How to Get Into Movie Premieres and Party Like a Star at Film Festivals

film fest secrets

Movies, and parties, and celebrities, OH MY!

I am someone who likes to experience the life of the Rich and Famous without the prospect of ever being rich and famous. I actually think I would hate being rich and famous. OK maybe I would just hate being famous. I’m already rambling…

This is going to be my “how-to” life-hack on film festivals. I’ll teach you the ins and outs of experiencing an expensive, fancy film festival without dishing out big bucks. It will mostly be related to TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) which is happening September 8-18th this year. But, a lot of these tips translate to other film festivals around the world.

I’ve been told to save the best for last… BUT I’m a rule-breaker, baby. So here’s the best tip first.


If you don’t have it, get it. If you don’t know how the heck to use it, learn it. (See Patricks’ entry on Twitter winning for a good start)

During the film festival, hundreds (I mean it!) of contests are happening in the span of those 10 days. If you enter every contest you can find, you WILL win something.

Follow the festival’s official twitter handle, as well as all the magazine/radio/news outlets in the city the festival is taking place in.

Unlike most contests, these are only open to people who are in Toronto (or the specific city the festival is in). Then, narrow it down even more to people who understand twitter. Figure it out, man!

When you win, don’t forget to bring me along as a thank-you.

Free stuff. Free stuff EVERYWHERE.

toronto film festival 2016

The city is filled with events and a lot of them are free, folks. Yes, free! The city always has a street or area blocked off and dedicated to the festival. In Toronto, that street is King St West.

Not only is there usually tons of fun stuff happening on Festival Street, but there’s always free goodies being handed out and lots of contests to win.

This year, there will be a FREE concert by Pharell and a FREE screening of a fan favourite movie on the last day of the festival. And TIFF promises even more goodies soon to be announced.

Bring out your inner stalker

toronto film festival 2016
If you don’t know who this is, we can’t be friends.

If you are anything like me, you get a rush out of seeing your favourite celebrity in person and then attempting to humiliate yourself by telling them how much you love them in that one movie you forget the name of, where they did the things in it.

Or you can bring your camera and use your zoom to get a grainy picture of them eating noodles in a restaurant you can’t afford to go to.


You don’t. That’s the exciting part. Think of it as a celebrity version of Pokemon GO.

And think of the “lures” as the streets and neighbourhoods with fancy restaurants and hotels. (I’m thinking Yorkville for Toronto)

But the easiest way to guarantee a celeb spotting is to attend an official premiere. (you can find the schedule on TIFF’s official website) You just need a good pair of shoes and a body part for them to sign.

As inspiration, I will attach some of my best TIFF celebrity experiences… And the best part? Celebrity stalking is free!

A rule breaker’s paradise

toronto film festival 2016

Finally, I will tip you on the party situation. This is definitely the most difficult part to experience. If you are a bit of a rule breaker, there are always a few parties that are easy to sneak into. Usually parties are happening every night of the festival, often even several a night.

There are some you don’t even attempt (Soho House? Nope. You’ll get caught every time)

However, with the smaller parties in the city, if you dress the part, or take someones wristband when they’re leaving, it’s a piece o’ cake.

PS: always open bar and usually amazing food.

You don’t have to be cheap ALL the time

toronto film festival 2016

If you don’t mind spending a little cash, these movie premieres are a cool thing to experience at least once. Usually, the actors and directors will watch the movie in the theatre with you, and then do a Q & A afterwards. (open to the audience, so you get a chance to ask a question if you have the balls!)

It isn’t that unreasonably priced, either. Roughly $40 for the galas and $20 for the regular screenings.

I recommend familiarizing yourself with the ticket-seller’s website before they even go on sale, because the decent movies sell out almost immediately. And you won’t want to buy a ticket on Craigslist for 500% more than its worth.

It’s also a good idea to pick a screening of a movie that isn’t releasing to the public in awhile. You get to see some movies a year ahead of time!

Or choose an obscure, foreign film that might never be released. Ever. Keep in mind if that’s the case, it might just suck. But, that’s the fun of it all!

Last year, I spent my precious money on Jason Reitmans Live Reading of the Princess Bride. It was a bunch of random celebrities that come and live-read a movie script together.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch Patrick Stewart as Prince Humperdink, and Rachel McAdams as Princess Buttercup. (among many others)

toronto film festival 2016

These kinds of things are worth it because they are actually a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity.

*side note: I was able to stalk Rachel McAdams the next night at a party I snuck into and tell her how hilarious and amazing that live-reading was. See above stalker party tips. I’m telling you, they work!*

If you follow these tips, you are guaranteed to have a story or two to share after the festival is over. If you do, I’d like to hear about it! Tweet me (@kaylasheaphoto) your TIFF 2016 adventures and I’ll tweet you mine! See you there.

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One Response

  1. That’s interesting that there are so many contests that will have entry into a festival as a prize before the festival starts. I think it would be super cool to be able to go to Sundance or something like that. I’ll have to give those contests a try and see if I can get away into a film festival that way.

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