review and add it to a list of all of the films I’ve seen at the festival and log it in Drafts in a document that has all of the films I’ve seen as well. Then after the festival I’ll go through my lists and create another list of my favourite films of the festival.
It’s a bunch of work to get things set up, but it gets me ready and thinking about all of the details of the films and it helps me keep track of what I’ve seen (and what I need to see if I’ve missed something). Films festivals are a lot of fun and give you a great opportunity to see a diverse range of films in a very short period of time.