TCM Film Fest 2017: By the Numbers

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Well, I didn’t have very far to go, but it seems that I’m back in the real world after the dazzling glory of this year’s TCM Film Festival. While a definite sense of sadness marked this year’s fest following Robert Osborne’s passing, ultimately I think the festival—and all the films, discussions, and friendships it contains—ended up being a great tribute to him. May we all toast a Ketel One in his honor.

This year was a little different for me. The past two years I’ve served as a Social Media Producer, a semi-official capacity where a group of lovely and talented folks (+ me) each proposed and worked on a specific social media project throughout the festival. My first year I escorted a Robert Osborne bobblehead, and last year I carried around a whiteboard for some doodles. But perhaps more importantly to the festgoers at large, we were also often the people who distributed pins and/or ribbons! 

While I did miss the morning meetings and breakfasts that had been part of that program, it was also nice to a) not have to carry around my props and giveaway goodies the whole time and b) be able to get a little more freeform in my postings, and change things up as needed. It also relieved some of the pressure of feeling like I needed to represent the festival to some extent through my tweets. To be fair, I didn’t really get to test the limits of my newly available off-color sensibilities this year, as I didn’t go to, ahem, Cock of the Air, but hopefully something next year provides similarly ample material.

Generally, my strategy varied from block to block, but I tried, as I usually do, to favor new films and unique experiences, while also taking things like location into account. I did a few back-to-backs at the Egyptian, for instance, which was definitely preferable to running up and down Hollywood Blvd multiple times in a day.

Overall this year felt like it went very smoothly, which I can’t entirely credit to my own pre-planning, as TCM’s scheduling was totally on point this year. Moving the pre-Codes and other discoveries to the Egyptian, rather than tiny Theater 4, meant that there was plenty of space for people. In fact there were no instances where I waited for a film and didn’t get in, and I never had to skip a screening block in order to wait for another film.

One interesting drawback to this tight planning was that it didn’t seem like there was as much “buzz” on certain films as previous years. The festival didn’t seem to be defined by a single film in the way that something like, say, Double Harness came to characterize that year’s struggles. Since people seemed to mostly get into what they wanted to get into, there wasn’t one “must-see” film that would give folks automatic bragging rights should they make it in. Overall I definitely definitely definitely think that was obviously a good and clever change—more people seeing more movies is always better—but it was an interesting shift in the traditional fest culture, and I wonder how it might affect people’s perceptions of the festival.

By the Numbers

Decades

My festival was fairly light—I “only” saw 13 films over the four days. It was evenly spread across a wide range of years, accounting for at least one film in every decade between 1920 to 1990:

1920s: 1

1930s: 3

1940s: 2

1950s: 2

1960s: 1

1970s: 2

1980s: 1

1990s: 1

 

Formats

Format wasn’t generally my main deciding factor in selecting screenings, except that I knew I wanted to see at least one nitrate, and I felt I could skip a few of the bigger DCPs, where I knew I’d seen the exact same copy at previous screenings in town.

The majority (7) of my films were DCP, though that did include several world-premiere restorations, such as Those Redheads from Seattle and Saturday Night Fever. Four more were 35mm, and the remaining 2 were the nitrate screenings.

Theaters

As I mentioned, the venue assignments seemed to work really well this year. I spent quite a bit of time at the Egyptian especially. And to my great surprise, I went to NO screenings in the hallowed Theater 4 this year.

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX: 2

Egyptian: 6

Chinese Multiplex House 1: 3

Chinese Multiplex House 4: 0 (!!!)

Chinese Multiplex House 6: 2

At two of the House 1 screenings, I got there early enough to score coveted, roomy D-Box seats. Because when I’m on Day 3 of this movie watching marathon, I’m definitely going to need both armrests.

More Numbers

Lowest queue number: 6 (Postcards from the Edge)

Highest queue number: 245 (The Awful Truth)

Cary Grant impressions in films or pre-movie interviews: 4

Price for a warm can of coke and bag of pretzels at the Egyptian: $7

Times I paid $7 for a warm can of coke and bag of pretzels: Once and never again

Point at which I figured out who the stooge was in Stalag 17: 45 minutes in

Point at which I figured out I had already seen Stalag 17: 46 minutes in

Feelings I had at Carrie Fisher-scripted Postcards from the Edge: At least 4

Times I’ve listened to More Than a Woman since Saturday night: [undisclosed]

More detailed daily recaps of the festival will be coming over the next week or so!

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2 Responses

  1. Chris Sturhann
    | Reply

    So you skipped breakfast last year, that’s why I hardly ever saw you. Though the demise of the Social Producers thing this year was kind of a drag, the upside was that I felt like I spent more time talking to people online and less time looking at my phone. That is definitely a good thing. I actually laughed out loud (hate the term, LOL) at the thing about:

    Point at which I figured out who the stooge was in Stalag 17: 45 minutes in

    Point at which I figured out I had already seen Stalag 17: 46 minutes in

    Great post.

    • thevintagecameo
      | Reply

      I think I made it to a couple last year, but I was definitely more darting in and out than having our nice, lingering (if very early!) breakfasts the previous year! But yeah, I definitely feel like I interacted with “real” people more, though at the same I think I tweeted nearly as much—because I wasn’t overthinking it :)

      Ha, I literally thought “Oh, this is kind of similar to that other movie… with… exactly the same… plot and characters and… oh I see. I see.”

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