Richard: It helps if you strongly resemble someone famous. A few years ago a Bono look-a-like talked his way into screenings and parties and it wasn’t until much later that everyone realized he was an imposter. If you are not genetically blessed enough to look like Brad Pitt, however, you have to plan in advance and be prepared to stand in lines.
Q: So then what should we wear to the premiere (men and women)?
Richard: For men, a tuxedo. What, were you raised in a barn or something? For women, go on-line and see what Lindsay Lohan is wearing, then dress completely the opposite.
Q: What sort of persona should one adopt to make one self appear cooler and far wittier than they actually are?
Richard: Mine. It’s worked very well for me for years. Actually, I’ve always found that NOT adopting a persona works the best. Be yourself and don’t try too hard to impress and you’ll be fine. If that doesn’t work talk in film critic speak to get noticed. Say things like “Daybreakers is a meditation on violence,” and pepper your speech with words like “trope” and “zeitgeist.” You’ll fit in with the babbling festival party crowd. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what you’re saying, everyone will be too tired to notice.
Q: What are three things one must bring to the premiere?
Richard: A good attitude, a willingness to be swept away by the movie and, on a less ephemeral note, a snack. These things never start on time and there is nothing worse than watching a movie on an empty stomach.
Three things NOT to bring: a cell phone (unless you promise to turn it off before the movie stars), a snack wrapped in crinkly paper and a bad attitude.
Q: What do you say to the stars if their movie is horrible?
Richard: Most people know when they’ve made a bad movie and don’t need to hear it from you at the after party when trying to enjoy their Apple Martini. If you must say anything refer to my comments above and fall into meaningless movie-speak. Label the film a “tone poem” or tell them it was “quirky but inspiring” or use any of the following in any way that seems appropriate at the time: avant-garde, unconventional, innovational or causative. You’ll have kept the conversation going without offending anyone or actually saying anything worth repeating. Perfect for the party circuit.
Q: What’s the most indelible TIFF premiere memory you have?
Richard: There have been many. Falling asleep while sitting next to a very famous director during a screening of his film rates way up there. (I’m not saying who it was, but I was tired after seeing four other films that day and he was fine with it.) I think the most indelible memory I have from the TIFF premiers I’ve attended has to do with someone who is not a household name, but made a huge impression on me.
His name is Paul Rusesabagina and he was the real life inspiration for the movie Hotel Rwanda. I was tired and grumpy after a long festival stint of watching movies and doing interviews and a bit jaded by the whole affair but his uplifting attitude, particularly in light of everything he had been through in his life, wiped away all the world-weariness I was feeling. Chatting with him and watching him interact with others made me glad to be part of TIFF that year.