What did you do last weekend? See a football game? Started binge-watching that 2nd season of House of Cards you never got around to? Or, did you happen to go to a film festival? Perhaps the New York Film Festival (NYFF)?
If you happened upon the last one, you'd have maybe seen my (dark) blonde little self wandering around. Well, folks, I've been happily wandering around for the past two weeks as an official NYFF volunteer!
"Uh yeah sorry Cameron, but there's like, a film festival happening every weekend in New York. I don't get what makes volunteering at this one any different or special." Hmm, you know, that's a good point, fellow reader. Perhaps I should elaborate.
The New York Film Festival isn't the prestigious, highly-anticipated event of the year it is today just because it's named after its own state. Most every state has its own film festival. But what makes the New York Film Festival one of the more well-known, top film fests in the world is its history of attracting and showcasing independent and international films for over fifty years.
Yeah, it's a pretty big deal. And luckily, I've had the opportunity to take part in this year's 52nd New York Film Festival.
But why volunteer? Besides being apart of a famous historic event, it's also a great place to meet celebrities.
Alright so maybe you're not necessarily kickin' it with the Hollywood stars. But you do get to see plenty of them! And if you're lucky enough, maybe you'll get to organize their tickets. When you're volunteering , it's fairly likely you'll be positioned near a ticket line or waiting area, directing people to the restrooms or the coffee lounge. However, if you volunteer enough and let your volunteer coordinators know you're reliable, then you may get to rush microphones to a press conference with Robert DeNiro or deliver sandwiches to Ethan Hawke and his family.
Of course, I can't guarantee this when you volunteer. Let me just say though, if you ever find yourself grabbing coffees for Owen Wilson, be sure to grab three creamers and two sugars with you.
But volunteering isn't only about seeing the celebrities, it's also about meeting other people.
When you're volunteering, you're working with plenty other volunteers just like you. And chances are, you're spending the majority of your time around these guys. So it figures that I should go ahead and get to know them. I met a girl while I was on shift the other day who had traveled from London just to help out at the fest. In fact, she had been doing it for years along with other film festivals across the U.S. states!
Who knew volunteering was such a big deal, right? Well at the NYFF, it's a big deal, folks. And it's interesting to know what brought these other strangers to the same place. Plus it helps to pass the time when you can talk to someone else while dealing with those ridiculous rush ticket lines.
What's ironic about film festivals is that many people go to them and barely see any movies. Many of the people there are businessmen or artists marketing their own work. This is especially true to the NYFF, which attracts plenty film distributors, studio executives, and content creators across the county. But unlike other film festivals, the NYFF is fairly good at getting you into see some movies.
And boy oh boy, this is the place to see some movies. With all the hard work the volunteers put into making the festival run smoothly, the coordinators let us take a break to get in on the experience. Sure, you may not get a seat for the centerpiece film but there's plenty other films there that you may not see anywhere else. As of now, I've seen about three French avant-garde films, one Italian family drama, a Spanish biopic, and plenty other good American films too! I'd have to say my favorite film of the fest would be the movie, '71 , about the riots in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. It's a quiet yet insanely intense movie that transcends the idea of what a thriller can be. I really hope the movie quotes me on that now.
Anywho, I should probably save my movie critiquing for another day. The fact is, you get to see some unique movies you would of never known existed. And while everyone else is paying that $25 for admission, you get the free pass, friendo. Volunteer perk!
The NYFF has about one more week left until it officially ends for the year. And I have to say, volunteering for the people there has been engaging, crazy, interactive, fun, exhausting, eye-opening, stressful, strange, adventurous, and all of the above. Most of all, it's been an experience. Getting to work around people brought together by the same craft and art is an incredible opportunity within itself. It's always good to work for something you really love doing. I mean if you love doing it, it's not really work, right?
See, even Marion Cotillard agrees with me. And if there's another thing Marion and I can agree on, it's that we'll both be there next year. And you should be there too.