Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wandering Wilbo Keeps a Promise to Volunteer at the Traverse City Film Festival, and He Has Awesome Memories Now.

Promises are made to be broken. I broke a promise today. It might not seem like a big deal and yet I signed up for a grip, a shift running from Noon to Five PM today. I got in late from Saugatuck, got up later than Eight and decided to take care of business at my gainful employer. At my desk, I wrapped up program changes quickly and had the day won by 11:30 AM. No way I could make my Noon shift, although I remembered the shift ran until 5 PM. 

Traverse City meant a three and a half hour drive. I supposed I could show up at 3:30 PM and apologize and take work assignments. And I got into my car and motored off, stopping for gas in New Era and a stretch in Manistee. I ignored Kaleva Days in the town named after that book of Finnish folklore. I ignored the new storefront of Wee Bee Jamming, makers of honey, on the shores of the Betsie River. I was driven to drive.

I made Traverse City by 3:30 PM, changed my sandals for work boots and found the City Opera House, and the front door had a sign, "Stage door is open". I found a circle of film festival types smoking cigarettes in a circle, mellow after a good days work, and the folks sent me up the stairs to meet a fellow with long curly red hair with a first name from the British Isles. I was excited because the City Opera House had yet to be open during my visits to Traverse City. And I was going in the stage door. 

The fellow with the red hair was happy enough to see me although work had wrapped for the day. Plenty remained for Sunday at Nine in the morning, Sunday day of rest put aside for a film Fest beginning on a Tuesday. His wife assured me all was well, volunteering being a labor of love, and set me up with a few bottles of water and a pair of sandwiches.

Half the fun of volunteering for film fests is the swag & perks, and I reported to the Park Place Hotel to get a tee shirt and credentials, that piece of paper on a lanyard that gets one into places, not all access but close enough. I asked for an extra extra large shirt and the supply had run out. Michael Moore kicked off this festival, and even though he walks downtown with anyone who shows up and has lost weight, he still has need of a bigger size. So do many of the volunteers apparently. I guess dear daughter can add another daddy shirt to her collection. 

I'm fairly happy to be sharing the load with the army of people making this eight venue festival work. A few of us have chatted, comparing notes on movies to see and events to catch. I've wanted to volunteer ever since the first festival was announced in 2005, and I hope that it doesn't take 10 years to fulfill the many items on my buckets list. 

That's being a bit hard on myself. I assisted in the development of the Mitten Movie Project in Royal Oak, Michigan. I served on the team that volunteered for the first Detroit Docs festival and watched it grow big and then vanish. I even hung with Bart, Texan film promoter with the hand tooled cowboy boots, when I helped out with the Dallas Film Festival. My supervisor had a role as Jacqueline Kennedy in a History Channel re-enactment of the Kennedy Assassination, under the watchful eye of the Book Tower windows. 

Best was watching the door at the tiny Planet Ant Film Festival in Hamtramck, taking tickets with my friend who went out to Hollywood and became a genuine film producer, invited to all the award shows. The black box theater was carved from the first floor of a three story tenement. The yard in back resembled a back yard DIY wedding. We drank secret beers and pretty much let anybody in the door if they pleaded broke. 

It was a fine, fine day.

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