Project Story

TIFF’s Innovation Journey

Back to Projects

TIFF: The Toronto International Film Festival Case Study

In collaboration with The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), we spoke with customers to better understand what film-related experiences they were looking for—and what would change their relationship with it. It’s all part of TIFF’s audience-first strategy, and The Moment is proud to have led the design of audience insights that TIFF continues to use.

Innovation Challenge

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is among the world’s most prestigious cinema showcases. The arts organization that runs the festival operates year-round, hosting screenings and events at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto. But, the way people consume content continues to change at an astounding pace and TIFF understood that they needed to evolve in order to stay ahead of the curve.

To maintain continued growth and relevance, TIFF needed to transform itself from simply a presenter of great films to a place where people gather to have enriching experiences inspired by film. That’s where The Moment entered the picture.


Working Together

TIFF was looking for new ways to translate research into action: they needed richer audience insights to fuel meaningful improvements in their creative programs. Their team had already conducted audience research and regularly measured responses to specific programs, but they knew they needed a fresh approach.

As their Innovation Partner, the goal was to craft program experiences grounded in audiences’ priorities and interests and to build TIFF’s capacity to keep innovating over time. Working closely with a core joined-up team, The Moment developed a curated set of design thinking tools and approaches that the extended project teams would use to re-imagine their program objectives. 

And so, together we set off to understand their audience and build design principles to help guide current and future work. We started by developing a shared understanding of what TIFF’s distinct audiences wanted from cultural experiences; what movie-goers think and feel; what they want to learn and be entertained by. We also engaged film creators to understand what the next generation of film talent in Canada needs and wants from TIFF to ensure Canadian perspectives are represented on screens worldwide.

As their Innovation Partner, the goal was to craft program experiences grounded in audiences’ priorities and interests–and to build TIFF’s capacity to keep innovating over time.

Next, we had TIFF work directly with members of key audience groups to co-create tailored program concepts in short cycles. This allowed us to conceive and test ideas, learn from each outcome, and get better with every iteration–understanding how audiences responded to each concept, and rapidly learning and adapting along the way.

Designing with audiences instead of for them was a powerful experience. The gap between knowledge and action completely vanished as the collaborations brought our research findings to life. Together we witnessed an enthusiastic response from audience members as they engaged with new programming ideas designed around their interests and aspirations.

TIFF continues to use insights from qualitative and quantitative research findings to understand and serve audience priorities and use evaluation criteria in support of confident, insight-driven decision making. 


What’s Changed

TIFF now has a hands-on tool that we co-created together: The Playbook of design strategies is a practical guideline that helps TIFF continue to learn about their audience and foster a mindset of innovation. Organizationally, TIFF has evolved to base programming and experiential decisions on real audience insights.

As a result, they now have several programs in the works based on audience insights we developed together: Picture Palace, a year-round attraction where audience members can interact and share movie-inspired experiences, and a camp program for kids. TIFF continues to approach programming with greater perspective, insight, and engagement while helping to change the way they make decisions.

Set the right foundations for your Innovation Project.

What Theresa from TIFF had to say.

Theresa Scandiffio
Senior Director, Learning
Toronto International Film Festival