In 2013, I got smart and decided to work the press screenings. I detail below the advantages of working them as opposed to working the festival proper. Unfortunately, when the press screenings moved from the Uptown to Pacific Place in 2016, hourly staff were no longer needed to run them, which saved SIFF money, but robbed future employees the experience of working a set schedule during Fest — one that didn’t include nights and weekends.
The official start of the 39th Seattle International Film Festival isn’t until May 16, but the unofficial start began on Monday, with the first day of press screenings. In addition to people with Press passes, Full Series passholders and higher can attend the screenings. Unlike last year, where I left my schedule open to the whim of the scheduling gods, I asked to work press screenings this year, as did two of my coworkers. While working them constitutes an early start time (the first of three films starts at 10 am, with doors opening at 9:30), they also only run Monday through Thursday, allowing people who work them to have evenings and weekends off during the festival, which is when the festival films play.
Since the first two weeks of press screenings aren’t followed by any festival films, what follows are short descriptions of what each day of the press screenings were like, along with the films that were played:
Monday (Day One): My bus dropped me off at one end of Seattle Center; I walked to the other. First day of selling sandwiches. We sold four. Spent my downtime attaching stickers to parking passes and looking at photos of animals hugging each other. Films: The Deep, Frances Ha, Our Nixon
Tuesday (Day Two): Same bus; same trek across Seattle Center. Moved concession machinery to attach posters to windows, but first had to remove signage already there, which involved paper towels, a razor, and a bottle of Goo Gone. We sold more sandwiches today. Downtime spent in intensive Sporcle battles. Films: Celestial Wives of Meadow Mari, Crystal Fairy, Jump
Wednesday (Day Three): Took a different bus to work. Found out that we need to put up more posters, and that the tape has to be flush with the poster edges, rather than diagonally across them. Involved kneeling and standing on counters. Short turnaround between the first and second films, which meant that everyone who wanted food had to buy it at concessions, instead of at a restaurant or a fast food joint. Sold a lot of sandwiches and wraps. Tomorrow is Aloha
Friday Thursday. I don’t own a Hawaiian shirt, but I was too tired to buy one before 8 pm, and the stores that sell them close at that time. Films: The Daughter (Doch), We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, C.O.G.
Thursday (Day Four): Got a ride to work. Wore “Myrtle Beach” t-shirt as closest thing to beachwear that I own. Will buy a Hawaiian shirt over the weekend. Given beads to wear, which support a hanging plastic chicken. Films today dealt with such heavy subjects as sex tourism, religious fanaticism, and fat camp. After second film ended, one patron came out and said, “Now I can go home and slit my throat.” Films: Paradise: Love, Paradise: Faith, Paradise: Hope