Though this was my fourth year as a festival volunteer, it was my first year as a full-time volunteer in Park City. I worked in theater operations at the Egyptian Theater in Park City my first year, then worked the box office at the Sundance Resort for the past two years because it was a much closer drive. I loved the remote venue and the tight-knit group of people, but I was ready for an immersive experience in the heart of the festival and was free enough to be able to do it this year. I have no idea where I’ll be at this point in my life next year, so I am delighted to have had the opportunity and über-grateful for my encouraging husband who enabled me to have this experience.
I was recruited for a new position called a Festival Insider Pro, which put me exactly where I wanted to be: roaming on Main Street, the heart of the festival. Though I could have done without the “ASK ME” hat (it kept riding up and making it look like I was a Conehead) and the 8-hour mostly outdoor shifts in below-freezing weather, I had a blast.
I qualified for free lodging, so I spent 12 nights in a decent little condo with three roommates (coincidentally all from the DC area) who are now my friends. I shared a room but got my own twin-size bed… I don’t even remember the last time I slept in a twin. The bed was okay, but I slept a lot better after I acquired earplugs to drown out the busy Park Ave. street noise. I’m used to sleeping in a quiet house in quiet suburbia where I’m usually only awakened by the sound of vomiting cats.
My check-in date and first training were on Tuesday, January 18—two days before the official start of the festival. I was exhausted from the week leading up to my travel, which was not the best way to start out the trip. But Park City was pretty quiet upon my arrival.
(Oh, and my arrival was aided by fancy schmancy Google Navigation on my Droid X! Good thing I got the little doohickey that suctions to my windshield to hold my phone at eye-level. Unfortunately, Google Navigation really only helps when you enter the correct address.)
I skipped the two available volunteer film screenings (Bengali Detective and Mad Bastards) that evening in favor of sleep. It was a good choice. Tuesday was full of meeting people, smashing a bunch of learning into my brain, receiving my wardrobe plus accessories, and participating in a trial-run tour of Main Street with the other Main Street Insider Pros. The day looked like this:
My wardrobe consisted of a Kenneth Cole-insignia’d royal blue down vest, which I knew about, and may have partially contributed to my choice of coordinating pink hair… whoops, I forgot to mention that I refreshed it a few days before the festival. It looked sort of this, and my apologies but I was tired and this is the only photo that even came out:
Anyway, all Sundance volunteers received the blue Kenneth Cole vest, a gray hat (sponsored by Chase Sapphire), and a scarf (sponsored by Acura). For my specialty position, I also received a bright pink (it matched my hair!) pin that said “ASK ME,” a dorky white “ASK ME” hat, and a black messenger bag that was printed with “ASK ME” in an orangey-red that was apparently supposed to be pink. Of course I also had a credentials pouch on a lanyard, where I stuck a few buttons over the course of the week. I accepted a special “Jeg Snakker Norsk” button to announce that I speak Norwegian… which came in handy twice during the festival. First time!
All outfitted, I looked something like this:
And you can’t really tell because all of my photos were taken with my Droid (whose 8MP camera is most certainly not as good as my 8MP Canon Powershot or my 8 million MP Canon Rebel that I did not take along) but in this photo I am wearing glamorous blue and silver eye shadow thanks to Isaac in the l’Oreal sponsor room. Well, you probably wouldn’t be able to see it even with a better camera because my eyelids are invisible thanks to genetics. But I’m wearing l’Oreal mascara, which in theory you should be able to see. And please just ignore the yellow shirt underneath because it doesn’t really match. After I saw this photo I made sure that my scarf (which was mine, not the blue-gray one that Acura provided because I actually didn’t get mine until later that week) was tucked into my vest and hiding whatever garishly-colored shirt I wore each day.
With all of these excuses, I wonder why I’m even posting this photo. I don’t know. Maybe because I went to the trouble of putting all the links in the right places, and you should appreciate the time and effort I’ve taken to write this lengthy and not really descriptive post?
Uh-oh, I’m starting to go all Meta and breaking that fourth wall. I think it’s time to wrap up this post and take a breather before starting up part 2.
But at least let me leave you on a positive note from Wednesday before the festival officially started: I attended a volunteer screening of the documentary Being Elmo, which is about Kevin Clash and the puppeteering journey that led him to become Elmo’s alter-ego and a major player on Sesame Street. As a lifelong Muppet fan, I knew I’d love it, but even so I was still impressed and loved it more than I thought I would. When it comes out, you should definitely see it. My favorite part was learning about how, as a teenager, Clash was ridiculed by his peers because he was obsessed with puppets. But he set his skills to use entertaining kids around the neighborhood and started working on a local children’s TV show while still in high school, turning his reputation around. Like most of us geeks, he never forgot what it was like to be labeled different, and that had an effect on how he and his characters developed.
Being Elmo hasn’t been picked up for distribution yet to my knowledge, but when it comes out, trust me that this is a documentary you have to see. I dare you to not get teary-eyed.