Midnight Madness Memories: MM Photographer Ian Goring's Midnight Madness Problem

We see a lot of Ian Goring's photographs on the MM Blog, but we don't hear much from him, what with all the photography he does. So this year Colin asked Ian to share some of his memories of Midnight Madness ~ The Editor.

My name is Ian and I have a Midnight Madness problem. 

First year attended : 2004 
First Midnight Madness film: Saw 
Hooked ever since... 

For me Midnight Madness not just about the films, or the big stars--it's always been about the experience it's about the atmosphere and the excitement that you just can't get anywhere else. I started attending the film festival back in 2004 when my brother was in film school and he had to attend a few screenings at the festival for one of his courses. My father and I decided to tag along. I saw a few other films at the festival during the day, but the one that really caught my attention was a film called Saw. I had heard some buzz going around about it and the idea of a Midnight screening sounded like fun. 

Seeing a line up around the block was a bit intimidating at first, but after getting our spot in line it was really cool to talk with other like-minded fans, hear about what films they had seen and what had brought them to the festival. They came from all walks of life, students, cashiers, doctors, dentists, lawyers.... some were long-time fans while others were attending the festival for the first time like me. Unfortunately for me, the film had sold out, so I had to stick it out in the rush line and hope there were some seats left over. I had been to a horror convention the month before and Lionsgate was just starting to promote Saw and I had been lucky enough to grab a few posters, stickers and t-shirts and so I brought them along with me in hopes of bartering my way up the line and improve my chances of getting in. 

After some schmoozing and most of my posters and shirts had been traded off, I had worked my way up to around 5th in line. I found out the people in front of us had volunteer vouchers which could be used as a ticket if rush seats become available. Another volunteer came by and gave us some extra vouchers as well which was pretty cool, but I still didn't have an actual ticket.

Time continued to tick away. At 30 minutes to midnight and I still had my fingers crossed. Then another film-goer came along with 2 tickets to sell. My dad and brother quickly scooped then up and headed off to join the ticket holders line. I waited, hoping I will still be able to get in and find them in the theatre. Then someone came along the line and said they had an extra ticket, I quickly grabbed my wallet and started to get some money out to buy it. They waved it off, "Don't worry about it, you can have it for free, it's late tonight and I just want to make sure someone gets to use it." 

This person had made my night. I finally had a ticket in hand! I thanked them a few times over, took the volunteer vouchers out of my pocket I had been given earlier and gave them to the other people behind me in line so they could use them and headed off to join the rest of the ticket holders. Line Karma comes around, so don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with the people around you, you never know who you might meet. 

After a short while we were let into the theatre and as the seats began to fill up, beach balls were inflated and floated across the seats while everyone waited for the film to start while the audience started to chant "Colin, Colin, Colin!" I couldn't believe it, what had I gotten myself into? Then Midnight Madness programmer Colin stepped on stage and the crowd erupted in applause. They were chomping at the bit for the film to start and started hooting and hollering while Colin got the crowd going (and don't forget the pirate "Arrrgghhh's" when the No piracy warning came up on screen which has since infected all other screenings throughout the festival). The film hadn't even started yet and I knew this was going to be something special. If the Ryerson had had seat belts, I would have buckled myself in. 

During the screening, the crowd was loving it, jumping at all the scares, laughing, yelling out "oohhh no, don't go in there." I had never seen a film with so much audience interaction. I don't want to spoil the ending, but the collective gasp that came at the film's climax was incredible. I still get goosebumps when I think about it and it reminds me of what an incredible night that was. After the first year I was hooked. I had never had a viewing experience like that and I wanted more. I started out just picking a few films I thought sounded interesting, but gradually saw more and more. When the festival started to offer the Midnight Madness package (one ticket to every MM screening) in 2006 I knew that was the one for me, and I never looked back. Every night was something new and exciting and often it's the lesser known films that can hold the biggest surprises. It's kind of like being one step ahead of the curve because you see the films before anyone else, but you also don't know whats around the next turn. 

There's a reason I drive up from Niagara every night to attend the festival, then drive home after the screening, getting home at 3:30-4am, then go work my day job in the morning, and then drive back to the city to do it all over again for 10 days straight and have been doing so for the last 7 years. Every night is something new and exciting and it's very addicting.

Over the years I've gotten to see a number of my childhood heroes like George Romero, Dario Argento, Rob Zombie, Stuart Gordon and Eduardo Sanchez, but it's also been great to see a lot of up and coming directors really make a name for them self like James Wan, Eli Roth, Alex Aja, Simon Barret, Adam Wingard and Gareth Evans. Seeing a red carpet where the star arrives being pulled in and old fashioned cart by women and donkeys (Borat), or real live sheep are dressed up in bow ties and tiaras for a film about killer sheep (Black Sheep) to a full fledged Zombie take over of the red carpet where the undead attack director George Romero (Diary of the Dead), or a 12 person human pyramid and a director doing cartwheels onto the stage (ABC's of Death)--they don't call it Midnight Madness for nothing.

One of the other great things about Midnight Madness is the unexpected. You never know what's going to happen and when it does you just have to roll with it and have fun. A few years back when Borat premiered the projector broke about 30 minutes into the film. While the TIFF staff scrambled to fix things they decided to start the Q/A early. What followed was one of the funniest Q/A sessions ever and is the stuff of Midnight Madness legend. Colin was understandably upset, fearing a torch-bearing MM crowd asking for refunds, but everyone in the audience was having a riot seeing Borat field questions from the audience in character for well over half an hour. While the projector wasn't fixed that night and the screening had to be rescheduled, I remember getting up afterwards and hearing fans saying that was better than seeing a film. 

In past years we've also been treated to magicians performing card tricks while we waited, comedian Bobcat Goldthwaite doing a stand-up act, ambulances having to come to revive people after a screening, and even swat team uniforms worn by the stars of The Raid being thrown into the crowd. 

I have also been very fortunate because a few years back I also started taking photos at the festival just to try and capture some of the Madness for fun and soon after found myself helping out with the Midnight Madness blog, which is a collection of MM diehards who love to keep fans up to date with whats happening at the festival, giving them the inside scoop on what to see along with sharing trailers, behind the scenes photos and interviews, red carpet coverage, full Q&A sessions, and all things MM every day before, during and after the festival. It's also a great place to connect with other fans and see content you won't see anywhere else (No other blog has featured a TIFF bingo card ;)). 

created by Sasha James

I've been very lucky to be part of the Midnight Madness family and it grows every year because every Midnight Madness attendee is an important part of it. Year after year programmer Colin Geddes seems to top the previous year, and the energy and excitement seems to grow. I see people in line I met years ago and love catching up with them, and also love talking to newcomers who have heard about MM and want to see what all the excitement is about, or better yet are coming out for the first time. Midnight Madness is more than just the films, it's about the experience and energy, from meeting new friends in line, to the pre-screening beach ball matches, to the craziness on the red carpet and on-stage, to the excitement of the crowd not knowing whats coming next. Midnight Madness is about the theatre-going experience and it has to be seen to be believed.

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