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Question for Past Attendees


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Hi Everyone,



I'm a first-time attendee, and I'm really excited to go to the TCM Film Festival (it's my vacation) and purchase my tickets on Thursday!



I have a question for past attendees. I'm thinking of purchasing either the Classic or the Essential Pass. Can some of you share with me the pros and cons of purchasing either of these passes? I know the Essential Pass allows you to go to the Opening Night Red Carpet Gala Screening. I just wanted to gather some thoughts from past attendees so I can make an informed decision.



Thank you for your help and input!






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Hello TCMFan31 -


Happy to hear you're coming to Hollywood next Spring. As to you're decision...


As it is your inaugural visit and if you can afford to make the purchase without any hardship or guilt, then I would suggest opting for the Essential Pass. (It helps if you like *Funny Girl* too.)


While the "benefits" of the Essential Pass are slight compared to the Classic Pass, you do get to walk the Red Carpet (ever done that?), attend the premiere screening of the restored film with many of the Festival's Special Guests also in attendance (Who knows. You could be sitting next to Robert Wagner.) and dress up in that very special outfit you've always wanted to wear/buy. (I am assuming you don't do such things every year on your vacation.)


The Opening Night Gala is a big part of the Festival Experience. You'll find it a point of pride to say "I was there!"


Now, just to be fair, if you don't opt for the Essential Pass and choose the Classic Pass, you'll also be guaranteed a wonderful time that first night. TCM has hosted a special Poolside Screening each of the past three years for Classic Pass holders and there are other screenings at the multi-plex too. I am sure this year will be no different. Each screening also had Special Guests in attendance so you won't be missing out being in the presence of some Hollywood history with a Classic Pass.


Whichever pass you choose -- *Funny Girl* or "saving money" -- make it the one with which you most comfortable and the one you won't regret. This will also prepare you for all the other tough choices you'll have to make that weekend when you are forced to choose between attending a rare Film Screening or a "once-in-a-lifetime" Special Event like a Footprint ceremony at the Chinese Theater.


Once you've made the choice, embrace it -- believing that you're going to have the best vacation ever. Because THAT is a fact at every pass level.


Kyle In Hollywood

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Welcome to the boards and to the TCM Film Festival! You're going to have a great time whatever you decide. Kyle's advice is excellent. As a film geek, I get the Classic Pass and it works fine for me. If the red carpet event is ever one of my very favorite films, I'll probably spring for the extra bucks and get the Essential Pass.



Essential Pass holders also receive a gift bag with some mementos from the festival.



If you're going to do the Essential Pass, arrange to get into LA in plenty of time to get ready for the red carpet event Thursday night, the opening night of the festival.



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  • 2 weeks later...

:D Whatever pass you choose just certain you get one and go even if you have to walk there. You will never be sorry you did. I speak from experience.


After thinking I'd never be able to do it I went in 2011 after I fell into some money and decided to 'seize the moment" and go. The only tickets left by then were the basic classics and I missed a lot but still got my money's worth and more. I was hoping to return next year but I'm having to spend my traveling budget going back and forth to my ailing mother so it's out this time.


The higher the ticket level the more benefits you get so buy the best one you can get away with. Going on Priceline or one of the other similar booking places will save you some money and help you locate nearby hotels if you can't get into the Roosevelt. Although LAX is a bigger airport, Bob Hope at Burbank is less than ten miles away from Hollywood and easily accessable.


Believe me, your fellow movie lovers will be glad to see you and the "natives" happy to advise you on what to see and do when not watching movies. Grauman's Chinese Theater is one of the most beautiful in the world and you'll enjoy discovering how many stars are on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame"-you can walk the same blocks and keep finding someone you missed before. The shops are pleasantly reasonable so bringing home souvenirs you yourself and others is easy. Trust me, you will never forget it.

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{font:Times New Roman}OK, Janee, here’s the deal – I bought the Essentials Pass for the last three years running. It was about $100 more than the Classic Pass and I got in the habit early in the festival of doing the red carpet and Opening Night Premier in Grauman’s. I did not feel it was worth the extra $600 – now $800 dollars -- to get the Spotlight Pass. Honestly, does anyone think they’ll get meaningful “schmooze time” with the celebrities, other than to just say hello and complement them ?{font}



{font:Times New Roman}Here’s what I got with the Essentials: 2010 – Martin Landau sat behind me at the Opening Night Gala – Star Is Born; 2012, Mickey Rooney sat directly BESIDE me (not just close by, exactly beside!) and we chatted (or at least he did) throughout the entire showing of CABARET. I also liked doing the evening events, such as the opening and closing parties. For me, it was worth the extra hundred bucks. Not saying this will happen to you, but how much is sitting next to Mickey Rooney worth ? Priceless ???? {font}



{font:Times New Roman}Unfortunately, I am not doing the TCM festival this year; I am doing the cruise instead. Gonna save my extra bucks for Maureen O’Hara’s festival in Ireland this summer; maybe Telluride in the fall. {font}



{font:Times New Roman} You’ll have a blast at the TCM FF{font}



{font:Times New Roman}CinecrazyDC {font}



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Hi Janee,


I would have to agree with most that has been expressed and I'll add a bit more about the Spotlight pass too. I think that whatever pass you get, you will have a great time. Doing the red carpet and the Grauman's gala is super fun, if you like dressing up and you like the film that is being shown. You really do feel like you're going to a "Hollywood premiere". If you like that idea, I hope that you bought the Essential pass (although you will still have tons of fun anyhow).


