Rave: Yogurty’s, Jamba Juice and Yogen Früz bring you contest fun

We fourth floor ladies love yummy treats as much as we love movies. We’re excited to share news about some upcoming contests from our friends at Yogurty’s, Jamba Juice and Yogen Früz. It’s never too cold for quality froyo or a smoothie. Besides, you can keep warm at the movies with these hot flicks hitting theatres in a few short weeks.

Warm Bodies 
First up is Warm Bodies, opening February 1. A funny twist on a classic love story, this zom-rom-com is a tale about the power of human connection. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human – setting off an exciting, romantic and often comical chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world. Watch the trailer here and the first few minutes of the film here.

Yogurty’s and Jamba Juice have partnered with eOne Films to offer you a chance to win a pair of tickets to a private screening in Toronto. No promises, but we hear stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer might even attend. Plus, the fourth floor is giving away an awesome prize pack valued at $105, with a Warm Bodies hoodie, T-shirt and mittens to keep you warm, plus buttons and chapstick. 

Want to win the Warm Bodies prize pack from On The Fourth Floor? Simply
tweet at @rockitpromo: Warm Bodies opens in theatres Feb. 1. I want to
win a prize pack! My fave Warm Body is ___ . And tag
@JambaJuiceCA or @Yogurtys.

You can also enter to win passes to more advance screenings and prize packs by following @Yogurtys and @JambaJuiceCA and using the hash tags #YogurtysWarmBodies or #JambaJuiceCAWarmBodies. Plus eOne Films is giving away $20 gift cards to Yogurty’s through their social media channels. Yum. 

Grand Prize – Warm Bodies
Wait – there’s more! There is a grand prize trip for two for you and your favourite warm body to a sunny destination. Second prize is a private screening for two and complete his and hers outfits from Roots Canada. Awesome, right? Just visit http://www.warmbodies.ca to enter. Contest starts January 18.

Safe Haven
Yogen Früz is working with Alliance Films to celebrate the Valentine’s Day opening of Safe Haven, starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, and based on the novel from best-selling author, Nicholas Sparks.

The one and only Nicholas Sparks. 

When a mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town, her reluctance to join the tight knit community raises questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots, and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and rely on the power of love in this deeply moving romantic thriller. Watch the trailer here. Valentine’s date night anyone?

Text to win: Enter for your chance to win a trip for two to the red carpet Hollywood premiere of Safe Haven. This contest* is up and running so just text HAVEN to 12345 (standard rates apply). 





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*For full set of rules
visit alliancefilms.com/safehaven.

So there you have it. Prizes, froyo, romantic movies and sunny vacations. What more could you ask for?

We’re Not Just Pretty: Andrea Grau

In the three short years since Andrea Grau founded Touchwood PR, she has
secured clients such as Telefilm CanadaAlliance FilmsEntertainment OnePathé
Alley Films
, Rhombus
VVS Films,
and several other independent Canadian and international producers and
filmmakers. Touchwood PR works in all areas of film and television:
distribution, production, festivals and events.

Before launching Touchwood, Grau ran the Toronto
International Film Festival communications department for eight seasons. In
this role, Grau developed and executed media strategies to position TIFF as a
leader in the industry, conducted in-depth media training for executives and
staff, and acted as ambassador for all programmed films. Additionally, she has
organized hundreds of media events including press conferences, cocktail
receptions, speaking engagements and seminars.

Prior to TIFF, Grau worked for Odeon Films, part of Alliance
Atlantis (now Alliance Films), as manager of publicity for seven years. In this
role, Grau oversaw the publicity component of all 60+ theatrical releases per

How long have you been in your current position? 
I started Touchwood PR three years ago but have been working in film publicity for 17 years.

How does your company leverage PR?

On film projects, we like to approach PR as creatively as possible. Rather than standard press releases, straight pitches and reviews, we dissect each project and pull out ideas and themes that can be pitched not just in the film section, but in music, style, life and news sections.  By approaching each project in a unique way, we are often able to garner much more interest from the press and public and give the film more wings. The first thing I ask myself when I take on a film is – ‘why and how is this film relevant right now?’ and that question generates a lot of great ideas.

