SIFF 2012 Pro-Tips

TSB at SIFF 2012

As you may have noticed by now, we’re almost a week into this year’s SIFF. So time to stop acting like a n00b. SIFF like a pro, courtesy of our time- and fest-tested tips:

  • Plan ahead. Check the SIFF website to see if guests will be at the screening for a Q&A, for timing and scheduling purposes, if not for celeb-watching. Check the festival updates page regularly for, y’know, updates, so you’ll have the heads up before a screening sells out.
  • Technology is your friend! SIFF is never as tech-integrated as one would like, but make use of the iSIFF app, the SIFFter, My SIFF, and the ability to email your personal festival schedule to friends.
  • Consider buying in bulk. Ticket packages cut down on service fees and are cheaper per ticket, especially if you’re a senior or student: $35 for 5 films ain’t bad.
  • Flying by the seat of your pants and getting into a film via the standby line is a complete crapshoot–don’t count on it for a popular film. But if a miracle does occur, those tickets are full price and cash only.
  • However, it doesn’t hurt to try your luck with whatever happens to be playing on whatever night you happen to be free. Not *every* screening has an interminable line…and many times you may walk right in to a half-empty theater. It’s the chance to experience seeing something you enjoy on some level, if only just a window to a different world/experience than what you’re used to. Give in to the festival.
  • Head to a SIFF box office to get your tickets in advance and avoid an extra line at the venue for will call. If you must pick up tickets at will call, try to drop in between screenings and have them print all of your pre-ordered tickets at once.
  • If you’re particular about where you sit, there’s no such thing as arriving too early. Expect every screening to have a long line and a full house. Still, as long as you have a ticket, you’ll have a seat. If you’re a passholder, you can usually show up about 20 minutes in advance of the screening and still get a good seat. Ticketholders, try 30 min. All bets are off in the case of movies with big buzz. In that case, take whatever seat you can get, but just sit down already. There’s not going to be some magical super-seat in the theater if you scour the entire venue.
  • If you’re a passholder this year, you have probably seen the queue cards, which gives you a place in the passholder line (it’s also a way for SIFF to figure out how many passholders they’re letting in to the venues). There has been some rumbling on the SIFF Fools list about changes in the policy for the queue cards (perhaps they’re going away), but nothing definite at this time.
  • Be prepared with umbrella and light jacket. Bringing some snacks is acceptable, but don’t be That Guy who sneaks in a four-course meal.
  • Find your path of least resistance. For example, at the Egyptian, nearly everyone enters the theater and goes to the left. So break away from the herd and go to the right.
  • Bathrooms! (Ladies, I’m mostly speaking to you, unless you’re a dude at a dude-heavy midnight screening.) It’s a good rule of thumb that the further away the bathroom is, the shorter the line. So the third floor bathrooms at the Harvard Exit are much more likely to be free compared to those on the second floor. Another way to avoid the line is to either head straight to the restroom as soon as you get into the theater, or wait until the lights go down and the SIFF ads start. You’ve still got about 7 minutes of ads, trailers, and announcements before the film begins.
  • Consider subtitles. If your film has them and you’re not fluent, find a seat with a clear view of the bottom of the screen. Aisle left or right is generally a good bet. The seats on the center aisle (exit row) at the Egyptian have tons of room to stretch your legs, but the raking (grading?) of the theater flattens out for the aisle, so you’re likely to have an obstructed view of the subtitles if anyone of average height or above average skull circumference sits in front of you.
  • If you’re on foot and trying to see multiple films in a row, the sweet spot is the Egyptian. It’s a walkable distance from two screens at the Harvard Exit, as well as Pacific Place. The Egyptian is also right next to a Walgreen’s, if you need water, snacks, or eye drops after 12 hours of movie viewing.
  • With SIFF’s recent acquisition of the Uptown theater, festgoers who usually stick around the Downtown/Capitol Hill area theaters (Pacific Place, the Egyptian, the Harvard Exit) will want to plan some extra travel time accordingly: the roster of SIFF entries playing the Uptown is just too diverse and strong to ignore. However, heading to Queen Anne leaves you reliant on Seattle’s not always timely bus service. Might we suggest the monorail? OR GONDOLAS?
  • Get your latte before you head to the Egyptian. The espresso stand is gone!