aturally, a few of the writers here at RED Magazine are interested in the Sundance Film Festival, but we’re only allotted one press pass. When you’re not lucky enough to claim rights over the press pass like our dear Jeremy Mathews, editor extraordinaire, you have to suss out a different plan of attack.
||Donating your free time is a surefire way of getting your foot in the Sundance door.
Photo by Josh Caldwell / RED Magazine
At $10 each for a film ticket, Sundance can get pretty spendy. For a student budget, the whole film festival thing isn’t very forgiving, but for those economical, like- minded film fans who lack a press pass and spare cash, there is a solution: become a volunteer. Trust me, becoming a volunteer is much easier than trying to infiltrate the top- notch Sundance security teams: They don’t carry guns, but they have some mean, ninja clipboard skills.
If you want to become a volun-teer, it’s something that you have to think about a few months before the festival starts in January — applications are due in October. There is a whole training process that you must go through, which I won’t go into because it’s pretty boring and simple. Once you’ve made it that far, you’re in for some good times, some real good times, like that one time that I told Al Pacino… well, that’s a tale for a different time.
My experience as a volunteer has had its ups and downs. Both years that I’ve volunteered, there have been problems with getting my credentials. For those of you who don’t know what credentials are, they’re those seemingly important badges that volunteers and festival guests display proudly and sometimes pretentiously about their necks. Admittedly, the badges are a status symbol, but a necessity if you want to get into any of the film screenings without tickets. Along with the cre-dentials come the ticket vouchers. The vouchers can be exchanged for a free movie ticket and occasionally a party invitation. The more hours you volunteer, the more vouchers you receive. As of now, I still don’t have any vouchers for this year, although I’m signed up for quite a few hours. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this will soon be remedied. To be fair, most of the volunteers don’t have this problem. It just seems to be me.
Last year, the weather didn’t take its toll on the poor volunteers who have to stand outside, but this year, as I’m sure you all well know, standing outside in these Siberian weather conditions for long periods of time isn’t on anyone’s top- 10- favorite- things- to- do list. However, the duty does come with the job, as well as a few other unpleasant tasks. Cleaning out sticky movie theaters isn’t one of my favorites, but it isn’t as bad as, say, gutting fish on an Alaskan fishing boat.
It’s not all sweeping and freezing, though. I’ve had a lot of fun as a volunteer. The people at Sundance want everyone involved to have a good time, so they try to help out wherever they can to make sure it is a good experience. Some of the perks are really great. The biggest fringe benefit is the collection of vouchers, which, as I’ve already said, gets you into a screening for free. As a volunteer, you usually receive some rad gear to wear around. This year there are red and black vests, coats and hats provided by Kenneth Cole — not really my style, but I’ve been told that you can get some serious cash for this exclusive merchandise. Please note that the previous sentence was based on he-resay. You also receive a nicely done festival guide, have the opportunity to schmooze with a lot of creative people, learn the basics of being a ninja armed with a clipboard and sometimes you get free popcorn. All in all, it’s not a bad gig.