You also need to know who you
are pitching and why. This requires research in a way that you can’t Google:
face-to-face interaction. Spending time lunching, talking and drinking with
journalists is not just fun, but it is the only way to truly understand what
matters to them. It is called ‘media RELATIONS’ after all. And making that
effort is half the work and the best part of the job.

From a crisis communications
perspective of the work we do, the best thing we do is react swiftly and
honestly. The whole idea of ‘messages’ is one that needs clarification. People
think PR is all spin. I disagree. All messages, no matter how well crafted,
need to come from a place of honesty. Otherwise, it’s just someone paying lip
service. And that is not good for any spokesperson or brand. We help executives
and filmmakers to be comfortable with what they are trying to express. A
well-thought out answer that you truly believe in can never come back to haunt

What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?

A PR degree is not that important to me. PR skills like writing and pitching can be learned on the job, but you can’t make a shy person into an extrovert. I myself didn’t study PR; I studied film. I just have natural people skills and an innate ability to create strong relationships that are based on respect and honesty.

Passion for the arts is key.
If you are working long hours and don’t believe in what you are doing, no paycheck
will make it less painful. A good/calm/funny personality is very important.
Someone who understands teamwork and is not above doing menial tasks in order
to get the job done. In our office, we all lick envelopes and we have fun doing
it! Also, in my eyes nothing is less
efficient than becoming aggressive and rude when the work gets stressful. I
have never encountered a problem (and I have encountered many) that could not
be fixed with common sense and a cool head. A well-timed smile also helps to
diffuse a sticky situation.

gave you your first big career break?

Producer (and now friend and
client) Sandra Cunningham. I had moved from Montreal to Toronto to intern at
TIFF in ’95 and she was programming for Perspective Canada at the time. I was
supposed to be in Toronto for 10 weeks and because she saw something in me,
here I am 17 years later. She made some great connections for me. Because of
her referral I ended up working for some amazing people who have been very good
to me along the way.

What’s your biggest
piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?

Tough and kind need not be
exclusive of one another. You can be both and often simultaneously. Treat
people with respect. One, it makes life more pleasant and two, you never know
where your intern will be 10 years from now. You might work for her/him one
day. And people might not remember what you said or did to them, but they will
always remember how you made them feel.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that on most days my
work feels like my play. I love that the people
 I work with are as passionate about what they
do as I am. I love that we laugh. A lot. This feeling translates into the
quality of work we produce and how we approach not just work, but our personal
lives as well. I love that I get to work not just with the North American film
industry but also on an international scope. Film knows no boundaries, why
should I?
 I love being entrusted with
something someone has worked on intensely for years and bringing that to the
attention of the media and public. There is no greater joy than a front page,
above the fold article on a filmmaker no one has ever heard of before.

If you weren’t doing PR, what would you do?

Social worker or psychologist.
Not too far off from what I do already. I am an information junkie and I love
connecting dots and fully understanding where people are coming from.

A little more from the fourth floor:

– I watch a movie almost every day.

I have three kids ranging
from four to 11 years. If it’s clean, pressed and hides my jiggly bits, I am happy. Once
I have paid for my kids’ educations, I will buy myself a kick-ass Chanel

Any stationary
store. I have a serious addiction to notebooks and pens. I collect them
whenever I travel.

Law Of Attraction.

Raw almonds.


A snowfall in
Paris while walking in the Montmartre cemetery, surrounded by poets and
filmmakers who have inspired millions.

June Caldwell. For a long time I had her
picture on my fridge to remind me of the kind of old woman I wanted to grow


Red wine in the
winter. Gin and tonic in the summer.

Motto in two words
Be kind.

Idea of perfect happiness
My feet in the
sand, staring out at the ocean, regardless of season; watching movies with my
kids cuddled under the blankets on a rainy day.

Chocolate covered

Celebrity crush
Guillaume Canet. Bradley Cooper speaking French is a close second.

Favourite tweeter to follow
– she’s an American film/fashion journalist living in Paris and she’s the
perfect mix of quirky and knowledgeable.

