Getting the Invite to Midnight Madness

I know what it is like to anticipate attending Midnight Madness as film lover and I was wondering what it was like as a filmmaker to get the call that your film was going to be invited to Midnight Madness, so I decided to ask a couple of Midnight Madness alumni for their reflections and advice to the filmmakers having a premiere this year. I recently spoke with Trent Haaga TH (screenwriter for Deadgirl) & Noah Segan NS (lead actor from Deadgirl)

1.) What was your initial reaction to the news that your film was being invited to the Toronto International Film Festival?

TH Disbelief. I love the film and the script was very special to me, but I had been told for so long that no one would ever make or watch the movie that I had begun to believe it. Getting into Midnight Madness at the TIFF was, quite simply, unbelievable at the time. TIFF is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world and they're premiering one of MY movies? The guy who wrote THE TOXIC AVENGER PART 4? Really?

NS When I heard that Deadgirl had gotten into TIFF, I immediately called my Parole Officer and Rabbi (They're actually the same guy. Hollywood. Go figure.) for permission to attend! In all seriousness (or a little seriousness), I was nervously excited that a screwy little movie like ours had gotten the attention of such a prestigious festival.

2.) Could you share some of your memories of being at the festival in 2008.

TH My wife (and also the film's costume designer) and I decided to take a walk to the end of the line for the first screening of Deadgirl, we walked around one city block, then another, then another before we found the end of the line and every time we turned a corner I was shocked and amazed to see how many people were queued up to see the premiere ... we ended up selling out the Ryerson, which was amazing. It was also our first trip to Toronto, which is a great city.

NS TIFF was a whirlwind. I remember a couple really, really good buffets for us movie-folks. And a few protestors outside our theatre at midnight. Colin seemed just as surprised as we were to be a part of something so wild, just as much of a kid in a candy store. The best part was having an audience that "engaged" the movie. They didn't have any kind of snobbery. They laughed and screamed and joked and snarked and made it a party. That's my kind of scene. So in a way, it felt like I was just hanging out with pals.

3.) How has having your film premiere at tiff changed your life?

TH Premiering at the TIFF was definitely one of the pinnacles of my career thus far and it made Deadgirl the most successful film I've been involved with, both critically and financially. The film may have found its place over a longer period of time outside of TIFF, perhaps, but being discovered at the TIFF was the greatest exposure the film could have asked for.

NS Deadgirl went from a no-budget flick on the fringe to a hipster indie-darling thanks to TIFF Not only did the festival legitimize the movie, but having it in the scope of Colin's program made it appropriate. It's probably the first and last time I'll ever be "legitimately appropriate". How ironic that it's for a flick where I play a sociopathic rapist? I knew about Midnight Madness and how cutting-edge it is for a program, but I also knew that movie distributors really pay attention to the T.I.F.F. program, and that it could help lots of folks see our flick. It did.

4.) What advice would you offer filmmakers that are about to experience the world premiere of their films this year?

TH Enjoy it! Life isn't like a movie. It's not chock full of defining moments ... having a film premiere at TIFF during the Midnight Madness is one of those defining moments that you see in the movies. Well, it was for me, anyway ...

NS Get some sleep, you'll need it. Also, people in Canada really are as nice as they seem. It's not a scheme. Just roll with it.

5.) What projects are you currently working on?

TH I wrote a film called Fetch (www.themoviefetch.com) that is premiering in September, I've just completed my directorial debut, Chop (www.chopthemovie.com), and I turned in a screenplay for Deadgirl 2 a few months back ... Also working on the most important projects of all, sons Maximillian (8 years) and Bronson (8 weeks) ...

NS I need a killer gig so I can come back to TIFF!

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