Six in the Six: half a dozen burning questions for Jay Stoney, TIFF celebrity selfie fanatic
Ever wonder about the megafans who hang outside the big TIFF premieres and parties for hours (and hours) on end? Here, Jay Stoney, Toronto’s most dedicated celebrity selfie-snapper, whose Instagram is the stuff of star-spotting legend, talks long waits, big gets and why he might need to have his head examined.
First off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do when you’re not on the celebrity selfie hunt?
I’m a very shy guy. I started taking celebrity photos at TIFF 2012. I didn’t get the greatest results, but then my second year was a lot better. I wanted to understand the experience of being a celebrity in the city. When I started out I was on my own, but then I started meeting other people who had been doing this for a long time. It’s a fun community: we joke around, we support each other. Our fan circle is really civil.
What is your schedule like during the Film Festival?
I’ve taken time off from work. I’ll be out of the house every morning by nine or ten. I’ll meet up with friends and we’ll travel around the Entertainment District or Yorkville just looking to see what events are happening, whether it’s a pre-party or after-party. You can tell, because you’ll see a lineup starting to form outside.
What kind of wait times are we talking?
I waited for ten hours for Jake Gyllenhaal. I camped outside David Pecaut Square. It was the first day of TIFF and there were ten or twenty of us hoping to get a good front row spot. I got the spot, but no photo. At least I got to see him. He’s still on my must-get list.
With respect, what compels a grown man to wait ten hours for a person he has never met? Do you ever think about the things you could do with the time you spend waiting?
All the time. We’re always saying we need to have our heads examined. I guess it’s just really wanting that photo.
If I’m new to the celebrity selfie game, what are your best tips? Say one “do” and one “don’t.”
Definitely have a camera that works and is fully charged. More than once I’ve seen cameras die. Proper hygiene is a must. There are people who go to these events and they have bad body odour. Don’t be too aggressive.
Why not try to sneak into one of the big parties rather than just waiting outside?
No, never. I try not to overstep my boundaries. Plus I don’t think I’m dressed appropriately for those events.
Jay’s Finest TIFF 2015 Moments:
“She gave me a light kiss on the cheek. She said, ‘Don’t post it on Facebook, my husband might find out.’”
“I did not expect George to show up on the red carpet. So that was a great surprise.”
“I had to fight for this one and scream out. There were a lot of fans. Luck was on my side”
“She was very nice. She went down rows of fans signing autographs and taking pictures.”
“Sometimes security guards will say ‘no selfies.’ That’s hard, but at least I got to see him and get a picture.”