© Photo by The Flash List
The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas; and during the Dallas International Film Festival, you can gaze at quite a few of them ... as well as participate in interactive movie discussions and filmmaker meet and greets! The festival showcases cinematic industry talent from not only the state of Texas but from all around the world, and becoming involved in all the 'action' is a snap. Although the festival as a whole may have certain theme threads that run throughout the course of the event, you can tailor your experience to whatever type of activity, location, or movie genre that suits you.
First, look over DIFF's comprehensive guide to the films that will be shown, view any promotional trailers available, and make a list of the movies that interest you. Choices can range from full-length features to animated shorts, documentaries, world cinema, films made in Texas, romantic comedies, family-friendly selections, and so much more. Maybe you'd like to pick motion pictures featuring your favorite big-name actors, or maybe you'd like to see movies about travel or movies about music, or maybe you'd just like to see films at the participating theater nearest you. The combinations are endless!
If the list of movies that you'd like to see becomes too long to be contained on a 'mental note' (which can happen very quickly), then you might consider creating a chart of your top picks along with their showtimes and theater locations. This way, you can factor in other personal commitments and/or schedule conflicts as well. Most films are only shown a couple of times; so if you have a large number of options on your list, then fitting the puzzle pieces together may take some finessing.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get from one screening to the next, and consider whether you'll want to be running from one theater to another and back again. DIFF does have a few moving parts (creative teams and celebrities do travel in from various parts of the globe), thus appearances and/or new films may be added or moved around a bit; so be sure to recheck DIFF's website periodically for any minor schedule adjustments. Subscribing to their email newsletter will also give you access to breaking news and current updates.
The Best Ticket Option
After you've established a general game plan, you'll need to choose the ticketing option that works best for you.
Tickets: If you have a small number of film selections, it is best to simply handle that by purchasing individual tickets (just like buying a ticket at any local theater). You must be in your seat though at least 15 minutes before the start time or you risk losing your spot to someone else who is waiting in line. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, by phone, in person at the main box office, or at theaters on the day of your screening; but know that all sales are final and ticket holders must wait for all pass holders (see below) to be seated first.
Vouchers: If you're a little more of the 'fly by the seat of your pants' type, or aren't sure exactly which movies you want to see, or just want to spend an entire day at the theater taking life as it comes, vouchers make up the most economical option available. Good for any regular festival screening at any time and available only in packs of 10, a voucher costs less than a ticket or a pass. There's a bit of a risk though. Pass holders are allowed into the theater first, then ticket holders, and lastly the people in what's called the Rush Line who exchange vouchers or cash for admission. If the movie you want to see fills up before you get in, you may use your voucher for admission to another screening.
Passes: A Festival Pass gives you priority seating at all regular film screenings and panel discussions. The all-access Star Pass typically includes one invitation to the Opening Night Screening and Gala (subject to availability), access for one person to the Festival Lounge (21+ only) where you can meet and mix with filmmakers, admission for one to all regular film screenings, panel discussions, Centerpiece screenings, and parties during the festival, along with one nifty DIFF swag bag.
Miles for Film: You can even exchange your airline miles for festival access as part of the Dallas Film Society's Miles for Film program which books travel for incoming filmmakers.
Now You're Ready to Fest!
All right, grab some popcorn (or candy) and a soda (or a martini), settle into a comfy seat, get ready for the lights to dim, and expect to have a wonderful time watching the movies of your choice. And be assured that enjoying films is not by far the only thing to do while you're at the Dallas International Film Festival.
In what has become a tradition, DIFF hosts a variety of family activities (for a time to celebrate, educate, and entertain film goers young and young at heart) as well as moderated interviews (with professionals such as actors and movie industry executives) along with Talk/Show (a free series of panel discussions conducted by notable filmmakers and industry experts on topics such as producing, screenwriting, cinematic influence) and more.
Dallas International Film Festival
The focus of DIFF is to recognize, promote, and support contemporary independent films and the creative teams behind the increasingly accessible art form.
How to Spot (and Meet) Actors and Filmmakers
You see them on the red carpet. But unless you have tickets to the opening night gala or you're a member of the press, then how can you visit personally with Hollywood's up and coming movers and shakers? It's not as hard as you might think. Of course, you can purchase an all-access Star Pass and hobnob to your heart's content, or upgrade your pass option to include access to the Festival Lounge (where many hang out); but that's not absolutely necessary. Very often, these guys and gals are just milling about before and after the screenings of the shows with which they're affiliated.
And think about it ... their main purpose for being at the festival is to promote their upcoming projects. So for the most part, they want to talk with you. So how do you know who they are? And how do you find them?
First of all, like we mentioned, subscribe to DIFF's newsletter. During the festival, you will receive updates with the exact names and titles of those scheduled to arrive on the red carpet before making their way into the theater. You may also wish to attend screenings which offer Q&A sessions afterward where writers, directors, producers, actors, and/or others take questions from the audience (and some even hang around in the theater after that for one-on-one discussions). So check the individual movie websites for the names of people involved, maybe perform an online image search to get an idea of who you're looking for, and then have your questions, recording device, and/or camera ready.
Here's what we learned as well about spotting those on 'the inside.' Generally, when you see the average theatergoers, they're sort of quiet, leisurely, watching their step or looking for a seat, hands full of popcorn and such. Not so with these sometimes-crazy film people. Their movie is screening in a festival and they are typically excited. They'll be all smiley and standing around in the lobby or near the aisles in a somewhat expectant manner. And their friends will be the ones clapping and 'wooping' the loudest during the credits. So take note of them and inquire about an introduction afterward; that's a pretty good starting point.
If all else fails, you can always ask a helpful on-site DIFF worker if they happen to know who's who.
Make new friends and earn free movie tickets to the festival by becoming a volunteer in a position such as photographer (or name taking assistant), videographer, greeter, check in attendant, box office manager, gift bag assembler, phone receptionist, gatekeeper security ... we've even once seen light-saber-bearing flash-mob dancers on the list!
So get ready to interact with filmmakers, take some pictures, make videos, and create your own memorable movie experiences at Dallas International Film Festival!
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