Posts Tagged ‘volunteers

03
Nov
11

HIFF 2011: Hodgepodge & Festival Wrap Up

I know, I know, I’m still writing stuff on HIFF. It’s such a huge film event here in Hawaii that it warrants a lot of coverage by a movie blog based in Hawaii. I promise you though that this will be pretty much the last post on this year’s festival. So please, bear with me as I put down a few more thoughts on the closing days of HIFF 31 in order to try and wrap things up.

Final Entry into the Diary of a HIFF Volunteer

So my last day/s of volunteering didn’t provide as much writing material and hence, this small section is going to close out my experience working as a volunteer at this year’s festival. The one thing I did want to mention again, is that you can end up working with some really cool people as a volunteer.

HIFF volunteers direct festival attendees to the appropriate theater.

On the lone Tuesday night of the festival, I was put into this team of three and we were posted at theater 12. Sadly I can’t remember my teammates names, but it was me, this other guy that I had worked with on Saturday, and this girl. I don’t know how it came up, but it eventually came out that we were all the same age as we were all born in 1980. I mean, I’m sure the odds of something like that happening were way more possible than say me winning the lottery, but at the time I found it pretty striking. With some common ground between us, we started chatting away as we worked.

Of course, the conversation turned towards where we lived and where we were from. Through all of our conversation up until this point I had just assumed that we were all locals. Nothing that anyone had said would have given me reason to think otherwise. However, the other guy in our group told us that he was originally from Houston, Texas. This sparked an amazing conversation on how he came to be in Hawaii and of his travels around the world.

It started off with the usual questions; we asked him what he was doing here in Hawaii, how long he had been here, where he was before he came here. Come to find out that he was watching his friend’s house while he was deployed. Since his friend had a car as well, he even had a car to get around in. How he got here was pretty cool too (figuratively, not literally). Basically his friend called him up towards the end of last year and asked if him if he wanted to live in Hawaii while he was deployed. At the time he was finishing up his stay in Australia and he didn’t really have anything else to do so he took his friend up on his offer.

Naturally the question of “well what were doing in Australia” came up. This pretty much lead into a whirlwind tour of my teammate’s travels around the world. He told us that he was in Australia for volunteer work and it was through the volunteer service that placed him there that he’d traveled all over. He then told us about his experience volunteering in Ethiopia, what life was like there, and about the Internet cafes they had there. The whole time I was listening I was pretty amazed. He was such a low key guy and he had these interesting stories about where he’d been. He even told us that he was a fugitive in Australia. He got fined for trespassing down there and he was supposed to appear in court. The thing was, his court date was a week or two after his flight to Hawaii. He said they’d probably never let him back into the country for skipping town, but he wasn’t heartbroken about it since he had already seen the country and didn’t really need to go back.

Teammates, volunteers, festival friends, call them what you will. You meet these people possibly one night out of the festival and never see them again till the spring or the following year. Working with a good group of people will make the time just fly by while working with not so great people . . . well, let’s just say that’ll probably make for some fun stories. Whatever the case may be, you’re going to meet interesting people when you volunteer at HIFF.

George Clooney at HIFF

The George Clooney cardboard cutout was a big hit on the final night of the festival.

Going into the festival, I (along with everyone else) knew that Descendants director, Alexander Payne, was going to be here for closing night. It was reported by the Star-Advertiser and other media outlets. Hollywood film, shot in Hawaii, about Hawaii, and the director was going to be here to receive an award and talk about the film . . . yeah, even before the festival started you knew closing night was going to be crazy.

What I wasn’t expecting though, was the rumor mill buzzing about how George Clooney might be coming to the festival as well. I heard people talking about this from opening night! No one really knew for sure if he was coming, but it seemed as if everyone had heard from someone that an effort had been made to bring him out here. Now I’m sure Clooney was reached out to and asked to attend, however from the way people were talking about it, it seemed as if everyone thought he would make an appearance and that it was just this secret that was under wraps.

