Why Film is a Cheaper Hobby Than Most Would Think…

I was discussing hobbies with a friend awhile back, and how as a culture consumer (that being, somebody who avidly hungers and enjoys and attends film, theatre, music and other activities) that it can get quite expensive and just as ‘up there’ in pricing as other enthusiasts of cars, fashion, outdoors (equipment is expensive!) and other activities. But when I really thought about it, I don’t spend that much on film at all. Toronto is blessed with a huge appetite for cinema and we have an absurd number of festivals and rep cinemas which means they are all competing for our cash and attendence, and while all festivals offer discounted packages and have benefits for seniors and students, I’m going to speak more about the other ways to see cinema on the cheap, ways that are tried, tested and true!

Click for more frugal filmic tips revealed!

In terms of rep cinemas, the handful that I attend on a monthly basis would be the Toronto Underground, the Royal Cinema, the Revue and the Bloor. The beauty of the rep cinemas is the ‘added benefits’ you receive as a member. Take The Revue for example, your first visit costs $13, a regular fee at a first run cineplex really, but includes a membership which means each subsequent film you attend for 6 months is $7, already less than a combo at McDonalds or a pint of beer. The Bloor has similar membership benefits as well, while places like the Underground Cinema offer a mostly flat-rate of $8 per film with specials for buying double bills. Also keep an eye out for free screenings or promotions through the theatre, whether filling out surveys or following their website or entering contests. I’ve won several pairs of tickets and packages over the past year alone just by being active in the community of a rep cinema. Also? They have great parties.

For more mainstream cinema, Toronto is a major city for sneak previews, and the ways these have been promoted have definitely evolved over the years. It used to be a sincerely secret society, I remember when passes were golden tickets and it was hard to figure out how to get a pass and from whom and everybody just had a few friends who knew the right people and would go to everything before anybody else. Now this has become a more equal playing field as facebook and twitter especially have created a whole new way of companies and groups to reach out to fans with these passes. Also, entering the contests via eye weekly and now magazine don’t hurt either, I win an average of 4 or more passes a year through those two magazines alone. Other great resources are email newsletters from festivals such as ReelAsian or TIFF as they often have associations with groups and screenings through the year. My favourite twitterers for tickets? @TO_Underground !

Free film screenings also happen on a weekly basis in Toronto, my favourite group who runs these also happens to be one I was involved with for years, the Cinema Studies Student Union or CINSSU. While they only run actively during the school year, they occasionally have films or previews in the summer and have access to an amazing assortment of cinema. My favourite screening there this year was a gorgeous print of La Belle et la Bete, the Cocteau masterpiece.

Another option for the real hard-core is to join up with a web daily or another venture, I currently write for (and have in the past) for blogTO which offers opportunities to see sneak previews and screeners of festival films and other movies occuring in the city. But that does require a little more work than scouring the weeklies, it actually requires a touch of singing for your supper.

So really, for a little bit of hard work every week (most of which can be done online these days instead of messing around on facebook) a whole world of cinema is available and for muuuch less than cost.

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