Sunday, August 14, 2011

Festival (W)Rap Up

I don't do a wrap up of every festival but this one is screaming for attention so I must oblige.

This year see MIFF turn 60 years old and my 11th working in the box office. MIFF decided they would do interviews, show exhibits and various other things relating to their life for showing at the festival and archives. I read in my Widescreen newsletter that they were looking for people who could contribute stories or anything they thought worthy enough to share and go into the historical vault. I wasted no time in emailing a brief note about my unwavering loyalty and dedication which included many stories, funny and dramatic. I recevied a reply and my name was passed on to Yum Productions who were producing the interviews.

I got a call from Erin and we met for a pre-camera interview. It was terrific and I was having a great time relating all my stories and opinions. I talked about the ticketing systems, the punters, members, the old venues, going to the opening parties, not going to the opening parties and the revolution (that's a bit exaggerated, just a bit) I caused one year because of it, fainting in the cinema and my desperate but hopeless attempt to ask Cameron Crowe a question in the Q & A for Wonder Boys. We could have talked for hours but there was another interviewee to be met.

A couple of months later we met up again, this time at Federation Square, for a ride on the ferris wheel. You should note that this was during the Comedy Festival so the wheel was not the usual giant and slow one that is there all the time but the small and very FAST one that sets up only for the festival. We only had about 20 minutes of tape so I was conscious of trying to be articulate and interesting and not waste time. I think this backfired on me because I kept saying "definitely" and it was very annoying. There was so much to talk about in a short space of time. I felt like such a goofy and was paranoid as to how I would come across. There was no need to worry as in the end I was might happy with it and there was not one word resembling "definitely"!

Here it is for you all to see:

So onto the rest of the team! Last year saw 3 new managers come on board and a bunch of new staff. Most of the crew returned this year bringing a few more newbies with them. As soon as the final roster came out the emails started flying with shift swaps and giveaways galore. I wondered if there was going to be anyone working at all!

I couldn't wait to get my hands on a program to study up and plan my next couple of weeks. No social activities are planned outside of the festival. This is a long time rule and the few times I tried to break it resulted in too much angst. My first pre-festival shift was on the phones with Fernando and we were straight into discussing which movies we would be seeing. Ronit thought we were just like David and Margaret. I couldn't commit to any film just yet though as I had to sit through a hell of a lot of trailers to make sure of my choices. It took me hours of viewing and I was damn sick of it at the end but I am glad I did it.

Let's skip the rest of the pre-fest stuff as not much goes on. Opening night came and went without us and I am still carrying the scar from being cut off from this B grade celebrity laden, free booze, not enough canapes event a few years back. The choice of film was dubious and held little appeal for most people it seemed but again it didn't matter as we didn't see it.

As the days roll on and we re-unite with old friends we come to realise that booking online has really taken over this year and we resort to playing multiple games of solitaire and pinball. Hours go by, the box office door squeaks and SQUEAKS, bangs and BANGS. My boredom threshhold peaks early and my temper starts to fray. Through it all my humour is never far away and I can always rely on my witty sarcasm to get me cracking again.

My mini pass is full and I start to swap and cancel films as fatigue takes over or my intitial ideas of what a film will be like turn to realisations that I am not keen on the story at all. I discover my pass is a mutant and I have booked an evening session that is counted as a day session. Then I get 14 spaces when I should only have 13. WIN WIN! (good name for a film) Except that when I start making all those changes I lose the extra session. Weirdest of all is the booking I made for The Future. I cancelled it. It reappeared. I cancelled it again. It re-reappeared. I cancelled it. It re-re-reappeared. I DO NOT want to see this film. I had witnesses so I showed Molly who was equally baffled. Nothing came of it in the end.

One of my favourite loony shifts was with James on the phones. James W gave us a long list of how to say hello in various languages. Being the natural entertainers that we are we set about greeting every caller in Malaysian, Japanese, Guatemalan, Inuit and Pirate. Pirate you say? Yes! Gladly I handed that one to James and he relished the opportunity to get his Captain Hook on. The call went something like this:

James: Aarrgh! Welcome to the Film Festival, how may I help you?
Caller: I'd like tickets to The Yellow Sea.
James: Oh to be sure, that be a fine fillum there. Ah har, The Yellow Sea, she's a mighty challenge.

