Monday, January 19, 2009

Six Degrees of Desperation

The first two days of Sundance, for me, sucked ass. Why? Because I’m in a new management position, don’t know WTF I’m doing, and in my capacity I had to have a lot of face time with angry people who feel that their inability to properly navigate the space-time continuum between their residence/hotel room and the theater constitutes an emergency and/or exception on my part.

I know that’s a lot to process. I’ll make it easy on you. They were late, the film was oversold, and when they did finally arrive, late, there was no place for them to sit. Now, if I had the ability, using only my mind, to arbitrarily enlarge a building and make seats appear (or, on the converse, make people in seats “Poof” and fade away like wisps of smoke) I guarantee you that I would not be a carriage driver or a Sundance volunteer. I would be working my jolly way to world domination.

Anyway, this has been the scenario for the last few days:

Angry patron, waving her finger (complete with carefully applied Lee Press-On nail) in my face: “But I have a ticket”

Slave Driver, wearing a poker face, nodding sympathetically, repeating the same litany over and over while simultaneously watching cartoons in her head, which is where her “happy place” is: “Yes, but as stated on the back of your ticket, right under ‘No Refunds, exchanges, transfers, or resale’s permitted’ it also says the following:

Ticket holder must be seated 15 minutes prior to scheduled start time or seat may be forfeited. Event not rated. Viewer discretion advised. Ticket and privileges may be revoked at any time for any reason without liability to Sundance institute from any claims resulting from attendance. The likeness of this ticket and any Sundance Trademarks may not be used without the express written consent of the Sundance institute.’

All right, now that the legal jargon is out of the way, here is the deal. Sundance is a film festival where the films are shown and tickets are sold on spec. If the film showing sucks, the buzz will get around and the theater will be empty. If the reason you want to see a particular film is because everybody who has seen it says that it kicks ass, then guess what? We’ll be filled and then some. So, patrons are required to be in their seats 15 minutes prior to the films scheduled start time. Many people arrive late, and if we have room we seat them. If not, we’ll refer to the back of the ticket. And I offer the customer complaint line phone number. But still, they think it is our fault and thus direct their rage at me, my volunteer staff, other people in line, and whoever else will listen. If there was a puppy in the lobby they would probably kick it. There was a mob that gathered in the lobby Saturday night, and I was watching for pitchforks and torches to appear.

Oh well. So the first two days sucked.

Sunday, however, was great.

As a full time volunteer I have credentials that allow me to, if volunteer tickets are available, see any film I want for free, saving me $15 for each film.

So far, I’ve seen one. And I didn’t like it.

Sunday I went in early, burned a bag of popcorn in the volunteer lounge’s microwave, almost setting off the fire alarm (that would have been very bad) got in line to received a ticket for “Taking Chance”. Directed by Ross Katz and starring Kevin Bacon, is it a moving and powerful film about the true story of a Marine who volunteers to escort the remains of a young soldier killed in Iraq back home for burial. This film is about respect, and I highly recommend it. Written by Lt. Col. Michael R. Strobl (ret)It will premier on HBO Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 8pm.

When the film was finished I had 13 minutes left before my shift began, so I ducked out before the Q & A, walked backstage (I hold a managers position, I get to do stuff like that and no one questions me) and was able to tell Kevin Bacon that the film was fantastic and he did an outstanding job. I don’t fawn, but I like to give compliments when they are deserved.

KB, by the way, is tall (okay, Tina, one of my cohorts, said “He’s not tall,” but I’m 5’4”, Tina is 6’. So, yeah, to her he’s not tall.) And he is very thin. And nice, which was refreshing.

After my shift started we were graced with musician Randy Granger who plays Native American flutes and also a percussion instrument called a “Hang Drum”. I enjoyed Randy’s music enough that I borrowed cash from a volunteer and purchased two of his CD’s.

Then, Robert Townsend arrived to intro his Film “Why we laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy”. I’ve been a fan of his for a while and, since he had almost 25 minutes to kill, suggested he might wander over and enjoy listening to Randy. Well, the two hit it off, with Robert asking Randy questions about the different flues and Hang/Hapi drums, culminating with them playing an impromptu duet.

The film is based on a book by Darryl Littleton, who brought copies of it along to sell after the screening. We chatted for a while and as he was leaving he asked, “Did you get a copy of my book?”

I felt bad because I had not purchased one but I had already borrowed $20 from Linda and I was running out of people to mooch off of, so I had to tell him “No.”

He handed me a copy and said “Now you do.” which was very kind. I started reading it when I got home last night. The book is excellent.

So to sum it all up:

Two days filled with crabby customer, one day with a great film, nice actor, fabulous musician, engaging director, interesting and kind author. It all evens out in the end.

Plus now my Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is at 1


Anonymous said...

Great report, Driver! Love the press-on nails. Your Degree of Robert Townsend is also 1. Glad you had a good Sunday. Hope you are getting enough material for several more posts.

Belle's personal assistant said...

MMMMM Bacon. Yep, I saw Wild Things. I know Slave Driver... She has met Bacon... Ooooo, Aaaaah, OOOOOh.

tioness -- female cross between a lion and a tiger.

Lisa Deon said...

So,BPA, that makes your Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon 2.

orangehands said...

Great post.