At twenty-nine years old, after four years of university, several backpacking adventures, and a couple working stints in different countries I have been to more than my fair share of parties. So to classify this past Saturday as one of the coolest parties of my life is definitely something.
Its Toronto Film Festival time and since I’ve managed to miss the event every year its been running I assumed this year would be no different until I received an unexpected email from my buddy Brian from Los Angeles.
I met Brian this past January in Barcelona as he and his best friend Miguel stayed in my apartment for a couple weeks as they were in town vacationing. Miguel’s brother was my roommate at the time so we all got to know one another fairly well during their stay. Brian, a film producer/director, and I hit it off pretty well chatting about baseball, politics, and movies but when he flew back to LA I honestly never thought I’d ever see him again. Life’s little surprises I guess.
So last Thursday he notifies me that he’s coming to Toronto and wants to know if I’ll be around, and me being up for anything at all times decided I’d definitely make the trip into the city to hang out with him. Figured it would be a fairly tame night, until noon on Saturday he sends me an email from one of his friends and tells me to RSVP to the invite for the Abu Dhabi Film Commission party attached in the email. He’s sure to tell me he’s not sure if I will be accepted at the door, “but its worth a shot”. Though I agreed it was worth trying, I had no intention of getting rejected like an outcast on my own. I enlisted the support of my long-time retired Expert, Best in the Business Wingman A-Mac. A-Mac and I have run partying missions across more cities and countries than I can remember and if there were an award given to a duo for most consecutive good times, we’d be awarded matching Purple Hearts (or purple livers). The arm twisting was at an all-time low to enlist his support.
As we met at a halfway point before driving to Toronto we realized we were wearing the exact same outfit, literally the only different was shoe colour. Disgraceful. Thankfully I had a backup shirt in my car and as A-Mac brought out his patented death stare I was forced to change clothes in what suddenly became the busiest street in Toronto.
Shortly after my strip show we began walking towards our destination. We quickly realized I grossly underestimated the destination and what was supposed to be 5 minute walk became a 45 journey. As it isn’t the first time I’ve done this, A-Mac walked along muttering curse words while I apologized on the outside and laughed hysterically on the inside. We agreed this was not a positive omen for the evening.
We finally arrived at the venue and as I approached the doorlady with her mighty clipboard she asked the question that would seal our fate, “What list are you on? At this time, my usually collected self crumbled like a deck of cards and as I tried to answer, my brain became void of knowledge and all that remained was a chorus of mumbles and various studders. Luckily A-Mac had actually READ the invitation and we were let right in. Well done old friend.
Welcome to Shangra-La. When I first saw this party was for the Abu Dhabi film commission the promise of good food excited me. As I walked in I could smell the Venison being prepared in one corner as beautiful waitresses surrounded us with appetizers in every shape and size. In the middle of the room was a large rectangular bar where we noticed there was no cash register. Free gourmet food and an open bar at 730pm. Time to get to work.
A-Mac and I met up with Brian and started working the room. We quickly made friends with a local TV show host named Emmanulle who turned out to be a helluva guy and a few hour “industry insiders” and we stood in the middle of the room drinking and eating like vikings in celebration, “Don’t worry guys, next round is on me” quickly became a popular line.
As 9pm rolled around and the feeding died down we noticed the crowd slowly migrating to the second floor. I was adamantly against leaving our current party until I was informed they had stopped serving food: Second floor here I come.
At this point I wish I had been a touch more sober so I may have enjoyed this next moment even more. This second level was a completely different party, the Premiere of the film DEAD GIRL (i’d never heard of it either). And when I walked onto this level I imagined I felt like what most serious catholics feel like when walking into St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican City: I was home.
The bar on the left side of the room spanned the entire level, a DJ stood atop a platform of the far end and a large Stella Artois booth was prominently featured in the center of the room. Throughout the entire room walked beautiful models advertising anything from alcohol to interior designers and since they probably thought I may be a producer or director they would stop and chat at length for no apparent reason. Plus did I mention it was still an open bar? I mean, I’m not a big drinker anymore, but free Stella is free Stella is free Stella. And all I heard from A-Mac was “double vodka”, “is this a double?”, “I said double vodka”.
The best dynamic about the entire evening is that the entire crowd was as friendly and cool as possible. Now I do realize that this is likely because its a room filled with people that have an agenda. Actors looking for new roles and to shake hands and piggy back anyone possible to take their career to that next step or maybe producers looking to sell films, get funding or just shake some good hands. Either way, for this reason everyone was your best friend, and for two guys like A-Mac and I, this suited our needs perfectly. Anecdote after anecdote, bad joke after bad joke we managed to meet more people than I’m sure either of us can remember. At one point it seemed things were going so well for the two of us i wouldn’t have been surprised if someone would have offered us starring roles in an Apatow buddy comedy.
As our night winded down around 2am the partygoers decided it was time to head out… mainly because there was no longer any alcohol left. So there we stood on a street corner close to 3am and realized i was in zero condition to drive home so it was now time to figure out where we would be sleeping. Apparently the best place to figure this out is inside your local McDonald’s.
We grabbed our combos and multiple burgers and sat down to reminisce about the evening. As we bit into our trans fat masterpieces we were joined by two girls, and the four of us began chatting and having quite the laugh. At this point I am not particularly clear how it happened but 45 minutes later A-Mac and I were in their apartment asleep on their couch. Problem solved. Thank you Mickey D’s.
The entire experience was one of the most unexpected I’ve had in a while, which is likely why it was such a blast. But it just goes to show that the more you think you can predict what will happen next, the more you realize you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. So its best to just move in the direction you think is best for you and hope that you chose the right door. Because behind one is regret and lessons to be learned and behind the other is an open bar and all the best food you can eat.
Choose wisely. Viva la TIFF.