If you can survive the first 48 hours, you will be just fine.
Downtown Toronto literally turns into a Hollywood war zone for 10 days as the Toronto International Film Festival unfolds each year, with shutterbugs and autograph seekers lining the streets.
This is my second year covering the festival, and even seasoned veterans who have covered it for decades will tell you it's no cakewalk.
In fact, it's downright exhausting.
But most of the chaos tends to take place within the first weekend, so without further ado: my first 48 hours of TIFF.
My first red carpet was at The Big Chill Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Princess of Wales - the opening night of TIFF. It might have been the most relaxed red carpet I've covered to date.
The carpet "locks" 15 minutes before the talent arrives, meaning you can't leave the venue - or your numbered spot on the carpet, for that matter. At a big premiere, there are usually more numbered spots than space to fit people, so often you're crammed elbow-to-elbow with the guy next to you. But at The Big Chill, there was space to stretch out.
The stars were in good spirits and took their time with us, answering questions about the 30th anniversary of the cult classic.
I remember seeing action hero Tom Berenger walking towards me, and all I could think was, Oh god, Sniper is coming this way.
And he was gracious and thoughtful when asked whether The Big Chill still holds up today.
"You could do the same movie today with different cast of this generation and different dialogue and it'd be the same thing," he said.
During carpets or events, the Sun TIFF team is constantly updating blogs and tweeting, snapping photos and so forth. We're filing stories as they happen. It's hectic.
Around 10 p.m., photographer Jack Boland and I head to The Drake Hote for their Down the Line TIFF party, celebrating London's rock and mod music scene from the 1970s.
It's truly a place for scenesters. Beautiful women wearing Jackie-O inspired dresses made out of knitted VHS tape are wandering around while upstairs, 15 people have agreed to get an impromptu tattoo. Yes, that's permanent.
Alas, no celebrities in sight when we were there.
However, Drake publicist Lindsey Cepek mentioned Benedict Cumberbatch was scheduled to do his press interviews at the venue later in the week. Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch was seen hanging out at the Drake Friday night and Donald Sutherland was eating a lumberjack breakfast there Saturday morning.
On Friday afternoon, I head back to the Princess of Wales Theatre for the big premiere of the 12 Years a Slave. Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti are both supposed to be there, but the big draw is Brad Pitt.
And he did not disappoint, even rocking a ponytail. He spoke to us at length about human trafficking, even though the screening was already running late and we were the end-of-the-line print journalists. Class act all the way.
The plan for Friday night was to cover two parties - Mongrel's exclusive bash at the Don Valley Evergreen Brick Works and Nikki Beach at the Spoke Club on King St. W., where it was confirmed Arrested Development's Jason Bateman was hanging out earlier in the evening.
I pull up to the Brick Works in style where the party is separated into different areas, including a (gasp!) free massage room, games room complete with vintage Pac-Man arcade games, foosball and ping-pong. There's an open space for bands to play and another area with a smorgasbord of food.
I always judge a party by the food. And there was no shortage of it - industry people lined up for gourmet burgers, hot dogs, perogies and doughnuts.
I think I may have seen Canadian screenwriter/producer Paul Haggis schmoozing with folks.
I head back downtown around midnight and re-caffeinate myself at a Tim Horton's. You know you're getting old, when you start repeating this out loud:
But my memory foam pillow must wait.
I grab my comrade Victoria Ptashnick and we are welcomed past the red velvet rope, up to the fourth floor of the Spoke Club on King St. W., near Portland St.
Let's put it this way: I am a flats chick; heels is not part of my usual wardrobe. I don't really wear make-up. This is not my scene, but I figure, never been to TIFF club shindig. Why not, right?
The place was rammed with size 0 women admiring each other, heavily hair-gelled men and was exactly what I imagined such a party would entail. We didn't stay very long, but for those into that scene - this probably would have been a great bash for them.
Clive Owen - who is here promoting Blood Ties and Words and Pictures - was seen chatting with friends on the rooftop.
I arrive home, TIFFed out.
Toronto Sun City Editor Jonathan Kingstone, when he heard I was working all weekend, suggested, "Get some sleep."
Two days into the festival, I think he just might be on to something.
There's a certain perceived glitz and glamour that's engrained with one of the biggest film festivals in the world, but there's also a seedy underbelly side of it as well.
Outside the Ritz-Carlton hotel, two local documentary filmmakers are waiting for celebs to come out of the hotel. They describe a group of people called, "Hounds" - people that carry binders of 8Ã10 glossies of different stars they know will likely walk the red carpet.
"It's a business to them," Sheldon Ludwig, 24, said. "They push to the front for autographs and then sell them after."
Ludwig along with his brother, Brandon, 25, said such "Hounds" are distinguishable and tend to hang out in packs. They often wait in cars across the street of hotels where celebrities are known to stay.
Several of them were seen at The Fifth Estate gala, waving pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch for the British actor to sign.
Once they have an autograph, they will sell the photos on eBay or other websites.
"They're not fans and they give a bad name to fans," Ludwig said.
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