Rave: For A Good Time, Call…

With an office full of girls, it kind of goes without saying that we’ll see any girlfriend-focused comedy (see: Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, Bridesmaids, etc.). Suffice to say, when Alliance Films offered us tickets to For A Good Time, Call…, there was no hesitation. We were in! 

Directed by Toronto’s very own Jamie Travis, For A Good Time, Call… is in theatres today. Inspired by Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller’s on-screen (and real life, we hope!) friendship, we decided to put a lady twist on our typical he said/we said film reviews with a she said/she said version. Enjoy!

On Lauren Miller:

She said: “Lauren, who also contributed to the script, plays Lauren Powell. While initially I found her uptightness annoying, she really grew on me as the story progressed (which I guess is the point). And her hair? My version of perfection.” 

She said (too): “I loved her from the start. She was my favourite character – possibly because she reminded me of Allison Williams from Girls…And it’s true, she had awesome hair.”

On Ari Graynor:

She said: “Holy scene stealer, Batman! Ari plays the foul-mouthed Katie Steele and from the moment she came on-screen I found myself wishing we were real-life besties. Girl’s got some damn fine comedic timing.” 

She said (too): “From her retro-inspired ensembles to her on-screen banter with Lauren – she was a great fit for the role, but I have to say, Lauren was still my fave.”

On Justin Long:

She said: “As Katie and Lauren’s gay BFF, this role was a bit of a departure from Long’s normal repetoire, and I approve. He provided the perfect middle ground for each girl’s extreme, and you could see how each could be friends with him. True story: during the film’s Q&A the cast revealed that Long based his character’s mannerisms on the film’s director, Jamie Travis.” 

She said (too): “Two words. ‘Lion King.’ That alone made me love him (and relate to his character). You’ll have to check it out to see what I mean.” 

Dirty Talk: 

She said: “Oh my! Do not go in there expecting a PG version of phone sex. There’s a lot of licking, sucking, touching, truck backing up’ing… you get the picture. Often crude, but always hilarious, the ladies vastly expanded my vocabulary by the film’s end.”

She said (too): “It’s a film that revolves around a phone sex line, if you’re going to see it, you have to expect some profanity. I don’t think it was overdone at all – and it definitely had hilarious moments where the whole theatre was laughing.” 

(L-R) Traves, Miller, Miller’s husband Seth Rogan & screenwriter Katie Anne Naylon.

Favourite cameo:

She said: “Tough call. I’m going to have to pick Zelda, who is Lauren Miller’s real life dog! Watch for a scene with Zelda and Justin Long, ripped straight from Lion King. Hilarious.” 

She said (too): “Seth Rogan! I don’t want to give away what exactly he’s doing in his cameo…but it’s definitely a part to watch out for.”

Real-life friendship relatability:

She said: “Sex phone line aside, I could really get behind the film’s portrayal of female friendship. As someone whose had her fair share of female roommates, I completely related to alternating between loving someone to hating someone to borrowing their leopard print dress. I appreciated that neither character was forced to subordinate their love for each other for the love of man. While the plot included sexual relationships with men, the friendship between Lauren and Katie was heart of the film.” 

She said (too): “This was a perfect film to watch with a close gal pal (which I did). Good friendships can be a roller coaster of emotion with a few extra passengers along the way (read: guys) but you just can’t beat having a bestie along for the ride.”

Watch the trailer here

Toronto residents, stop into Fuzz Wax Bar (701 Queen St. W.) and fill out a ballot to win a Good Time prize pack, including free tickets to see the film! Contest is open until Tuesday, September 4. 

City Living: Best moments from TIFF 2011

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, hectic and energized times of year for the fourth floor. The film fest creates the type of atmosphere that we thrive on and despite the fact that we are pulling 18-hour days, we really do love it. We may say we’re stressed out and tired but the truth is, we’re catching a buzz from the entire experience and relishing every moment. Once the red carpets are rolled up and the celebs are on to their next destination, we are left with new experiences and great memories.
We have put together our most unforgettable moments from TIFF 2011. We want to hear your stories as well, so please tweet, comment and share with us.
Watching K’naan perform to a small crowd of about 350 people at Festival Music House, front and center, and hearing his yet-unreleased tracks performed live for the first time.
Image courtesy of JJ Thompson.
Bringing Sarah Silverman from the wrong red carpet at the Alliance party to the right red carpet. She was very cool and laid back, and took it all in stride. We got to chat with her for 10 minutes, and laughing with a comedian is the best experience.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images.