I knew from the beginning that Clooney wasn’t going to be here. There’s no way something like that could be kept a secret, it would have been reported somewhere. And also, this isn’t Telluride or Comic-Con where stuff is kept secret up until the moment it happens. No, if Clooney was coming, everyone would know.

Fast forward to closing night. I didn’t know it as we walked through the lobby, but George Clooney did show up for this year’s HIFF. He was in the lobby in front of the HIFF sponsor backdrop posing for pictures with guests. Ok, well, it wasn’t the real George Clooney, it was a cardboard cutout of him. It was really fun to see everyone wanting to take their pictures with the cutout and I thought it was a really great way to use the buzz surrounding the rumors of his appearance to engage festival attendees.

So just how did the festival get “Clooney” to show up? Festival director Joshua Nye said he had a brainstorm Friday night about the Clooney cutout and rushed out to get it made in time for the closing night film on Sunday.

Thoughts on The Descendants

And what of the closing night film itself? Call me a homer, but I loved The Descendants. I thought Clooney was great in the lead role of Matt King and I especially liked the relationship that he had with his daughters. Overall I thought the entire ensemble cast did good job, even down to Matt Lilliard who, when I saw his name come up in the opening credits I was like, “Ugh, not the guy from Scooby Doo!” However, I thought he had a great understated performance that didn’t make me think about his previous roles.

During the post film Q&A with director Alexander Payne, he talked a lot about how he wanted to get things right about Hawaii and even went so far as to live here for a few months before shooting began to get a good feel for Hawaii. All of Payne’s hard work definitely shows in the film. The way that our local lifestyle is depicted, from family gatherings, right down to the main character of Matt King–everything felt pretty authentic to me. I personally don’t know anyone like Matt King, but there are people like that here. They may not look local, or they may not act local, but they ARE local. And it was things like that that I appreciated from the film.

Anytime you have a film with George Clooney claiming Hawaiian, I’ll take that movie any day of the week. So yeah, like a lot of other locals, I really enjoyed The Descendants and I’m putting it in my Top 10 films of 2011.

Closing Thought’s on this Year’s Festival

Overall I had a really great experience this year, from both working as a volunteer and as a festival goer. If I had to say, I think I enjoyed more of the festival this year than I did last year. From the perspective of the blog, I definitely covered more than I have in the past. Things were really going good in the beginning when I had five or six days of consecutive posts and for a brief time I thought I could keep that pace. Sadly though reality eventually set in and I decided to choose sleep (and other real world responsibilities) over posting.

As for the final count of films that I saw, I believe the count stands at seven:

  • Paradise Broken
  • 6B
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
  • Knots
  • Bullhead
  • The Descendants

Though I didn’t get to see everything that I wanted to, which would have been physically impossible, I do know which films I want to look out for should they make their way to theaters within the next few month or appear on Netflix.

One takeaway from this year’s festival that will stand out for me is what local filmmakers are doing here in Hawaii. I’ve always been hesitant to check out local productions only because for such a long time there hasn’t been anything all that great. From commercials to the stuff on OC16, there is a lot of locally produced stuff that is really lame, kinda cheesy, or just plain tacky–and it was because of all of this that turned me off from local productions. Paradise Broken changed all that. It made me realize that we do have people who are doing great things in Hawaii. Like anything else, some things are going to be better than others and if you search for it, you will find quality work and storytelling going on here.

So I think that’s going to do it for this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival. Definitely some good times. If you enjoyed the festival this year or if you have anything to add, go ahead and hit me up in the comments.

—————————————

Catch up with other closing thoughts from this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival from other local bloggers:

17
Oct
11

HIFF 2011: Diary of a Volunteer-Oct 13 & 15

What kinds of stuff can you expect as a HIFF volunteer? People, all kinds of people.

