Don’t you know who I am? I’m Kind of a big deal! And other tales from my experience as a Guest List Bitch during TIFF

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For those of you just joining us today in the wacky, yet I’m sure we’d all agree, WONDERFUL world of Paris (that’s me), Jambo! And here’s the spark notes on the important info:

I am a 24 (almost 25-sweet-baby-cheeses-that’s-old) year old Australian who lives in Toronto, Canada, but who grew up in Asia, and I am probably definitely the most inappropriate, coolest, and most all-over the place girl you know.

I’ve also been looking for a real job (read: one with a steady salary, and or benefits) in Film, TV, Production, Advertising, Marketing, Social Media…look i’ll literally do anything creative you want at this point…you want me to dress up like a Monkey and clap my hands while hopping around the office singing, ok i’ll do it. Let me just update my LinkedIn….for a while now.

As such, I have been temping, which for those of you that don’t know (lucky straight into jobs after your degree bitches…oh so you did a degree with the name of an actual job in it?! That’s cool, me and my Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Creative writing will be chilling over here with the cool kids) is when you get hired on Assignments to do Reception, Data Entry, Help at Events… etc.

So two weekends ago I was asked if I’d like some weekend work at some parties for TIFF.

TIFF stands for Toronto International Film Festival, and like, don’t freak out, but it’s kindof a big deal worldwide. I used to live in Sydney, Australia and attended the SIFF and even I had hear of TIFF and even followed the head of TIFF, Cameron Bailey on twitter (more on him later).

So I love Parties and I love Film so I said, Hells yes. Sign me up.

And it was glorious.

Not only did I get to meet some lovely celebrities I also got to talk to the people that actually make shit happen in the world of entertainment, Assistants to big name producers, Agents, Finance people, Parents of stars (Daniel Radcliff’s dad is potentially the nicest and shortest British man I have ever had an interaction with, he told me Dan was always ditching him at parties…sigh).

Everybody sucks up to the guest list girl (I gathered) because the huge scary gorrilla like bouncers standing behind you are only listening to you. If you say they’re in, they’re in. If you say they aren’t on the list, then step aside please. They don’t give a shit who you are. They’ve been working all day as personal trainers/bodybuilders/guards and are on their third redbull. You do NOT want to fuck with them.

And everybody wants to get into the “cool” parties where the celebs, and free drinks and pretty women are. And that’s where I was. Little old me, behind a velvet rope with a clip board and a friendly Australian accent.

I love how you can learn so much about people when you’re suddenly observing them from a position of power. You don’t know these people, you don’t have to suck up to them. Okay sure I was flirting and being friendly (and I did get some potential contacts and business cards) but really I was doing a job. Finding a name on a list, and if it wasn’t there, sorry guy. You can spout as many names as you want, they don’t mean a thing to me.

Some particularly noteworthy incidents:

-The coked-up finance guy who got so close to my face i’m pretty sure spittle flew into it, while he was grinding his teeth and ranting. Sorry bud, we’re AT CAPACITY. And you’re right, I did let the Celeb in even though we’re AT CAPACITY because that’s what I was told to do so the paps don’t harass them. Just doing my job buddy, nope I’ve never heard of you. Tell me again how you don’t wait in lines.

-The wife of the guy who cut the trailer. Listen lady, I’m going off the list, I’m sorry that you and your husband aren’t on it (he was totally quiet and not making a fuss) and I agree, it seems unjust, but i’m just doing what I’m told. Go ahead and call somebody from the producers office. When I get an update, you can come in.

-The drunk, 40+ women (four of them) who tried to get in because they met such-and-such at the hotel and he told them to come. Uhhhhh nooooope. You can get as offensive as you like and try to grab the list, but this giant guy behind me, Brandon, he’s not going to like that so…

In contrast, all of the celebrities, directors and big deal producers I met were excruciatingly lovely. Not a bad egg among them. Almost all of them THANKED me as they exited. Thanked me. Like I really had anything at all to do with anything. I just stood outside in the cold with clip board. Some of them even had private jokes with me because I’d seen them a few times and also…i’m hilarious.

