For those that may not know . . . I’m an event guy. Promotions, field marketing, running event operations–for some weird reason I like doing these sorts of things. And after a while of doing it, I’d like to think that I’m pretty ok at it. So naturally when I decided to volunteer for this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival I thought, why didn’t I do this sooner?
Generally in the past my schedule has been really hectic, leaving me with scant opportunities to actually see films at the festival. Why then decide to volunteer this year when I usually only have limited availability anyway? Well, it’s mainly because volunteering at the festival takes two things that I like (movies and working events) and combines them together. While it won’t be easy balancing the time issues (from Sunday, October 17 through Sunday, October 24 I’ll be packing in the hours at the movies till the late hours) I’ve come to realize that sometimes you just need to make time for these types of opportunities.
Here’s some of the things I learned my first day on the job on HIFF’s opening night:
You meet and work with interesting people.
From the people that are in charge of you, to your fellow grunts, to the people that you’re assisting at the event–you definitely meet and work with a lot of interesting people, and HIFF is no exception. From the moment I checked in on Thursday evening everyone that I dealt with was pretty nice and cordial. Slowly though as my shift went on, I slowly got a feeling for people, their personalities, and their demeanors. In many ways it was like the first day of school where you try to figure things out. Also like any first day, you slowly figure out who you’d like to be “friends” with. That first night I met and worked with two really great people and I hope I get to see or work with them again in the coming days. Both of them had great attitudes and had one or two years of HIFF experience under their belts (only their 2nd & 3rd years working the festival). Talking, joking, sharing stories, and working together definitely made the time pass by faster.
Of course with any volunteer job, you always run into people who are “characters.” Now this isn’t a bad term, but there are always those whose personality definitely shines bright. Sometimes this could be a good thing, and sometimes this can be a bad thing, but it always adds color to your volunteer experience when you work with these individuals. My experience at HIFF wouldn’t be as fun or as memorable if these people weren’t involved as well.
No matter what the event, things always get hectic.
You would think the life of a ticket taker is easy. Believe me when I say it’s not. For Thursday night’s big opening night film, two 400 seat house were made available for the film Under the Hawthorn Tree. Needless to say that is a lot of people. Now, while our job responsibilities are relatively straightforward, when you have a ton of people bombarding you (half of which don’t speak your language) any job can get overwhelming. My job was simple in theory, when people come to enter the theater it was our job as volunteers stationed there to 1) take their tickets, rip them, and return their stub to the patrons, and 2) to give them a ballot to vote on the film they were seeing.
Well, when the lines started coming in it seemed like it was a cattle stampede. People seemed to move by in a blur and I made sure I did my best to rip tickets in a timely fashion, but when you’re dealing with such a huge mass of people, slow downs are bound to happen. However, I did my duty as best I could, ripping tickets and all the while explaining to people why we needed to do it, providing instructions, and making sure to do it all with enthusiasm in my voice and a smile on my face. What can I say, I’ve already explained that I’m an event guy–I love this stuff. So yeah, taking tickets for a movie . . . not as easy as one might think.
Show up to work, but be sure to enjoy yourself.
I can’t stress this enough. As a volunteer you’re there to work as your first priority–anything else after that should be gravy. It also means being open to do any job you’re called on to do. Through all of the work though, be sure to talk to your fellow volunteers, get to know them, make jokes when appropriate, and above all–be able to laugh at hilarious situations you guys find yourselves in. During the down time that I had on Thursday night, I did my best to talk with fellow volunteers. You know, the typical getting to know you stuff, but after a while you tend to bond with your fellow works and start to get a feel for people. As I mentioned earlier, I met and got to work with two really great people. It wasn’t long before we started trading jokes with one another and were having a great time . . . even though we were working. Work might be work, but it doesn’t have to feel that way.
So those are just a few stories that I have to share from my first night of working HIFF. Who knows what kinds of interesting stuff will happen tonight . . .