Culture

Q&A with Last Year’s Gayle Stevens Winner

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Q. How did you get involved with Sundance Institute?
A. I live here in Park City. Although I totally love it now, it can be difficult for Park City locals when the Film Festival comes to town. Traffic problems, both in cars and as a pedestrian, were especially difficult years ago, before the transportation system was enhanced. I actually used to leave town when Sundance was here! Ten years ago, in November, I had not yet planned my January escape, and saw an article in our local newspaper looking for volunteers for the upcoming Festival. I decided at that point, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” It’s been wonderful ever since and I absolutely love the Sundance Institute, the Sundance Film Festival, and the people and excitement that occurs with both.


Q. What’s your day-to-day routine like as a Sundance Film Festival volunteer?
A. Although I now volunteer for Sundance Institute year round, during the festival I work in the Pass and Package Office, which is part of the box office at the Gateway Center at the bottom of Main Street. I can’t sit still, and at the beginning of the festival, the Pass and Package office is crazy busy with excited, happy people picking up their pre-purchased ticket packages and passes. I get to meet a lot of people, and share my knowledge with them about how to see films, where the off-site venues are located, how to travel between venues via our wonderful free transportation system, or however else I can help prepare the filmgoers to enjoy the festival.


Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect of volunteering at the festival?
A. I am a friendly person by nature, and love to make new friends. Through the Sundance Film Festivals, I have met so many fantastic people, many of whom remain friends even after the festival is over each year. The staff at the Sundance Institute is great and my fellow volunteers are the BEST.


Q. What advice do you have for anyone considering applying to volunteer?
A. I’d say “just do it!” You will become part of this wonderful festival, with all the craziness, films, musical entertainment, and special events. It has been such a rewarding 10 years, I just can’t imagine participating in our film festival without being a volunteer! The time commitment you give can be as short as 24 hours or as long as you want, and the benefits of being a volunteer are fantastic. Especially coveted are these wonderful jackets provided to each and every one of us by Kenneth Cole.


Q. Sundance Film Festival has over 2,300 volunteers participating each year, how does it feel to have been acknowledged and recognized as the Gayle Stevens Volunteer of the year?
A. I felt so honored to be selected as Volunteer of the Year. I would say I was speechless, but that wasn’t true...I can’t shut up talking about how wonderful it felt to be selected. I will cherish that award and the fond memories surrounding it forever.


Q. Why would you encourage people to volunteer at Sundance Film Festival or somewhere else?
A. In general, volunteering is a rewarding experience. I have been retired from my full-time job for two years now, and I have stepped up my volunteering all over town just because it is such a rewarding process. I know that finding time to volunteer is difficult for people still working or who have family commitments, but many organizations welcome volunteers, no matter how much time they have to give. I feel blessed that the Sundance Institute and it’s Film Festival are right here in my town, but wherever you live, finding time to volunteer will pay you back tenfold!