So I was a little hesitant to bring this feature back, mainly because I did this last year and didn’t want to just rehash stuff I had already written. However, when you work enough events there’s something you begin to realize, you can put on the same event again and again, and always have a different experience each time. I should have known there’d be new stuff to talk about from HIFF 31.

A Great First Night
I really had a blast working the opening night of the festival. It was mainly because I got assigned to an awesome team. The other guy in our group was really outgoing and it definitely made for lively conversation while we worked. It just so happened that my team member also made friends with another woman who was with a different team, but during our downtime she sat with us and we all talked story about who we were, why we were all there, what we wanted to see, and of course, about other volunteers (more on that to come). It was somewhat funny that I was the veteran of the group since it was the first time for all of them working the festival, myself only having started just last year. In any case, the night seemed to fly by and I have to admit, I was a little sad to loose my team as I had no idea if I would be working with any of them for the rest of the festival. We all said goodbye and made our separate ways home.

Team 18 on opening night of HIFF 31.

Why Volunteers Should Work the First Night of HIFF
This is something that I only sort of realized this time around: it’s actually a good idea to work the opening night of the festival. I know everyone’s schedule is different, but if you can help it, you’ll definitely get a lot out of it, especially if you’re a first timer.

One of the biggest reasons why you want to work the opening night of HIFF . . . you get your volunteer shirt in the size you want it in. As the festival goes on, there’ll be those who won’t get a shirt in their size or worse yet . . . they won’t get a shirt at all. All that can be avoided by working the first night to ensure that you get one.

Another good reason to work the opening night . . . it’s the only night of the entire festival with the least amount of films playing. It’s the perfect way to “ease into” volunteering at the festival. With the exception of the opening night film (The Front Line) I don’t think any of the other films that played that night were sold out. With only one big film of the night playing, it kind of makes the workload easier to handle. Also, another reason things are sort of calm, the opening night gala tends to draw people (sponsors, directors, actors, talent, and other important people) away from the opening night. Less big wigs = less to worry about.

When Volunteers Go Rogue
I talked about this last year, but sadly it’s always going to be a recurring theme when you have free labor–you always have people that just don’t know how to follow the rules. Sadly, I wasn’t expecting to encounter someone like this so soon.

So to set tone, in our orientation earlier in the week, everyone was told a number of different things about being a volunteer. For time saving purposes I’ll cut to the chase–volunteers aren’t supposed to watch movies while working a shift. Fast forward to opening night. I’m working with my team and we were on a break, sitting around just talking story when we heard this older woman walking down the hall waving her ticket in the air. The funny thing was, she was a volunteer. I had seen her working earlier with a team and she had her volunteer shirt on, but now she was wearing another shirt over that, one that buttoned down the front.

Well when we saw her this time, she had her outer shirt buttoned up like she was off duty or something. Who did she think she was, Superman or something? Was her buttoned up shirt her civilian clothing? Did she think that by opening that up to expose her volunteer shirt would put her “on duty?” Whatever the case was, she was basically trying to hide the fact that she was a volunteer.

As she walked by us she was loudly pronouncing that we shouldn’t worry because she bought tickets to see a movie and that she had spent $8 on those tickets. On her entire march towards her theater, she kept making it known to the rest of us that she had paid for her tickets. Everyone in my group just looked at each other and kind of just laughed at her.

Obviously she had signed up to volunteer tonight, but I guess was confronted about seeing a movie on shift, hence she bought a ticket to the film she wanted to see–as if this was a way to get around this. We all just kind of had to shake our heads at this woman. Why sign up to work a shift at all if you’re going to go see one of the films–just don’t work. It’s as simple as that in my opinion. What I think happened was, this woman is a longtime volunteer and from what I’ve noticed, they are the ones that have trouble complying with the newer rule about not watching films while on shift. Hence her justification about buying a ticket (as if that made everything ok).

Why the Volunteer Shirt is So Important

A closer view of the nice and blue HIFF 31 volunteer shirt.