Cameron Bailey, Head of TIFF and who I’ve followed on Twitter for 6 years now, I couldn’t find him on the list because they had put his name back-to-front as Bailey Cameron. Me, being the slow ditz that I am didn’t recognize him and said “i’m sorry you’re not on the list.”

To which he calmly replied, “I think you might find that I am” before one of the party planners tore outside and said “he’s good! Thanks for coming Mr Bailey” before shooting me a dark look.

Life is not dull.

I’ll give you that much.

 

 

Austraalien on Australia day

I wanted to write a post to coincide with Australia day, about what it means to be an Australian expat living far from home.
That was yesterday here in Canada, two days ago for my Australian friends. Time differences are weird.

The thing is, I have a complicated relationship with the country I was born in, lived in briefly somewhere in the middle of my childhood/adolescence, and then went to University in.
I am Australian, according to my passport. Australia is “home” according to that small navy little book, with colourful pages, my details in the front and a tracking chip in the middle. But if you flip through it, the stamps in it, the time-line… well… they tell a different story.

That’s what this blog is about, me and the Austraalien experience. Being an Alien in every culture. Someone different, noticeably outsider-ish whether it be because of the colour of my skin and hair, my accent, or my lack of cultural identifiers. I felt like a complete idiot when I started University, people talked and laughed about things that I had never heard of. They used slang I wasn’t familiar with, and had social cues that went right over my head. But then so did my Hong Kong Chinese friends, laughing in Cantonese, a language I vaguely but-not-really tried to learn.

But then, I have never tried to fit in.

Call it stubbornness, link it to my generations love of individualism.

The perceived otherness, the thing that sets us a part. The thing that makes us special.

Because that’s what everyone wants to believe. That they are some how different and special.

I’ve written blog posts before about seeking a home, that elusive construct that I’m not sure exists for me.

But I’ve never let my roots grow too deep. I could have stayed in Australia after my Masters degree, 2012 would mark six years. But I didn’t. I got out. I had to. I was choking and suffocating, not happy in myself, my relationship or the path I was headed. When I lived there, I couldn’t stop dissing it. I compared it constantly to my other “home” Hong Kong and ridiculed things that I perceived as being inferior to that Asian shopping and eating Mecca. I refused to see the positive qualities, the things it did extremely well.

The thing that kills me now that I’m over in North America, is how many people are busting their asses to get over to the country I snubbed. Canadians, Americans, and those from the UK (the majority of people I meet here) are DYING to go to Australia. Many have already been, and used up their one year living visa. People are incredulous that I would trade Sydney, Australia, that haven of beach blondes, bridges and blue sky, for the great white North.

And when I think about Australia, being far away from it, I am ridiculously proud of some aspects of that wide flat country. Yes we have beautiful scenery, but we’re also a notoriously fun and friendly people, big drinkers and big talkers. People love Australians- and everyone has a cultural anecdote or joke to tell.

I’m ridiculously sentimental, and when I hear the qantas song, I tear up. It’s here if you haven’t heard it before.

Tear jerker for me, here are the lyrics:

I’ve been to cities that never close down,
From New York to Rio and old London town,
But no matter how far or how wide I roam,
I still call Australia home.

I’m always trav’lin’,
And I love being free,
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea,
But my heart lies waiting — over the foam.
I still call Australia home.

All the sons and daughters spinning ’round the world,
Away from their families and friends,
But as the world gets older and colder and colder,
It’s good to know where your journey ends.

But someday we’ll all be together once more,
When all of the ships come back to the shore,
I realize something I’ve always known,
I still call Australia home.

But no matter how far or how wide I roam,
I still call Australia, I still call Australia,
I still call Australia home.

Even though Australia day doesn’t really mean anything to me, here in Canada it gave me pause to think about what it means to be an Aussie, and it did make me feel homesick for that sunburnt country.

There are lots of songs and poems which I do identify with, that do speak to something deep inside me, a nationalistic pride I suppose.

But then I remember how out of place I feel when I’m there. Is that something I’ll grow out of? Will I ever truly feel as though I belong there?