Most of the people who go to a film festival are cheerful and friendly. They are excited to be seeing new and adventurous films, and they have a camaraderie with other film fans. Some of them have an encyclopedic knowledge of actors, films, and directors and they love sharing what they know. Collectively, they are a bit like a high school clique who all know a lot about something (chess, or information technology, or football) and who love meeting up with the others in their group to swap stories. Just knowing they are not alone in their passions is enough to make them giddy. Since film buffs only get to meet up at film festivals, their joy at meeting each other is palpable. These people are lovely to work with.
Then there are the others.
Some people who go to film festivals will have nothing to do with casual fans of the art. They will be first in line, isolate themselves, talk to no one, take notes, and look very serious. I don’t know who these people are, but I imagine they must be critics who don’t want to be influenced by popular opinion. Otherwise they must just be simply loners; anti-social folks.
The other group who are not a part of the happy hubbub I call the Latelies. They arrive late, they arrive wearing high-end clothing, and they arrive with attitude. They rush in ten minutes after the film has started, get annoyed because they have to pause while their tickets are scanned, and complain that there isn’t enough parking space, or the traffic was bad, or they couldn’t find the right venue. Planning ahead is not their forte, but they are really good at intimidating volunteer staff.
The volunteer staff, on the other hand, become very good at staring blankly at rude people. They will bend over backwards to help the confused, the frail, and the disabled, but they will be less forthcoming with the angry and the pompous. We are sorry your parking validation didn’t work because you used the wrong parking lot, but we can’t fix it. We are sorry that the scanner is sometimes a bit slow, but if you had arrived earlier it wouldn’t be a problem. We are sorry that the signs to the Will-Call desk are confusing, but we didn’t put them up.
Volunteers are well-intentioned and kind. If you find yourself frustrated with something at a festival, please don’t take it out on the volunteers. They don’t get paid enough to put up with your bad manners. In fact the only pay they receive is a ticket to get a ticket. At the end of each shift they get thanks from the theatre manager and a voucher that can be exchanged for a ticket to see a film. That’s all. So, if you are mean to them they won’t volunteer again next year.
And now I think I know why there are fewer volunteers this year. Last year there must have been too many Latelies and not enough Lovelies.