Chatting with The Sheepdogs during soundcheck, then hearing them for the first time at Festival Music House. They are now a huge fourth floor favourite, and we can’t wait to see them when they come back in November. Filmmakers – USE CANADIAN MUSIC!
 Image courtesy of Ryan Emberley.

Seeing Drizzy ride up to the Breakaway premiere in a rickshaw. Way to keep it real, Drake. 

Catching a glimpse of the very chic Tilda Swinton on our way back from the Tastemakers Lounge. Girl crush solidified.

Meeting Backstreet Boy Howie D. at the Hello! Canada party. A childhood dream long in the making. He’s just as cute in real life. 
 Our friend Tracy with Howie D.

Hitting the Strombo party late-night and turning around on the patio to find Bono and K’naan standing immediately behind us. The party was immediately amped up a notch (or five).

Everyone getting ready at the office each afternoon for the night ahead was probably the most fun. Checking out everyone’s outfits, helping with styling advice, zippers and hair – definitely some serious bonding moments, which helped us get through the long hours.  

Our office was basically everyone’s closet for two weeks.

Finally, from Debra, who quite possibly worked the most hours out of us all (and saw the most action!): 

So many favourite moments this year. Between Tastemakers, the Alliance red carpet, Harry Rosen Moth Diaries party, Festival Music House, the four films I worked on – it’s hard to pick just one! I did love being at the Soho House for the Ides of March cocktail party. It was intimate, not too busy and filled with power execs and talent like George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and more. Was one of those ‘it’s definitely TIFF’ moments. Also loved dancing my butt off to Sam Roberts at FMH. Until next year…

Rave: Beginners

Our film writer (check out past posts here) Paul Aguirre-Livingston checked out one of Alliance Films‘ latest, Beginners. Here are his thoughts on the Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer flick. Beginners opens in select theatres Friday, June 17. 

We’re giving away two copies of Mike Mills’ book Drawings From The Film Beginners. To win, answer this question: who directed Beginners? Tweet us @rockitpromo.* 
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who participated! The winners have been selected.  

Where has Ewan McGregor been? After starring in the much-hyped Angels & Demons (and the controversy-stricken I Love You, Philip Morris), it turns out McGregor was busy working on a role that may define his career and his legacy. In his latest flick Beginners, McGregor plays a character that transcends his usual genres of bland guys you like, and makes him into a man you want to be with.

Image source.

Directed and written by Mike Mills (his debut feature), Beginners is based on the true story of how his father, at 75, came out as a gay man after the death of his wife. Poignant and heartbreaking, Beginners is a cultural reflection of what it means to be gay at any age and is an exercise in parallelism, the way life turns out to be much “like father, like son.” 

Christopher Plummer (a 50-year veteran of the screen and stage) plays a perfect supporting role as the character based on Mills’ father. In fact, Plummer’s praise has extended as far as almost guaranteeing him an Oscar next year. 

And rightfully so. There’s a delicacy in his performance that brings even the harshest of skeptics (like me) to tears. Not only is Plummer fulfilling the role of a gay man, but one who’s lived his entire life in hiding, only to come out in a world where being gay is secondary to one’s place in society.

Plummer’s vulnerability in this role, earnest and heart-wrenching, shakes you to the core – emotionally, physically, psychologically. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to come into a world that is twice removed from what had originally kept you away from it. Beginners succeeds, in many ways that Brokeback Mountain or any Sofia Coppola film failed to, in representing the way life actually in the 21st century: removed, catatonic, indifferent, but hopeful.

Beginners lives in two realities. McGregor, as the lead, falls in love with a young, vivacious actress (played by newest French it-girl Melanie Laurent in her first North American feature) who, while the opposite of him, is equally unable to navigate the pressures of modern relationships, like balancing one’s own life with the needs of another person. 

