I really do love planning things – however thanks to this blog series I was forced to not procrastinate by waiting until the morning of my TIFF package selection window to make my picks.

As a member of the film festival for over a decade I take the week off every year and see between 20 – 30 films. Over that time the process of selecting, submitting and seeing the films has moved from being a paper-based activity where you would make your selections and not know until a few days before the start of the festival whether you got your top picks or not, often resulting in a scramble to make other selections

In 2010 or thereabouts TIFF moved the process to make selections online. You were still not guaranteed you would get your first picks, and there was still a lottery process to determine how early you had a chance to make your selections. The first version of the TIFF site did not always perform as expected under the heavy load and it was often necessary to have multiple versions of your selections saved and ready to go in case the search by film options was not responding and you needed to either just scroll through the full list by date or – even worse – run down to the box office and line up to get your order placed in person.

In the last few years the ticket purchase process has been managed through a partner site with Ticketmaster, so the site performance is less mercurial. But you still need to have your full list ready for your selection window as the process is timed and you have 1 hour from login to make all the selections for any of your pre-festival ticket packages.

Now that the full schedule is available I have more data points that I need to include – most important among those are where the film is showing and when. I enlisted the help of another Blended Perspectives Consultant, Cathy Rivard, and we looked at the full set of attributes and defined the custom fields that I would need for my list.

We configured the fields based on the type of data or default values, so I could use the long list I exported from the TIFF.net site to create the issues for my final selections.

I then used the Jira importer to create the issues – after slightly modifying the field order and visibility.

As a member, I get to select my films before the public. However while membership has its advantages there are different levels. The majority of the membership levels still require you to  place your order online or in person at the festival box office. On the day you order there is a chance due to load the site may or may not always respond as expected when searching, so I like to have a spreadsheet ready so I can filter my selections by date – ascending or by film title.

I can search using the basic option in Jira or JQL if I want to get fancy, but really my main objective is to generate a list that I can export and have at hand to make the order entry process as stress free as possible.

For the export I used the Better Excel add-on and selected to have only the visible fields from my search result included in the output file.

Now I have everything I need to place my order – but to finish off I added a dashboard gadget to show my distribution of film selections across the different programs. It is always interesting to see the distribution of films – I try to keep the number of Special Presentations at 50% or less – it’s the largest program, but it also includes films that I will likely have a chance to see at a later date as many already have North American distribution and/or a release date.

Well that’s it until I submit my selections this weekend – wish me luck!

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