I signed up for the afternoon shift on Saturday and reported for duty wearing the volunteer shirt. When I got to my assigned theater, I noticed that I was kind of the only one that had the volunteer shirt on. There were other volunteers there, but they were wearing only regular clothes. What I noticed started happening was that I was fielding a number of questions from patrons while those volunteers wearing plain clothes were getting passed by. It was actually pretty funny to see as people would just blow past other volunteers and come straight to me for questions.

The reason for this was because I was the only one at that time that had a volunteer shirt on. People knew to come to me because I was there to help out. This year’s shirts are blue and they definitely help you to stand out from the crowd (a nice colored shirt tends to do that). Sure there were other volunteers there wearing volunteer badges, people still came to me because I was more easily identifiable. I also think I got a lot of questions because people are trained to seek help from someone in uniform as opposed to someone wearing plain clothes. I mean think about it, if you were out on the street and you saw a mailman, fireman, or policeman, wouldn’t you be more inclined to ask them for assistance rather that other people that just happened to be on the street?

So, like I said, the volunteer shirt is definitely key. And since it’s so key, wearing it is a big responsibility–people expect you to have answers. Even if you don’t have the answer, you need to figure out how to get them to someone who has the answer. Probably the biggest thing is to just consult the back of the volunteer badge and look at the schedule. Everything’s pretty much there; when things are playing, what theater they’re in. Knowing that alone will definitely help out.

Also, since the shirt is important, you definitely need to find a way to wash it when necessary. You may be able to get away with wearing the shirt a night or two without washing it, but at some point you will have to, so just recognize that early on. This isn’t baseball, you don’t just keep wearing the same shirt because you’re on a hot streak. Best thing to do if you need your shirt the next day, throw it in the wash with some other clothes (doesn’t have to be a lot) and put it on the fastest wash cycle. Then when it’s done, just throw everything in the dryer before you go to bed. Though it might be a little wrinkled in the morning, at least that’ll be better than wearing it stink the next day.

Other Stuff From Saturday

Short Staffed–When I checked in on Saturday I was about 5-10 minutes late. I looked for my name on the sign in sheet and I realized that more than half of the volunteers that were supposed to work today haven’t showed up yet–not a good sign. Sure enough as the afternoon progressed the effects of volunteer no shows could be seen–captains and other staff members had to pick up the slack. Those of us that were there were asked if we could work an extra shift to help out. One guy said he could while myself and another guy said we couldn’t. I had already purchased tickets to see Elite Squad (my most anticipated film of the festival) and so there was no way I was going to miss seeing that. If I didn’t have tickets, I definitely would have stayed to help out. Sadly I couldn’t.

When Volunteers Go Rogue II–So that lady I talked about in the first part of this post was there again on Saturday, and she was up to her old tricks. I didn’t realize she was “working” since halfway through the shift I saw her coming out of a film. Of course she had her shirt buttoned up again. I wondered to myself if she had paid for her ticket again or if she just went rogue and snuck in. In any case, a few minutes later I see her talking to HIFF executive director Chuck Boller. It looked like she was complaining to him, about what I can’t be sure. The only thing I overheard her say was something like, “we shouldn’t have to stand for that.” Whatever it was, I just had to shake my head at her again.

I really dislike people like that. For one thing, if you have any problems talk to the people that are in charge of us, not the top guy of the whole festival. Cutting to the top of the chain of command to complain about something is just weaksauce. Now on the other hand, she might have actually known Chuck (though I highly doubt it). However, if this was the case, why does she need to volunteer if she knows him? She’d be a ‘priority line’ type of member if she really did know him, which would also mean she wouldn’t have to volunteer to see a film anyway. In any case, Chuck listened to what she had to say, kind of said something like he’d look into it, and then went on to the next thing he needed to be at.

All in all, it was a pretty good first couple of days of the festival. As we head into the middle stretch of the festival I hope to see previous teammates and festival friends from last year. Oh yeah, and a few more films too!

