On Friday (22nd Feb) I took another visit to St Albans to check in with what was going on with the St Albans Film Festival. I went along to gate crash the volunteer’s briefing that I knew was happening that day to meet some of the many volunteers keeping the festival ticking along and to find out what has motivated them to do so.
This year the Festival hasn’t received the funding to pay staff, and so is reliant on volunteers to work over the weekend of the 8-10 March. This includes helping with workshops, directing guests to the locations on the day, and selling tickets.
From the looks of the number of people in the room for the briefing (there was more volunteers than chair space and people were sitting on cushions on the floor!) there are plenty of people out to support the festival, which has been funded in large part by the festival director herself, Leoni Kibbey.
Like all first-time events, the planning is not without its hiccups; in this case it’s the arrival of the volunteer uniforms. In-keeping with the festival logo (a ‘droog’ from Clockwork Orange) volunteers will be supplied with bowler hats, but the fancy purple bowler hats on order from China haven’t arrived yet, so it may be a case of reverting to less fancy black plastic ones for the weekend. Nonetheless, volunteers will still be given the fancy ones when they do arrive, albeit after the festival is over. If you see a new fashion craze of purple bowler hats hitting the South East of England in the coming weeks – you heard it here first!
While shift sheets were being sorted and questions answered, I set about finding out what makes people so keen to want to help out at the festival for free. The first person I spoke to turned out to be Leoni’s child minder; Annie Robb.
Annie said that she has been a friend of Leoni for a long time and for her, volunteering was as much about “supporting an amazing lady” as it was supporting a local event. Annie revealled that Leoni had even cast her son in couple of roles in the past.
“I’m also local to St Albans”, she said. “I live behind the old cinema on London road, which is currently being restored. There is a rich hertitage here in St Albans, particularly around the film industry, and the film festival will bring so many positives to city.”
Siobhan palmer, a former student who is also local to the area said; “I’m not at uni, but I still wanted to help out, because of my interest in films. For me it’s about pursuing an interest and having the opportunity to get involved with the film industry in this way. Hopefully I will make good connections from working at the festival”.
Finally, I spoke with a 2012 Graduate from Bedfordshire University, Justina rude. Justina is a film maker and camera operator and wanted to use the opportunity to gain an inside look at the film festival. She said; “I’m looking forward to helping filmmakers and experts with the technical workshops”.
Justina has experience of using professional film equipment and wants to share her skills. She has her own website: http://www.jr-mediaproduction.co.uk/ and hopes her volunteering will help her to make potential job connections.
Oh, and incase you read my last blog and are wondering if Leoni is still surrounded by those stacks of programmes; of the 3000 that were printed, less than 1000 are left.