In the end, the film teaches you that, gay or straight, love is the same. You just have to find it for yourself, manifested in ways you least expected.

Oh, and bring tissues. Lots. 

*Open to Toronto residents only.

Rave: Insidious

For a little break from our fashion week reporting, here’s a quick review of the latest flick by Alliance Films, Insidious, from our film reviewer, Paul Aguirre-Livingston. Was it truly scary or just a joke? Find out below. Insidious opens in theatres today. 

Twitter: @pliving; @InsidiousMovie; @AllianceFilms

Why is it that, as adults, each time we get scared, we shudder or shiver or yelp  – and then laugh? That was me (already, I know) all through the cult horror Insidious, opening today. Rumor has it, according to one PR girl and some dude sitting beside me, the flick screened at last year’s TIFF and before the end of the screening, was snapped up for distribution. 

Conceived and created by fear team James Wan and Leigh Whannell (the duo who brought you the Saw franchise, the first movie since Freddy to actually scare me), Insidious centres on a veritable house of horrors – in alternate dimensions – taking place within a real haunted house. The movie stars Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson as a suburban American couple who move into their dream home, but begin to experience supernatural events after their son lapses into a coma for no apparent medical reason. 

Confused and frustrated by the lack of progress in his condition, the noises that go bump in the night only get worse: blood on the sheets, men at the window, voices over the baby monitor. Classic spook tactics. Finally, a supernatural expert is brought in and the real fun begins: journeys to other dimensions, contact with lost souls and fights with evil spirits ensue. 

It’s quite the departure from what we’re used to for modern scary movies. In a movie like Saw (or even Scream), you feel like the plot points could actually happen in real life. But with Insidious, rife with magical and mystical themes, you really have to be a believer to be scared. Wan and Whannell create a world within a world, where everything is subjective, and perceptions will make you second guess your motives. How much are we willing to believe before it all stops being spooky and starts sounding … crazy? 

And I think that’s their intention. There’s one major plot point – that I won’t give away here – that had me dreaming, and subsequently Googling, for days about the possibility of losing yourself in sleep. (Watch it, you’ll see what I mean). 

What’s also great about the movie is the comedy. During a Q-and-A with the guys, they noted that they wanted to use comedy to tell people when to laugh, rather than have them laugh at scary parts because they’re cheesy. They succeed, blending suspense and comedy with a strong supporting cast of ghost hunters that enter during the second half of the movie (including a role played by Whannell).

So, if you like shows like Buffy, or cult classics like Beetlejuice, you might have found a dream come true.

Rave: Blue Valentine

Recently, Alliance Films offered the Fourth Floor tix to a screening of Blue Valentine. We happily accepted and raced each other to the theatre. 

Why should you see this movie? Ryan Gosling. The end.

Jokes! There’s more to this flick than a pretty man-face. Much more.

We loved Blue Valentine. It was gritty, real, tough, sweet, and utterly charming at moments. At other moments, it was heartbreaking. There were more than a few tears in the audience. 

The film focuses on Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), a couple with a young daughter, a golden retriever and an unhappy marriage. The story of their relationship is told through flashbacks juxtaposed with scenes from their current life. 

They seemed fated to be together, and watching Dean and Cindy fall in love is so enjoyable. Their beginning is sweet, sincere and happy. 

Dean and Cindy’s relationship doesn’t keep its golden glow forever. It’s so sad to see how life changes such a strong love. 

It was interesting to see how the appearances of Williams and Gosling change throughout the film as they age. They go from young, attractive and glowing, to older and looking like life had finally just… gotten to them.

The four of us who saw the film could relate to it in different ways, and it left us thinking long and hard about the relationships in our lives. Here are our thoughts:

Christina: Although Blue Valentine didn’t make me cry (like most of the audience), I immensely enjoyed this film. Going home later that evening, and for two days following the film, I’ve found my mind drifting back to the story of romantic relationship turned cold. Looking forward to seeing it again (perhaps even in theatres). 

Rachelle: The movie made my heart swell and my eyes cry. It was a very honest portrayal of a couple facing real life happening and love fading. Sad, but true.