26
Oct
10

HIFF 2010: Diary of a HIFF Volunteer-Oct 21&23

The longer you work, the more your eyes start to play tricks on you.

Well, the 2010 festival is officially in the books, but I’m still got a few more posts to crank out before I can put a bow on it all. Here’s stuff that happened from my final two nights of working the fest:

My first time breaking a sweat . . . occurred on my fourth night of duty.
For whatever reason, the schedule for the night started falling behind. Not sure if it was due to a late start for a couple of films, but I know that a contributing factor was  Q&As for three films in different theaters going into overtime. When this happened, we needed to turn over all of these theaters as fast as possible. A centerpiece film’s Q&A went on until 10 minutes before the next film in that theater was to start. Of course by the time we actually got in we had to blaze through it. Almost immediately after that, we had to turn over Theater 12–another big theater just as fast. Needless to say I basically ran from one theater to the other running through the rows, flipping up arm rests, and collecting trash. Making sure we can move people, frenetically running through the theaters, trying to keep things on track–it’s the stuff event people thrive on. Luckily through a great team effort we didn’t fall that far behind with the schedule as we could have. Running back and forth, it was the first time I broke a sweat at HIFF. It’s not a real event if you don’t sweat it out (literally) I say.

Ripping ballots . . .

Just like turning in entry forms at UH athletic events, turning in HIFF ballots after the film is different for everyone. There are so many ways that people interpret the procedure that each night I worked I literally encountered a new way of voting. I’ve tried to illustrate a few of the ways above. 1) I believe this is the desired and preferred way of voting, you just tear the ballot a little bit along the line for your rating. Pretty straightforward and simple enough right? You would think! 2) This one confused me the most by far. How am I supposed to know what ranking you gave the film if you tore a whole tab out? It could either be a vote of 4 or 5? Sadly I didn’t count these votes as I was unsure of how to count them, but I threw it into the collection envelope anyway in hopes that someone would recount it all and know how to count it. 3) This was another one that I was puzzled by . . . people would rip their ballots completely in half. Not being sure if this was by accident or not, I held onto these pieces in hopes reuniting them with their other halfs. This was never the case at all. I finally realized people were actively doing this when I was holding the ballot box after a film was getting out and as someone passed by they ripped their entire ballot in half and put the smaller portion in the ballot box to cast their vote. Not being sure how they thought this was a good way to do it, these ballots got counted as well. Another way people voted was by actually writing or circling their choice on the ballots. While still others didn’t know how to vote (even though it says to rip your ranking right on each ballot). Needless to say, for every person there, each had his or her own way to rip their ballot.

New addition at Dole . . . Gelato!

Yes, freshly scooped gelato, now playing at Dole Theaters!

Latest discovery at Dole Theaters. Dunno exactly when they put this thing in, but it was definitely a crowd pleaser. Towards the end of my fourth night working I decided that I was going to have some. I have to say it’s definitely one of the better deals at the concession stand at Dole. They have two sizes (small and large) and while you definitely get your money’s worth for each, I say go with the large. At $4.75, it’s definitely worth getting. There’s 10-12 flavors to choose from and you’re not just limited to getting one flavor in your cup, you can get two or three! The banana heath definitely capped off a fun night of working the fest.

————————————

That Chuck Boller guy . . . He seems pretty cool.
Yeah, he’s the executive director for HIFF and you see him around the festival, but as a grunt in the trenches you never really get to (or expect to) have any interaction with people that are that high above your pay grade (we’re volunteers after all). However, my final night working, I had some interaction with the executive director himself. Now let’s not kid ourselves, I did not have a conversation with the guy. To more accurately put it, I shared in a conversation he was having with someone else–and NO, I did not butt in!

