My last experience as a volunteer in a film festival was also my favorite. I got to work for a very small and new festival but with an important message: the Melbourne Women in Film Festival. This festival is only on its second year, but I already had my eyes on it since its first edition. Although I had just gone back to Brazil after spending a few weeks in Melbourne when the festival took place in 2017, the vision of the festival caught my attention. So, when I moved to Melbourne this year I knew I had to volunteer for them.
I checked their website and contacted them through their online platform and I soon heard back from one of the organizers that told me they needed someone to work on one of the sessions. The job was very simple: I had to stay outside the box office wearing a shirt from the festival, so people could come to me in case they had any questions and also, so I could direct them to the correct theater room and the guest list. A few minutes before the film started I went to the theater to hand out a survey to the viewers. Once the film started and we had closed the doors of the theater room, I got to sit down and watch the film – which was great. At the end, I went to the exit door, so I could thank everyone for coming and collect the surveys.
During all this time I was accompanied by one of the organizers who was helping and guiding me. Getting to work closely to some of the organizers was probably one of the highest points of this experience as I got to talk and know a little more about the festival’s vision and the organizers themselves. Not only was this festival trying to put women in the center of the narrative, but it was also organized by a great group of women who I had the pleasure to meet and work with.
The only downside to this experience was the fact that I only contacted the festival a few days before it started and for that reason they only needed a volunteer for one of the film sessions. I was very lucky to get this opportunity, but I wish I could have done more. Next year, I’m definitely applying to volunteer in advance.
So, this was a brief overview of my experiences volunteering for film festivals. I hope I got to show a bit of the differences between each festival. Personally, I loved being a part of big film festivals. However, working for a smaller – but growing – festival was a more pleasant and interesting opportunity because I had much more contact with the organizers and I believe that is the ultimate goal for anyone working or wanting to work in the film industry.
Festivals are amazing platforms to get access to films that you might not have access to in any other situation. There are many different festivals out there with different subjects, themes, focus and sizes. I only got to experience a very few number of them. Thus, I would love to hear everyone else’s experiences as well.