Abby: It made me really think about my relationship with my fiance, how similar our relationship was (in some ways) to the young Dean and Cindy, and how much I don’t want to become the older version of them. It’s scary to see how easily a relationship can crumble away, even with the best beginning. It’s cliché, but true – love isn’t enough. 

Lara: The acting was superb, and the story was incredibly easy to relate to. The sensitive man with philosophical depth is so attractive to women at the beginning of the relationship and good “on paper” qualities we look for are often thrown out the window as a result. However, these characteristics that attract women in the beginning can end up being turn-offs in the long run; this was the case in Blue Valentine. Watching their relationship unfold was a reminder of my first boyfriend and our relationship. With no resolution at the end, I was left feeling sombre watching a relationship turn sour. What can I say, I’m an eternal optimist!
Go see this (but not with someone you just started dating). Then, run home and hug the one you love. 

We`re Not Just Pretty: Susan Smythe Bishop

Susan Smythe Bishop’s career in the motion picture industry spans more than 19 years. She joined Alliance Communications in 1992, and worked on (to name a few) The English Patient, Austin Powers and The Lord of The Rings trilogy. She also collaborated with many high-profile Canadian filmmakers, such as David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan and Denise Robert. Later, Bishop was promoted to senior vice-president of Publicity and Promotions, and raised the level of promotional activity from a local market focus to fully integrated national partnerships.

Bishop joined Maple Pictures in 2008 as co-vice-president of Publicity and Promotions, where she oversees the publicity and promotions for half of Maple’s product for the Theatrical and Home Entertainment divisions.

Fun fact! Bishop creates event cakes as a side business and donates all profits to the Canadian Picture Pioneers, as a way of giving back to the industry that she’s grown to love. She’s even earned the prize of “Best Wedding Cake” for two consecutive years at Bonnie Gordon’s annual Cake Competition.

Twitter: @MaplePictures

How long have you been in your current position?
I’ve been working with Maple Pictures for just under two years.
How does your company leverage PR ?
Our primary objectives are to increase awareness of our product and to grow our brand. This can be achieved in a number of ways, including taking part in press junkets, tailoring national opinion-maker screening programs, developing fully integrated national partnerships in all media (with a heavy emphasis on social) that encompasses publicity, sweepstakes/contests and event marketing. We place heavy importance on partnership marketing and working with like-minded companies. With this approach, we can tap into each other’s resources, extend our promotional reach and benefit from each others brand equity. 
What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?
I’ve almost always hired at entry level positions. Ideally, I think that’s how it should always work as when someone leaves our department – the person immediately below them should be able to take over the reins.
An interest in PR and/or a PR background helps, and anyone that has done an internship with a like-minded company would be considered for an interview. In my opinion, the amount of experience required for an entry level position isn’t nearly as important as the personality of the person we are looking for. They have to be a good fit with our team, they have to have a very positive outlook, be a team player, have a good sense of humour and have a natural sense of gratitude. We don’t want to bring someone in who will expect to be promoted within six months, and really shy away from candidates that appear to be star-struck.
Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?  
This is a hard question because there simply isn’t just one. I have learned just as much (if not more) from younger staff as I have from my previous bosses. My early experiences gave me the foundation I needed. Paying close attention to my employees has shown me that it’s so very important to have balance in your life and not allow your job to define you. I’ve learned to look for inspiration in everyone I meet, so anyone I’ve come in contact with may have unwittingly become a mentor to me in one way or another. I’ve even drawn inspiration from people whose behaviour is so atrocious that I secretly thank them for showing me how NEVER to behave or treat people.
What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows?   
Well, it actually makes me laugh a little because as far as I’m concerned, I think we have a rather un-sexy career! Don’t get me wrong, I really love what I do (in fact, it took me stepping away from it for a year to really appreciate how much I loved it and this industry). But, it’s not as though we are constantly hanging out with celebrities at parties.  
Our job is to make talent look great to the press, even if/when they treat us badly (and some do). We’re the ones that get soaked in the rain while holding the umbrella for the actors as they are stepping onto the red carpet; we are the ones to make sure talent are comfortably seated at the dinner table and that their order has been taken, before we sneak to the bar to munch on bar mix. And, it’s not just about working with actors. In fact, that is a small part of what we do. 
It’s sometimes our job to work 18 hour days to pull off an event or a huge promotion without a hitch or to get that proposal polished and ready to present. It can be a really fun, creative and fulfilling career for sure, but you will never find me in stilettos on the job – I’ll be the one wearing sensible shoes, and laughing with my co-workers, as they are the ones I want to hang out with!
What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?   
For junior PR pros, I would say be upfront, honest and earnest with everything you do. For senior PR pros, I think there is so much to be learned from the younger people in our industry. I don’t believe that “I’ve been doing this for years, so I have all of the answers” really holds up anymore (if it ever did), because things have changed on the media landscape so rapidly. The younger PR staff are so savvy and can adapt so easily to change. It’s important that we learn from each other.
What do you love most about your job?  
I absolutely love the people I get to work with each day – I’m so fortunate to work with such an amazing group of smart and fun people. I also really love the challenge of putting together a promotional campaign with next to no budget; it really pushes and challenges me to be more creative. More than anything though, I have to say that watching the younger staff learn and grow has become a huge part of what drives me in this crazy business of ours. That is so rewarding and gratifying.
A little more from the fourth floor:
Designer:  Douglas Coupland.
Store: Anthropologie.
Book: Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.
Snack: Riceworks Crisps.
Season: Spring.
Sexy: A great sense of humour.
Inspiration: O, the Oprah Magazine.
Drink: Lychee Martini.
Motto in two words: Be Thankful.
Idea of perfect happiness: Just hanging out with my husband and our dog.
Indulgence: Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing.
Celebrity crush: Colin Firth.
Favourite tweeter to follow: @JonGordon11