Basically, dutiful as always, I was standing outside a theater 7 taking tickets and passing out ballots when two staff members happen to be hanging outside just chatting before starting the film. Mr. Boller came over and started talking with them about the film that was going to be playing and how he was making his rounds talking with sponsors and things of that sort. Through all of this he was facing all of us and pretty much was conversing with all of us. Then the topic turned to the film Room in Rome and he started making jokes about people asking him if he had a DVD of the movie (you’ll get the joking if you check out the movie description here, but basically the gist is that two women spend the night together in Rome). Needless to say this got a few laughs from our small group. Adding to the joviality of the situation I added, “So is that why it’s the last screening of the night?” (referring to the somewhat explicit content of the film) This too got a few more laughs out of us in the group and as he left he said he would see the two staff members later, but he also thanked me and my fellow volunteer for the good work we were doing. Getting the proverbial “pat on the back.” No volunteer job is complete without it. While I wasn’t expecting him to be harsh or anything like that, from the short interaction that I had with Mr. Boller, he definitely seems like a very calm and easy going guy and definitely friendly with everyone I saw him interact with, myself included.

————————————

Getting kicked out of HIFF . . .
Now, I’ve worked a ton of advance screenings, I’ve been to the movies TONS of times, I’ve been to crowded and sold out shows on Friday and Saturday nights, I’ve been to the movies on the mainland, hell, I’ve even waited over 24 hours in line to see a film (several times in fact) . . . but in all that time, I’ve never seen someone physically kicked out of the theater. The closest probably has been when Ward security took down a woman who touched a security guard the wrong way as she was being escourted out of the line of an advance screening. Never though in all my years of moviegoing have I seen the police needing to be called in to remove someone from the theater. Here’s how it happened . . .

Second to last night of HIFF and I was working in front of Theater 7. This girl comes walking down the hall asking where One Kine Day was playing. While ordinarily this wouldn’t be a strange thing, what did make it strange was that she was speaking really loud-almost shouting. The second thing that made it strange was that she was asking these guys that were sitting on one of the benches in the hall (random moviegoers at Dole) this question. Of course not being here for the festival these guys gave her a blank look. However, since I did overhear her asking this question I told her that One Kine Day was playing in Theater 12 on the opposite side of the theater. She obviously needed more direction so me and my fellow volunteer did our best to direct her to the other side of the theater. After she turned and started walking away, one of the guys that was sitting on the bench blurted out “someone’s alll bussss” loud enough for the girl to hear. She seemed to laugh at this in acknowledgement, but what confirmed this guy’s statement was that she was swaying back and forth as she made her way down to the other side of the theater. If she wasn’t drunk, she was definitely on something. Oh, I also forgot to add that she was 30 minutes late for the film at this point.

Anyway, about 20-30 minutes later I found myself on the other side of the theater near Theater 13 when I overheard some staff members talking about a disturbance in Theater 12 (where One Kine Day was playing). Immediately the girl that we encountered earlier came to mind and I asked what was going on. Apparently a girl/woman was yelling inside of Theater 12 and there were people asking her to leave. Long story short, HIFF staff asked her to leave and she wouldn’t. Dole Theater staff asked her to leave, she wouldn’t. Dole security came down and asked her to leave, she wouldn’t. Finally HPD had to be called in.

After about 20 minutes of this I decided to leave since nothing seemed to be happening. However, as I started making my way out of the theater, HPD finally showed up. Went back to Theater 12 to find out that it was in fact the girl from earlier and that she had actually exited the theater and went into the bathroom. The HPD officer went in there and over the course of the next five minutes there was various levels of shouting going on between the girl and the officer.

This my friends is where the story comes to an end. At this point there was a bunch of people hanging around this area waiting for something to be seen (and uploaded to the Internet) when all of us volunteers were dismissed and asked to leave. Of course we were all a bit disappointed as we were all hanging out to see something happen. However, I decided that this was probably the best idea as who knew how much longer we would have to wait around for something to happen. We were getting off early after all. So while I didn’t actually “see” this girl getting kicked out of the theater, with HPD there I’m sure this girl was asked/forced to leave.

