The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world; attracting thousands of attendees every year and hosting special screenings and events with prolific filmmakers and on-screen stars. Adam Schoales is a Video Producer at TIFF, responsible for post-production and original digital content production for the show.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Adam about his experiences working behind-the-scenes on a large production such as TIFF, the demands on post-production during a live event, the shift from on-site to remote editing, and a few sidebars on film.
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What’s one aspect of your job people might not know?
One of the things that people don’t necessarily know about TIFF is that we are we are actually a year round organization, we don’t just exist during that 10 days in September. We have an online platform where you can rent movies and watch them online. It’s not just about the festival, it’s about all this other stuff that we do, all the initiatives that we support, like our Share Her Journey campaign, or our For the Love of Film Fund or the various other charitable aspects that we’re doing.
What are your responsibilities during the event itself?
I’m responsible for handling the closing night wrap up trailer. So, at the closing night film, we show a trailer—essentially a highlight reel of the past 10 days. Once the team finishes filming for the day, at all the different venues, all the different Q and A’s—all that footage comes in. I come in the morning and I take that material, probably close to six hours every day worth of material, and then based on the priorities of the programming team and the various other teams, I start going through and seeing what I can find and what’s going to work.
Along the way, I’m also doing deliverables to the social team, because they want to have little highlights from the day before. We also have talent coming through the building doing interviews. Sometimes, I’m helping out with the shooting of that or actually conducting the interviews.
Because of the way we have to deliver everything, you actually have to deliver the cut a few days in advance of the night because a DCP needs to be made and sent out to all the venues. So it’s not actually a 10-day timeline, it’s really more like a five-day timeline.
Those 10 days are jam packed, and they are exhausting. And you need a lot of takeout and drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, but it’s so worth it in the end.
As an editor, how do you prepare for the large influx of videos coming your way come event time?
I use Final Cut Pro because it It allows me to ingest the footage a lot quicker. The way it allows me to organize is a little bit different from other software. I’m basically doing all my front loading in advance. I’m going through all the material and highlighting what I like and delegating between sound-ups and visuals that I like. I basically do that for four or five days.
It’s a lot of organization and sifting upfront. That isn’t very exciting. And it’s kind of tedious. But it means that I can work and get an actual edit out the door in so much less time.
You are an editor who also gets to be on-set. How does this benefit your post work?
I think it’s all about time. So often now, timelines have gotten shorter and shorter, especially for post. When I’m on set, I’m able to take notes and make sure those notes are up to date and accurate. I can literally start cutting the second we wrap.
When I’m not on set, there’s usually a day, at least, of time spent going back through the material, labeling and organizing, and all that stuff.
What’s it like being in a room and interviewing prolific filmmakers?
I have been very lucky in that I’ve gotten to interview or be in the room for interviews with what, for lack of a better term you would refer to as a ‘celebrity’. But then I’ve also got to be in a room with someone that maybe isn’t a household name, but someone that I, as a filmmaker, respect immensely, and I find that way more nerve-wracking.
For example, being in the room with Alex Gibney, a professional documentary filmmaker; his job is to ask questions. And now I’m going to be in this room and ask him questions for 30 minutes. I was terrified because this guy asks questions for a living. I do not want to do a bad job!
What were some of the challenges you faced when TIFF went fully remote in 2020?
It was a huge shift. So many people were involved. We weren’t necessarily the first of the big festivals to go digital, but I think based on the timeline of everything, we might have been among the first. It was very much a learning experience. There was no template to follow. We didn’t have other festivals that we could get in touch with and ask “what did you guys do?” We just had to figure it all out.
What is it like to collaborate and produce videos from a remote environment?
We already had some infrastructure so that we could work remotely, but it was still figuring out the best way to do that. In terms of revisions, that’s pretty straightforward. We always uploaded our stuff to Frame.io and sent links out to the various people in the organization. So we’re used to that.
We also took advantage of Postlab. We were editing these reels for the TIFF tribute ceremony and there was so much material to go through. I couldn’t go through it all myself. We had an assistant editor. Basically, he had his project at his place. He would check the project out using Postlab, do his work, check it back and say what the notes were. Then I could pull it down myself. It basically allowed us to collaborate on a project without having to worry about zipping files and sending them via email like this. Everything was consolidated in that workflow.
Which film are you most looking forward to in 2021?
No Time to Die, the new James Bond movie.
*Highlights have been edited for length and clarity.
The Toronto International Film Festival will run from September 9–18, 2021, with a hybrid, virtual and in-person slate of programming. We here at MASV wish Adam and the entire TIFF team a smooth launch!
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Recommended Reading: What to Consider When Managing Submissions for Your Film Festival
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