Saturday, April 14, 2007

Part 2: The Work.

Overexcited, I showed up too early. The woman at Monona Terrace’s main desk looked at me with surprise when I asked. I got there when Skyler, the projectionist, was testing out the clips.

After wandering around a while, and a little side trip to Starbucks, I found another volunteer. We talked a bit and I eventually ended up calling the main Festival office with my cell to try to figure out what was going on. It turned out our shifts were scheduled well in advance of our first showing, and we had plenty of time to do what we needed. I shouldn’t have worried.

We were housed in the Lecture Hall at the Monona Terrace, the same place where Michael Feldman hosts What d’Ya Know on the weekend. In fact, the What D’Ya Know show was going to be held the next day, and we were warned that we had to clean up our materials thoroughly or they might be thrown out.

There were 7 of us. We stood around a lot, and waited for people to show. I ran the cash box and sold tickets. I eventually relented and let another volunteer do it because he looked so bored. I was going to be there until midnight; I had plenty of time to do all of the jobs that needed doing….

All of our showings that day were two films together. The first was a duo about Cajun fiddling called It’s In the Blood, and one about dancing called Everybody Promenade. They showed the “Everybody Promenade” first, much to everyone’s surprise. Evidently, they usually show the shorter clips first in this sort of situation, and no one knew that. The filmmaker for the longer show “It’s in the Blood”. There was a question and answer session afterwards.

As we hung out, a staffer from the Isthmus approached for a press pass. As I turned to check exactly how to do this, he asked, “Excuse me, but are you Sara Ziemendorf?”

“Yes, I am.”

“I read your blog. I enjoy it very much.”

Okay. That has never happened to me. Ever. Wow.

One of the other volunteers piped up. “Sara, are you famous?”

And then I explained about the blog you are now reading, and how it gets linked to from different sources, and how the Daily Page runs a Miscellaney page where local blogs are showcased.

I actually talked a bit to the staffer later, and told him how much like their website. It really is my first source for my local news; and it is really well designed and easy to use.

Yes, it was a bit of a mutual admiration society, but it was fun.

The shift sped on. The second film was part of the Rehabilitation Psychology Series. One movie, Cost of Living, is about a man who has no legs who is a dancer. Still. And the fact that he has no legs is not really what the story is about. Also, paired with that was a movie called When Pigs Fly, which is the unconventional story of a paraplegic who has turned her home into a pig sanctuary.

I was able to see a few minutes of the second movie, the one about the pigs and the paraplegic woman. It was crazy to see her take on so much, to neglect herself, to care only about the pigs to the neglect of anyone else. It was a sad story.

The movie ran long. I stood at the entrance of the theater, checking my watch every couple of minutes, as the people for the next movie queued up. When the movie finally ended, the directors took the stage to answer a few questions. I stood there trying to hope for them to hurry it along; but the story of this woman in a wheelchair had been so powerful, and so much concern was expressed for her wellbeing. One of the questions? Has this film been shown to the TV show “Extreme MakeOver: Home Edition”? It had. Not sure they’d want to make over a pig farm, but that’s my two cents.

I pushed the audience out and signaled for us to start letting in the next movie; this one was the last showing of the night, and a duet of movies about “balls”. Ball Saved was a short about pinball game enthusiasts. But the last movie, Sportsfan, was the one that I really wanted to see. A movie bankrolled by Jon Stewart (among others) about the fans of the Minnesota Vikings during a typical season. The season of the “Love Boat”. It was pretty hysterical; I am afraid that I saw a lot of myself in some of the fans…like the ones who scream at the television during the game.

It was late. We got the money counted, the papers all socked away for tomorrow, and then we slipped in and watched the movie. When the lights went up, the filmmakers of both movies came up and answered questions. To highlight the differences of these two movies? “How much did each of your movies cost?”

Ball Saved: $800 or so.
Sportsfan: $100,000+

Well, Sportsfan was over the course of a whole season, and they filmed many hours of fans. The NFL wouldn’t let them use stadium footage taken during the game in the movie, so you see a lot of people at home enjoying the game on the TV. Funniest was a man who was debating possibly having to accompany his pregnant wife to the hospital in case she went into labor, or the fact he got press passes to get to go see the NFL draft. “I already have two kids,” he muses, “but I’ve never had press passes to see the draft before.” Yes, it’s kind of crazy.

The long day was over. I enjoyed my shift and will enjoy my next one on Saturday too. More later.

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