————————————

Definitely a great few nights of working the festival coming away with a few stories to tell. Oh what fun you can have volunteering at HIFF!

21
Oct
10

HIFF 2010: Diary of a HIFF Volunteer-Oct 19

The long hall at Dole . . . it's not for the faint of heart.

Musings and notes from my third night of working HIFF and Day 6 of the festival:

  • Best job–Turning Over a Theater . . . One of the many tasks that theater ops (operations) volunteers are sometimes charged with is “turning over” a theater. This basically involves us going into theaters immediately after a film gets out, going through all the rows picking up trashing and throwing it away, and turning up all the armrests. It’s not a difficult job, but I know some people don’t like to do it because you have to pick up other moviegoers trash. It’s also a pretty critical one as well since the festival runs on a tight schedule and sometimes there may not be a lot of time in between films, so saving a few minutes by having us help clean the theater makes sense.

Why do I think it’s the best job? It’s the best job because you are able to make friends with the Dole theater staff. I had just finished turning over a theater and as I was walking out, two of the theater staff came in to clean up. Now I don’t know if they know that the festival is helping them out on cleanup duties, but they we’re really glad that all they had to do was sweep. Then later that night as me and another volunteer were in the middle of turning over another house, the same two theater workers came in and helped us finished. Afterward, while we were standing outside the theater workers came out and one of them asked us if we wanted anything to drink and offered to get us soda, juice, or water. I just opted for water, but he asked me again if I was sure cause he could get me soda. I told him it was cool. He came back a minute later with two small employee cups of ice water for me. I told him thanks and he turned around and told me, “no, thank you for helping us clean up.” Definitely great to know that we helped them out and that they were appreciative for the help. Oh, and getting cups of water wasn’t too bad either.

  • Problems with Volunteers . . . It never fails when you have free labor, you always have some people that will give you problems, HIFF being no exception. It took till Day 6, but Tuesday night I heard my first gossip from volunteers about other “problem” volunteers. I’m not going to go into details and since I’ve already sort of given my stance on this already, all I have to say is this: people [volunteers] need to realize why we’re there, know what the rules are and abide by them, and have the mentality that we’re they’re to work. If people could acknowledge these simple facts, things would be a lot easier for everyone, whether you’re a volunteers, staff, or festival patron. Believe it or not you can still have fun AND watch movies if you do your job. I have no sympathy for any volunteer that needs to be pulled on the side to be reminded of any of these things.

On the back of every volunteer's pass is a cheat sheet for the day, and it's pretty handy.

  • Cheat Sheets Come in Handy . . . To help us out with running things, on the back of every volunteer’s badge is a small spreadsheet that list all the films that are being shown for the day with tons of information such as: which theaters each film will be in, the running time, when it should start and get out, and a notes section for if people will be speaking before or after a film. It’s super handy as you can kind of plan out where you need to be ahead of time or if you’re just showing up, where a good place to go can be. Also, it helps you direct festival-goers to the right theaters if you’re on the opposite side. Definitely a lifesaver in a pinch.
  • Downtime in a movie theater . . . What do you do when you have 30-40 minutes to kill at a film festival? The obvious answer would be to go watch a movie. While that might be the case for most people, the truth is when there’s nothing you’re terribly interested in to watch, the alternatives aren’t that great. Definitely using the bathroom and sitting down top the list, but after that, the pickings are pretty slim. Eventually I just ended up sitting through the last 25 minutes of Hot Summer Days–mainly because it would be the next film to get out and I could do something productive by turning the theater over afterward. However, from what I did see it was kind of interesting as there were a ton of story arcs going on all at the same time.  Just goes to show you, you’ll never know about a film till you actually watch it (for a little bit anyway).