Rave: Somewhere

On December 20, we were lucky enough to not only get an early peek at Sofia Coppola’s latest film, Somewhere, but Stephen Dorff himself graced viewers with his presence. A reserved and somewhat bashful man, Dorff answered questions about the movie that otherwise would have left us lying awake in bed wondering “what happened?”. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but getting a chance to listen to Dorff’s interpretations of his character really allowed the movie to come full circle. We had a little taste of what it would be like to be in the audience at Inside the Actors Studio… and got to stare at someone that is way too easy on the eyes.

For 98% of the film, the camera does not let Dorff out of its sight. Most of the time he isn’t even speaking; it’s quintessential Coppola. Like her past films (for example, Lost in Translation), the pace is slow, the mood is set through what isn’t said, and you walk away thinking and analyzing.
Dorff’s character, Johnny Marco, is an A-list actor who lives in the famed Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. He drives a Ferrari, and parties with the most beautiful people in L.A., but is going through the motions, numb. In a life that could be filled with anything and everything, Johnny spends his days alone.
When his daughter, Cleo, played (perfectly) by Elle Fanning, shows up at his room at the Marmont to stay with him indefinitely, Dorff has to confront his lifeless life.
The father and daughter duo are left to bond, and emotions that Johnny has lost touch with are revived by Cleo. 
Aside from the story, the videography is in that signature Coppola helter-skelter style. Angles and long shots are interesting and visually appealing, as is the location of the flick itself. From Mulholland Drive to desert roads in California to Italy’s finest hotels, the scenery makes us want to skip town and move to the City of Angels.
The hotels are elegant and ooze history. Here’s an interesting tidbit: after the film, Dorff told the audience that the hotel in Italy was chosen because of Coppola’s memory of staying in a hotel with her father (filmmaker extraordinaire Francis Ford Coppola) in a massive suite that had its own pool. The grandiosity of it all struck her even as a young girl, and she wanted to feature the same look and feel in this movie.
Released to the public today, Somewhere is special and a definite must-see. It is tender and funny, and Stephen Dorff says it best; “[Sofia] rediscovered me – she made me cool again.” We always thought he was cool, but after seeing Somewhere, the bar’s been raised yet again.

A big thanks to Alliance Films for offering us screening tickets!

