I've probably met more famous people in my life than I have door-to-door salesmen. I once partied with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland in the penthouse of the Chateau Marmont, sipped tea with Keira Knightley at the Four Seasons and chain-smoked with the cast of Game of Thrones at a super private HBO party. I went about meeting my celebrity idols the hard way: I became an entertainment journalist. I don't stalk celebs; I interview them. There's a big difference, and for the purposes of the publicists I work with who might be reading this, I'd like to note that I'm using the word "stalk" merely in jest... at least for now.
I am well aware that the day will come when I will no longer get gigs interviewing stars because I'll be considered too old to relate to the youth or just too creepy to be trusted alone with Ryan Gosling or Alexander Skarsgard. Fortunately, I've watched enough rabid fans make terrible stalking mistakes only to be shut down by security to know exactly how I would track down my favourite celebs if one day I lose my press credentials or, worse, get sent out to pasture at Today's Senior. So you want to meet famous people, too? Forget the TIFF 2013 premiere schedule; you've got much smarter stalking to do.
Social media is your friend
Mere fools are those who stand by red carpets waiting to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. The likelihood of Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt stopping for even a quick photo with you is on par with Lindsay Lohan's chances of winning an Emmy for Liz & Dick. You don't want to catch celebs when they're busy doing their job; you want to run into them at Starbucks or saddle up to them when they're secretly chain-smoking in a hoodie outside a Pizza Pizza. That's where social media comes in. These days, anyone with an iPhone is a member of the paparazzi, and everyone's going to be sharing their brushes with fame online as soon as they happen. "Just saw James Franco getting a croissant at Nadege on Queen" they'll say, and you'll know to book it to Trinity Bellwoods. Twitter is the Grindr of locating famous people during TIFF. Want to know where all the exclusive parties are taking place? Start following gossip writers, schmoozy bloggers, hangers-on, and socialites on Twitter for the most up-to-date bragfests of all the parties you're not technically invited to. Once you've located the whereabouts of the party, you can be guaranteed some stars will come out for fresh air (read: cigarettes) or call it an early night (read: sneak out of the party their contract forced them to go to).
Fake like you're working the festival
As tempting as it is to dress provocatively in the hopes that your favourite star will fall in love with you from a distance, nothing screams "restraining order" quite like a civilian dressed up like Erin Brockovitch or 2013 Miley Cyrus. You'll have more luck hanging out at press junket venues if you dress like you're working the festival. Sure, all accredited media and industry people have badges they're supposed to wear, but that doesn't mean you can't blend in. Don't pretend to be a journalist either since, truthfully, we're considered to be industry bottom-feeders at film fests. Go for a look that says, "I'm from The Weinstein Company and it's my job to make sure everything runs smoothly at the August: Osage County premiere. Please get out of my way before Meryl and Julia miss their manicures." Wear a business suit that looks like it could easily be concealing an industry pass underneath. Do you have an old walkie-talkie lying around? Resurrect it. You're going to be yelling nonsense into that thing like you're Tom Hanks in Apollo 13, and you've got a problem. Make sure to have a complicated-looking Excel sheet on a clipboard with lots of pen marks littered with just the first names of famous people, which creates the impression that you work closely with them. "Benedict," for instance, is a good choice for TIFF 2013.
Hit up concert venues
What is the greatest insecurity of all Hollywood stars? That they're not as cool as musicians, of course. While the jury's still out on whether or not everyone can act (Adam Levine is making his TIFF debut this year, my friends), not everyone can make music... at least good music. That's why so many Hollywood stars either start a musical side project (2013 TIFF stars Scarlett Johansson and Jared Leto have 'em) or constantly profess their love for their favourite indie bands (TIFF 2013 dudes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jake Gyllenhaal do it all the time) to up their credibility. You can bet on seeing celebs at this year's festival out at everything from Patti Smith and Her Band (Roy Thompson Hall, September 5th) to Arctic Monkeys (Kool Haus, Sept 15). If you find yourself rocking out beside Jake Gyllenhaal, why not spring a fun lie on him to break the ice? Mention that you're the latest member of local gems Broken Social Scene. He'll be impressed, and the band's so big he won't know you're faking it. In fact, Broken Social Scene might not even notice if you just hit the road with them as the "tambourine dude" or "the clapper."
Know where the celebs eat
Just like the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, you'll definitely run into someone famous if you spend all day at pricier joints like Sassafraz, One, or Momofuku, but there's no guaranteeing you'll get Meryl Streep and not someone random celeb like the neighbour character from Mad About You, and meeting the waiters doesn't count. You can test your luck with restos geared towards food lovers, like Bar Isabel, Patria, The Black Hoof, and Playa Cabana Hacienda (where Drake and Lawrence Fishburne recently had a private dinner), but you're honestly just as likely to spot a celeb at Hero Burger at 2am having a meltdown. If you want guaranteed celeb sightings, sneak into Soho House by pretending to be a plumber and just stay put.
Have something unique to say
Once you've followed your favourite stars all over town, you might want to actually say something to them to make an impression. You did want to meet them and not just peer at them from a creepy close distance, right? Don't go overboard with fanatical praise and don't play it too cool for school either. In the end, famous people are just regular people with a lot more money and Twitter followers than you. They appreciate someone who's genuine and down-to-earth. That's why you should make up a big huge lie about this is your first TIFF and you're totally nervous about how your breakthrough performance in The Fifth Estate is going to be received. Then you can both have a laugh about how hectic film festivals are and how nice it will be when you get back home to Hollywood where everything will go back to normal.
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