 

    • Even Our New Mayor Takes in the Festival . . . Yeah, the blurry picture above is of our new mayor Peter Carlisle believe it or not. I didn’t realize it was him till he was pretty much coming through the door, hence the blurry image. I give him props for coming out to the festival. Wonder if he got his sponsor badge before or after he won the election? If it was after, definitely not a bad perk! (I joke of course)

    With another night in the books and only four days left, who knows what else will happen.

    19
    Oct
    10

    HIFF 2010: Diary of a HIFF Volunteer-Oct 17

    Popcorn box full of ripped ticket stubs.

    “Let me take that.” *rips ticket*  “Here you go, enjoy the film.”

    Yes, this is where all your ticket stubs end up . . . in little popcorn boxes on the floor of Dole Theaters. Where do they go after this? Who knows. On opening night they were collected, then Sunday night we were told they weren’t needed so we tossed them. I will say one thing though, whenever you need a container at the theaters, grabbing a popcorn box is definitely not a bad move. They’re quite multi-purpose. They not only hold popcorn/candy/drinks/hot dogs, but they can hold so much more as well.

    More musings after another night working HIFF . . .

    • Still meeting really cool people . . . worked with four, check that-make it five, cool people that I hadn’t worked with before. Same deal, we just introduced ourselves and talked during downtime and by the end of the night . . . everything was cool.
    • I don’t like cliques, never have . . . Call me old fashioned, too work oriented, too serious, or whatever, but I don’t understand why you would work something like this and limit yourself to sticking with your own group of friends. Yeah, I get that since you’re already with your friends, it makes sense that you would stick together and work together if you all decided to come to participate in an event like this. But I feel that this type of “grouping” might alienate you from the rest of the workers. I don’t know, like I said, maybe it’s just me. I don’t see why you can’t work with your friends, but be cool with other people as well. Maybe I’m just weird.
    • Saw old friends . . . Relatively speaking of course. Old as in Thursday night old. One of my “festival friends” that I mentioned in my previous post I saw again last night. She was taking a break and was on the floor seeing what was going on. Another guy I met on Thursday I saw coming out of The Housemaid. Said it was a typical K-drama but got kinda weird at the end. Korean cinema I tell you!
    • You can tell a lot about a film from the last 10 minutes . . . this I now know from firsthand experience. Caught the end of both The Housemaid and Legend of the Fist. While I won’t spoil the endings, from how each film ended, it definitely told me a lot about the tone and style of each film. Why did I just watch the last 10 minutes you might ask? Well, we were waiting to collect ballots before each film got out so some of us went in to check out how the movies were playing. Then right as the film ended we promptly ran out and took our ballot taking positions. Which leads us to this . . .
    HIFF ballots

    Yes, voting is important.

    • Everyone has their own system for counting ballots . . . Myself, I like the tick mark counting system. You know, make four marks and when you get to the fifth one you make a slash through the other four to count five. Well let me tell you, everyone has their own style. Saw someone do the count and write down, but perhaps the craziest one was where this guy I was working with seemingly laid out all the ballots in front of him and did this super quick counting. I don’t exactly know how he did it, but it was right.
    • Parking is horrendous leaving Dole . . . even at 11pm at night. Say everything you want about Dole, there is one thing you cannot deny–leaving the Dole parking structure after a 400 seat house gets out is not fun or quick. Check out the gridlock in the parking lot after the screening of Legend of the Fist got out at around 11pm.  I opted to just stand outside my car to wait till things died down. I can only imagine how much longer this line would have taken to subside if the parking attendant was still working (they were gone by this late hour).
    Cars leaving the Dole parking structure.

    The line to leave the structure . . . between floors five and six.

    All in all another great night working HIFF. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

    17
    Oct
    10

    HIFF 2010: Diary of a HIFF Volunteer-Oct 14

    Shirt and badge issued to HIFF volunteers

    The shirt and badge issued to HIFF volunteers at check in.

    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 . . .




    Red Band Feed

    Contact Red Band Project

    team@redbandproject.com

    We’re on Facebook