We’re Not Just Pretty: Carmite Cohen

Carmite Cohen knew from a young age that she’d somehow do something in the entertainment industry, because she was always filled with useless pop culture trivia and seemed to know everything about movies and TV shows.
She grew up in Israel, and spent her childhood in various countries, including Iran, Haiti, Rwanda, Niger and finally, Canada. Movies and TV shows were always a fascination, no matter what language they were delivered in.
After graduating from The University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Film Studies, Cohen moved to Toronto and completed the Seneca/York joint program for Radio and Television Production. 
Working (for free!) on commercials, TV and film productions in order to gain experience, she was hired at Alliance Films in 1997 as a production assistant. By 1998, she moved to Licensing and Merchandising, and secured and developed book, toy, apparel and video game deals.  
In 2001, Cohen transitioned to the Home Entertainment department as director of Marketing & Promotions (DVDs were just entering the market – exciting!). She was promoted to vice-president of Marketing, Publicity and Promotions of Home Entertainment in 2005, then joined the Theatrical Publicity and Promotions department as vice-president.
Some of her favourite things: hanging with family and her two awesome kids, travelling, good friends, magazines, The Biggest Loser, a good burger, shoes, New York, and going to the movies, of course!

Alliance Films
How long have you been in your current position?  
Just shy of four years.

How does your company leverage PR?
Alliance has a very diverse slate of films, from commercial fare to smaller art films, so we approach each one as if it’s a product launch and assess its needs. The question we always ask is, “how do we start the chatter and generate as much awareness pre-release as possible?”

Depending on the film, we try to generate opportunities for awareness with tastemaker and word-of-mouth screenings, stunting events, grassroots efforts and promotions, on-campus programs, strategic third party partnerships, and now, more than ever, engaging with our audience through various social media opportunities.

Access to talent and content is the easy way for us to generate press for our films; building a PR campaign that will get everyone’s attention (including media) is always the challenge. But, that’s what makes it fun and if we’ve done our job well, the proof will be in the ticket sales on opening weekend.


What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?  
Industry experience is a given, but as important: confidence, passion for what you do, the ability to think on your feet, a great personality and a sense of humour. Because, lets face it, when you’re wrangling talent at 3 a.m. on day five of the Toronto International Film Festival, if you can’t laugh about it on some level, you’re in the wrong business.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
I’ve been fortunate throughout my career, having worked in various parts of the film business, to have met some incredibly talented and creative people – marketers, publicists, filmmakers and studio execs. I’ve learned something from all of them. I’ve learned to really listen, be a sponge, and absorb as much of their expertise and advice as I can, and hopefully use it to benefit my own personal and professional growth.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows? 
It’s fun to watch, but I think it’s a little misleading because most times, the job is glamorized and perceived to be one big party after the next. You never really see the grunt work it takes to put together that event. PR has many perks, but the reality of it is that most of the time it’s highly stressful and not glamorous, it’s hard work and long hours, but if you’re committed, you’ll succeed.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior? 
No matter what the situation, always be professional and remember that it’s not personal, it’s business and “crazy and unreasonable” come with the territory.

What do you love most about your job? 
I love that I get to go to work everyday and my job is to promote movies! I still get giddy with excitement when I see a new trailer for a film that I’ll be working on. After all this time, it’s still fun, I’m still learning something every day, and I get to do it with a great group of people.

A little more from the fourth floor (a list of your favourite things):
Website: Deadline Hollywood Daily, Huffington Post, InStyle, and for my trashy gossip fix, Perez.
Designer: Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney.
Store: Want, Kitsch Boutique, Zara and anywhere that sells shoes.
Book: They Can Kill You But They Can’t Eat You by Dawn Steel (first woman to run a major U.S. movie studio), Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Snack: Apples with loads of almond butter.
Season: Summer.
Sexy: The look and style of the women of Mad Men.
Inspiration: New York City.
Drink: A really nice Malbec.
Motto in two words: It’s all about convenience (that’s four, I know!).
Idea of perfect happiness: Glass of wine, stack of magazines and a quiet house (even if it’s just for a little while).
Indulgence: Boots.
Celebrity crush: Bradley Cooper.

Favourite tweeter to follow: Denis Leary, Eat This Not That, Dr. Oz, Skinny Jeans, Funny or Die, OMG Facts.