TIFF SPECIAL: Inside the madness with Debra Goldblatt

Debra Goldblatt, the founder of Rock-it Promotions, one of the top PR firms in the city with a major TIFF presence. Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

Perhaps you checked your Twitter feed, glanced at a newspaper, or walked through Yorkville in the last few days? Yes, you’re right—there is something happening in this here town. It’s TIFF madness. Madness, I tell you!

Or, as Debra Goldblatt would say: It’s all logistics. Say it with me: Logistics.

When I sat down with Deb, the founder of Rock-it promotions, last Wednesday, she was cool, calm, and rather serene—in fact, the very model of a modern major general. The Rock-it promotions office in the Burroughes Building was quiet, with two banks of computers, a central conference table, and Deb’s office on the Queen Street side. There was an easy energy in the room, with four members of the team on-site and the rest out in the world, paving the ways and means.

The only hint that they might be overtired? The bowls of candy on the table.

Two things were different with Deb right off the bat. One, she gave me a real kiss, not the air kind. Two, she offered me water. Wonderful, because no one really needs a caffeine boost in this hopped-up business. I sat in her office with her while she fielded a few calls, negotiating meet-and-greets in five-minute increments. “You can have 10:50 to 10:55.” Whoa!

On her desk were four files, the four files. As she said, “I’ve been sleeping with these for the last month.” They represent four films (including Brighton Rock, with Helen Mirren), three nights at the Festival Music House, and, of course, the Tastemakers Lounge. Just a little bit of logistics. But here’s the thing about Deb—she’s been in the PR business for a few and she trusts her team.

I’ve worked with/been around PR peeps for some time now, and some of them are just like a cliché. One person in charge, with minions running around like proverbial chickens, clip boards in hand, wild eyes. Not so with Abigail Vanden Broek, Deb’s right hand. In fact, when Abigail entered the room, I felt calmer. She’ll be running the door at the invite-only music venue. Not to mention continuing the day-to-day operations at Rock–it.

So have you learned all about what a PR pro does during the festival? Hopefully not. “If I’ve done my job, you don’t know I’m there,” Deb said. “It’s about the talent and the films. That’s why I do this.” She does have one rule: No flip-flops on the job. God, I like her!

Want more TIFF 2010? Read Leanne Delap’s first TIFF column, and check out our picks for the fest’s hottest parties. Torontoist’s complete coverage of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is all right here.

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