November 12, 2015

A True TIFF Love Story

guest post by nicole murphy

The following is a real-life "networking” experience that took place at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2015:

Man: “Too bad you’re not an actress. You’d be great for this female lead I am writing about teachers…”
Me: “Nope. I am a producer/director of community television in Alberta.”
Man: “Oh… So what’s it like for a female living in Alberta? Do you live on your own?”
Me: “My roommate and I share a two bedroom place.”
Man: “So you and her can bring people home and it’s fine, huh?”
Me: “Um.. He and I have a lot of space… yes.”
Man: “Oh you just broke my heart. You live with a guy?”
Me: “A friend… yes… And I actually have a meeting so I have to go...” 
I grew up not really thinking much about what it meant to be female. How that would affect my career, my love life, and my interactions on a day-to-day basis. Maybe this is because all I wanted as a child and into my early 20’s was to find a “true love”; to get married and have babies… Yeah. So that was a thing. This was the first and strikingly obvious sign that my life was strongly influenced by all the Disney movies I’d grown up watching. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to find a partner and to build a life and family together. I have great admiration for people who are able to parent and parent well. But the problem wasn’t relationships or my ideas of them. It was this insatiable need to find my “true love” so that I could, simply, define my self-worth.

Now… As an aspiring filmmaker… Navigating the world of media, events, festivals, and networking conversations like the one above, I am learning my self-worth is not based on having a loving partner or a big family. It’s based on how attractive I am. Right? So that’s better. Jokes aside, my inaugural year at TIFF was an amazing experience. Being put in situations that bring us out of our comfort zone has a way of encouraging growth and showing us what is truly important. And it’s not how attractive I am.

The following is an account of a love story that unfolded during my time at TIFF. No, Ryan Gosling didn’t take my virginity. Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t save me from jumping off a large ship, and then paint me as one of his French girls. Brad Pitt and I didn’t wreck a house having sex, either. In fact, it is not about a man at all, and it is not sexual. This is a love story of friendship.

Upon first arrival, the city’s and the festival’s crazy, hectic vibe is apparent. King Street is closed for pedestrian traffic. People wander the streets in search of celebrities. Thousands of media delegates flood into designated areas for check-in. The range of festival fashion stretches from all business to hipster chic, to Derelicte (a Zoolander reference). The massive booklets given out, schedules, and booths of distribution companies from all around the world… All of this to make sure us first-timers realize how much we truly don't know.

Overwhelmed when faced with the raw truth of my ignorance, I scanned the room in search of a friendly eye. Andrea was her name, from Toronto, and she had been to TIFF before. My knight in shining armour was a sassy redhead and I was okay with that.  She gave me tons of advice on how to take in the festival and showed me where to go.

Networking is very important. It’s the key to this festival and all others. Being a smiling face that is approachable and not acting afraid to approach others is important. However I was told once, with great authority, from a successful filmmaker no less, that good networking is like a romance. At first, I didn’t quite understand this but TIFF did due diligence to clarify this for me.

Andrea and I became fast friends. She is honest, funny and undeniably herself. A fierce female with a passion for storytelling, I just loved to be around her. I felt I could truly be myself, and that our creative chemistry was special.


  • Standing in line for movies, as the volunteer line guy yelled at people to stay by the wall. It made us laugh.
  • Talking to a guy that wanted to “fund Canadian films,” as he joked about making porn. I slowly backed away, as he was seriously entering my personal space… Andrea was there to be an extra set of eyes on the situation, and we later joked about how gross this whole exchange was.
  • Watching Beasts of No Nation — a Netflix original movie about a child soldier in Africa. Andrea and didn’t speak for awhile after that, but it was nice to have her there.
  • Cornflake & Banana Chocolate Ice Cream, at Greg’s Ice Cream. 
  • Blue Jays Game (not TIFF related but SO fun)! We’re in Toronto, after all.
  • Seeing a live Skype interview with Bill Hader and the creators of Documentary Now! A new mockumentary series that redoes documentaries… Look it up; it’s pure hilarity. See the free vinyl record below from the “classic” rock band Blue Jean Committee.
  • Meeting Mr. P … that is all I will say about that.
  • Live music at Studio 835. Just amazingly talented people at work.
  • When I had to regurgitate a piece of seafood that I was choking on in the middle of a restaurant… HAHAH. Oh my, that was funny. No picture evidence of this. Probably for the better. Trust me.

When dating, you choose the person you like and invest time in them. Often, if you are seeing a bunch of people, it is because you haven't found that chemistry. I was just lucky to find my one true TIFF love on day one. We spent almost two beautiful weeks together and have now decided to go for a long distance friendship.

We hear it a million times in our lives - ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE - but when you grow up thinking a “love story” is when Prince Eric lets you live in his castle after you leave your entire family, even though on most of your dates you didn’t talk at all! … it gets kind of confusing. I mean, let’s get serious here. Taking into account Ariel’s talents and passions, it seems a real “happy ending” would be the grand opening of her first antique shop, or the release party of her first album, WITH Eric there supporting her.

My TIFF love story was not what I expected, but it surpassed my expectations. I learned that one great connection is better than a bunch of shallow ones. And if you get to experience a life full of these sorts of connections, for me, that is success.

Nicole Murphy Is Awesome

Those who love her would say she is driven, intelligent, and funny, others would say she is a bossy know-it-all that laughs at her own jokes. Either way she get’s shit done. A proud NAIT Television graduate, Nicole Murphy is currently working on a TELUS TV/ web series entitled People We Love, which highlights individuals that are helping in their community, have an inspirational story or are overall unique in some way. Her future goals include being a nicer human and creatively telling stories that increase empathy, show love, encourage courage, promote kindness, display truth, and/or make people laugh their f****ing faces off. 


  1. What I love most is that this is a story of authentic connection. True love spirit is strong and our passions surpass all the other B.S. That's what you really need to survive in the film industry.


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