I have bought the Spotlight pass every year and every year I am torn about the conflicting gala event vs. all of the wonderful films showing in other theatres and Poolside at the Roosevelt. The first year I left Grauman's early to catch a bit of the Betty Garrett/ Esther Williams interview and the Aqualillies performance.


For me, the Vanity Fair party has always been a complete blast but it's not for everyone. If you don't like crowds or parties, it might not be your cup of tea. I've met lots of the celebrities at the parties but I've also met a lot of them in the elevator at the Roosevelt, lobby or even on the street. I believe in being respectful of their space and TCM does sort of cordon-off an area for them at the party, which I think is great. Last year my friend and I closed the VF party, hanging out with Janie Bryant, Mad Men's costume designer. A delightful person, who does not divulge any secrets (was Betty wearing a fat suit last season?). I've also met so many of the fantastic TCM staff everywhere, including the party. It might be Lee, who is working so hard to clear the hurdles to showing films like Nightflight or Letty Lynton (fingers crossed). It might be Ben Mankiewicz, who is lots of fun to talk to (yes he is, Miss Wonderly). But I digress here.


I did gulp at the price increase for the Spotlight pass. It's worth the party and the shorter wait times but it's getting close to the max price point for me. I must say that even with this pass there is no guarantee of getting in to every film-it's still hard to get into the smaller venues. You have to wait in line, much longer for those films. On the other hand, some of the people that you meet in line are so much fun. That part can be a real pleasure.


I know you'll have a great time. TCM really does a wonderful job of creating and organizing this event. My hats are off to them every year.



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Hey Janee,


My answer is to you and anyone else regarding the TCM Film Festival. Although this years "Spotlight" passes are sold out (as always, they go the quickest even thought they are the most expensive) try to get one in the future. The advantage is that you get to avoid the lines of people at the movies and sail right by them and get a preferred seat at whatever venue you are going to. You also get a gift bag full of wonderful stuff that you can later sell (personally not me) or give away. The gift bag alone is worth several hundreds of dollars and is quite heavy. The Spotlight pass also gets one into the "Vanity Fair" magazine party. This is where one can see or meet the celebrities or Hollywood writers/dierctors/producers/others first hand without bodyguards. You can get some really nice pictures and hobknob around famous people. This might be your only chance to see them up close and relaxed. You also get a morning brunch with Robert Osbourne which is nice and he answers all of your questions and is actually a nice guy.


The next step is the "Essentials" pass. This gives one almost everything the Spotlight does EXCEPT it doesn't provide one with first come choice of seating, you get a lessor gift bag and no Robert Osbourne breakfast. It also doesn't get one into the "Vanity Fair" party. But it does get one to get into the Red Carpet event. That ALONE will make one feel like a celebrity as you get to walk the same carpet as the celebrities who are also walking up with you/behind you/before you. There is a bleacher section and as you approach, a man on a "mike" says things to you to the crowd. its all nice and quite a thrill, I must admit. Much better than sitting at the hotel watching a movie, although TCM does give one a nice alternative event though. The first year's pool party was very nice.


I can't speculate on one's wallet or finances, but I will say that if I couldn't spring for the Spotlight pass, then I would opt for the Essentials pass. Anything behind that would definitely depend on one's time and wallet.


But the bottom line is that one GOES IN THE FIRST PLACE. It is an event that one will never forget and will always come back to. I have been at every festival and can't see myself not going. It is an event by and for TRUE movie lovers. And it should be an ESSENTIAL EVENT for true movie lovers.

There is so much going on that its almost impossible to get bored and its easy to get overwhelmed with all that's happening.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 11 months later...

Passes go on sale usually in the fall prior to the Festival (usually in November).


The best thing to do is to sign up on the Festival site for email alerts. That way you will get information about the Festival as soon as everyone else.


Passes began selling out quickly once they went on sale this year so it might help to be prepared next fall to buy your Essential passes as soon as they go on sale to avoid any disappointment.

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  • 10 months later...

Sue, let me ask you a question. Just how dressy do we need to be for the red carpet events?  Is a tux neccessary or will a suit suffice? Could I get away with jeans, a dress shirt and a jacket?
My wife is planning on a evening dress or slacks suit so that's easy, but what about me?

Thanks for the advice!

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Well, rhodesisland, if you are dressing for yourself, I've seen a few men attired in jeans and a sports shirt on the TCM Film Festival Red Carpet, but if you are escorting your wife who will be wearing an evening gown, it might be advisable to wear a nice suit. A tux is only necessary if your wife thinks it is appropriate to compliement her ensemble, and you're aiming to please. :-)

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