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TIFF celebrity selfie-seekers share their secrets

You’ve seen them around the city during TIFF: hordes of selfie-seekers, phones in hand, waiting patiently for stars to arrive at screenings. Or maybe you’ve seen their handiwork on Instagram, where the hashtag #TIFF16 aggregates a stream of photos with celebrities squeezed into the frame alongside delighted fans. Who are these people willing to wait for hours, rain or shine, to snap a picture with their favourite stars? We asked three of TIFF’s most prolific selfie-takers about their experiences.

Reem Chahrour, 23 (@reemisradd)

Apple store worker and student in media communications at Humber

How long have you been doing selfies with celebrities? I started when I was 16 years old, thanks to the Jonas Brothers. I loved them growing up and always wanted to meet them. After meeting them, I thought, “Why not meet everyone I like and admire?”

What was your best celebrity encounter this year’s TIFF? That would probably have to be Ryan Gosling. At my first TIFF in 2010, I really, really wanted to meet him. So I stood out in the rain outside the Windsor Arms, asking around, spending days out there, only to find out that he had already left town. So to finally meet the person who helped me discover TIFF is definitely my proudest celebrity moment.

What’s the longest you’ve ever waited to get a photo? Probably four or five hours.

Who’s the most friendly celebrity you’ve ever met? Jessica Chastain and Gerard Butler. Those two are ALWAYS willing to stop and say hello to their fans. Gerard Butler is extra fun because he’ll always find ways to make you laugh!

Who was the least friendly? Oh my god, probably Natalie Portman or Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Natalie Portman will just never stop, no matter who you are. Any time there’s a carpet or a press stop she has to do, you’ll hear people around booing her. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will always respond by saying, “Why would I want to do that?”

Any advice for people who want to snap a photo with a star? Do your research and give them a reason to do it. If you’re their number-one fan, act like it. Make a joke. Rachel McAdams took a photo with me because I told her that I love riding the TTC just like she does. When I met Andrew Garfield, at first he said no, but when he saw how sad I was, he stopped his car in the middle of traffic to open the door and take a photo with me. It made the story behind the photo more fun than the snap itself.

Do you edit your photos before posting them? Sometimes I use filters, and sometimes I sharpen them or brighten them, depending. The celebs always look great, but after running around all day and then finally catching up to someone like Christian Bale at 8 p.m., you probably don’t look your best.

What’s your dream celebrity encounter? I would love to meet Leonardo DiCaprio. It almost became a reality this year, but sadly he was one of the inaccessible ones. I always believe that there is a reason why I didn’t get to encounter them this time: because when I do, it’ll be the best experience ever.

Darryl Pezzack, 25 (@movieman1990)

Movie theatre worker

How long have you been doing selfies with celebrities? I’ve been participating in TIFF since 2008. For a while, I was only about getting the shot, but when selfies became a thing three years ago, I started getting them with just about anyone I could.

What celebrity encounter are you most proud of from TIFF this year? This year, hands down, it had to be Leonardo DiCaprio. My favourite movie is Inception, and he signed my box set. Great moment.

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What’s the longest you’ve ever waited to get a photo? Eight hours for Robert Downey Jr. at the Judge premiere in 2014. Unfortunately, no photo with him.

Who’s the most friendly celebrity you’ve ever met? I’d say Tom Hardy or Jessica Chastain. They both do almost everything possible to keep everyone happy.

Who was the least friendly? I hate to bad-mouth a celebrity, but Natalie Portman always darts into her premieres and doesn’t give fans the time of day.

Any advice for people who want to snap a photo with a star? Go early, be polite and don’t scream at them. Be calm and ask nicely for a photo and they’ll respect you more for it. Don’t grab at them.

Do you edit your photos before posting them? I edit a bit if it’s too dark, or zoom in if they’re too far from me. If it’s dark I usually use the Reyes filter on Instagram. If it’s far away I usually crop the shot down to just the talent. I use Instacollage, LilPix, or Pic Collage if I want more then one photo in the shot.

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What’s your dream celebrity encounter? Probably Jim Carrey. He’s my favourite comedian and I’ve liked his work for a long time. I haven’t had the chance to meet him yet.

Sandi Leung, 23 (@neverfallaprt)

Derivatives administrator and CPA candidate

How long have you been doing selfies with celebrities? I started in 2013 at an event for Olivia Wilde and went back in 2014 to see Jennifer Aniston. In 2015, I went out for Johnny Depp and Eddie Redmayne, and this year I’ve been out for six days straight. Now that I’ve finished school, I have more time to participate in the festivities.

What celebrity encounter are you most proud of from TIFF this year? This year, probably Amy Adams.

What’s the longest you’ve ever waited to get a photo? Seven hours.

Who’s the most friendly celebrity you’ve ever met? Amy Adams and Michelle Rodriguez. I didn’t personally meet Gina Rodriguez, but I heard she was the nicest, friendliest and all-around best celebrity to the fans at TIFF this year.

Who was the least friendly? The ones who swerved to avoid fans this year were Taron Egerton, Aja Naomi King, and Uzo Aduba.

Any advice for people who want to snap a photo with a star? It takes patience and determination. You’ll make choices between food and water, the washroom or the celebrity. I’ve had times where I decided to go to the washroom or get food, and missed Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway and few others. Also, be prepared to run.

Do you edit your photos before posting them? I mostly touch up my photos, since selfies aren’t great quality to begin with. I don’t use an Insta filter directly. Instead, I do it with Afterlight or VSCOcam and finish it off with some Instagram editing tools for the final touches.

What’s your dream celebrity encounter? My dream celebrity encounter is definitely Scarlett Johansson. She means so much to me and it would be the absolute best moment of my life.

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