Friendship and Flicks
Tales of volunteering for the Sydney Film Festival continue
In addition to films – I ended up watching ten of them – my work for the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) was paid for in the currency most valuable to me: new friends. There’s nothing quite like bonding over making it through a hectic, 12-day, 157-film festival.
In a nutshell, my job, with two other gals, was to set up the three venues every morning with posters, pictures, reviews and updates about the films playing that day and in the coming days. It required a lot of running around – especially the first few days as we developed a system – and what I liked to call arts and crafts: cutting up the reviews and mounting them on colored paper for a cleaner look. In the grand scheme of a film festival, it wasn’t a job as important as, say, delivering film to the right theater and getting the movie playing. But, I told myself, I was working for the people; the public saw what I did every day, and perhaps it helped them choose the right films to watch. I cared about doing well and was proud of my contribution.
I was working for the Research and Materials Coordinator, Zane. We got along right away; he’s super laid back and friendly. In addition to being responsible for the venue materials, he was charged with supervising the photographers and podcasters at all the events. So he was most pleased to leave us to do our work, and did it feel good to be busy that first day. Something to do! A purpose to my day! And the autonomy was a nice reminder that I’m capable of being a valuable team member in a professional environment.
One of the girls I was working closely with was Steffi from Cologne, Germany. The production company she works for back home sends their apprentice employees overseas for temporary assignments to gain international experience. She’s lived in New York for six weeks working at a German news magazine and was already halfway through her month and a half assignment here with the SFF. After a few long days together, Steffi and I became very friendly. I’m not sure when I’ll be in Europe next (although a friend is moving to Italy this fall … hmmm), but when I get there I’ll certainly look her up and hopefully we’ll catch up over a nice German brew.
On the third to last night of the festival, I made it home relatively early and met a few friends to catch up over a glass of wine. One of them asked me if I’d met anyone I thought I’d continue hanging out with after the festival ended. I told her I thought I’d have a more definitive answer once the wrap parties started and everyone had time to relax and just be social. Luckily, I was exactly right. On the last couple days, I started chatting with Alex, and we saw a couple of movies together. She’s Canadian, but lived in Manhattan for four years while attending NYU film school and then lived in Hawaii for a while before coming over here. We had a lot in common. She’s more of a film geek than I am, but we bonded over Broadway when we went to see Every Little Step together.
Over the previous few weeks Alex had become friends with Megan, who’s English but grew up in Bermuda. (Maybe we were all attracted to the island vibe we share.) On closing night of the festival, we stuck pretty much together for the celebratory drinks after the last film. We had a great time observing everyone outside of the office and taking advantage of the company tab at the bar. Okay, by observing, I mean checking out the guys. It was great to have a couple girls to laugh with and assign silly nicknames to said guys, like Dolphin Boy and Ticketmaster. But I think we were most stoked to get each other’s numbers to widen our circles of friends in Sydney.
In this week since the festival ended – arguably the laziest week of my life – we caught a movie (yes, at one of the theaters I had been at 14 days in a row … we had to wean ourselves off the festival, I suppose), got a mani-pedi, pre-gamed for the official wrap party and all slept at Megan’s afterwards, spending the entire next day just hanging out and watching guilty-pleasure TV. When we arrived at the party and the festival CEO saw us, he said, “Oh, the gang’s all here!” How fun to have new group of pals to do girlfriendy things with.
At the risk of sounding smug, I’m so pleased that my selfish goal for volunteering was so thoroughly achieved. I worked my butt off for a few weeks, but the rewards were absolutely worth it.
Read Megan’s last blog: Volunteering at the Sydney Film Festival