I made some of that dialogue up but you get the drift.....oh nice pun! We were in stitches and then Andi suggested we throw in a song lyric. Well, the first one that came to mind was "my heart will go on" and it worked a treat:

Tracey: I'm sorry, that film is booked out.
Caller: Oh no, I was supposed to book it ages ago. My friends will be mad at me. Oh I can't believe it.
Tracey: Never mind, my heart will go on.

The night kept on in this manner with James outdoing himself by quoting Cat Stevens and Britney Spears..but not in the same call. I hadn't had this much fun on the phones since my first MIFF when I answered the phone as HANK!

The box office didn't miss out on such frivolous entertainment. There were times when we wouldn't see a customer for a while so when someone came in just to get a program we ambushed them asking "Don't you want to stay and chat?" They would take pity on us and stay a few moments as we bombarded them with questions just to kill some time instead of each other. Other times we discussed our regulars such as Camoflauge Man who dressed in Army gear EVERY day. He was clearly not in the Army as he had a beard and was not in tip top shape. There was Mary, a lady of about 70 who would come in every day with some convoluted problem and make it worse. A stand out incident was with Jo who was the unfortunate staffer to be dealing with the 2 blonde ladies who also came in every day with their exchanges and mixed up thoughts. This particular day they asked for tickets to the Indonesian film.

Jo: Which film is that?
Ladies: The Indonesian one.
Jo: Do you know the name of it?
Ladies: It's Indonesian.
Jo: Today at 11am? Are you sure? What's it about?
Tracey: Is it definitely in the festival?
Ladies: Yes of course it is. It's Indonesian!

I seriously wanted to slap the pair of them out of the box office and into oncoming cars.

Fernando is our resident rapper and it iddn't take me long to join in. Anyone who works with me knows how disruptive I can be with my antics and sarcasm. One day we were there with Dan and Shaun making music? in the box office. Dan designed the album cover of our debut LP, "Get Yo Tickets Here, Bitch! We were hilarious! I have included a copy of our hit song below.

Moving on, we come to the closing party. It was held in the Atrium at Federation Square, an open space that is basically a corridor of shops. So inviting! We eventually all met up and danced the night away sipping on free alcohol and chasing waiters with trays of canapes. The canapes were not exactly mouth watering and the first one I saw was frittata - poor man's quiche.

The music cranked up wtih Andrew McClelland at the helm and he could do no wrong. I am still blessing the rains down in Africa. I love it when we dance in a giant group like maniacs, maniacs on the floor, dancing like we've never danced before. The night went on and the champagne dried up so I had a couple of white wines. I must have had about 2 bottles of champagne so I really didn't need to keep going but one needs to keep up one's fluids....

We eventually got kicked out at 3am and there was discussion about going to The Peel in Collingwood. I can't remember what the hell was going on but no one could decide on anything and people were getting in and out of the one taxi we had. At least I think that's what was happening. Anyway Lucy, Mel and I headed off to get some food and this is where is gets seriously blurry. Lucy disappeared. There were phone calls. Were there? I don't know, maybe but we found each other in the end and shared a cab home. My feet were in agony, I could barely walk. I lost my gloves.

At 8.30am my alarm goes. Oh, oh no this can't be happening. I shower and get ready to leave but at 9.15 I decide to lay down. I have to. At 9.30am I get up again and Lucy rings because she has arrived at work and no one is there. She goes off to buy coffee and muffins. My first stop is the shop to buy a Powerade, it's all I can think about. I amble in to the Forum 15 minutes late, announce my arrival and advise I will be in the bathroom if you start to wonder where I have gone. We all feel the same sickness.

The morning drags on as the customers come in for the 11am screening. I can't be bothered, I have no bother left in me at all so I gather all the lost property scarves and jackets and make a little cubby house under my desk. I'm so hidden that Molly and Ronit ask where I am as the others point at me.

I have drawn the short straw and am working all day whereas everyone else is only doing half shifts. What happened there? I sulk about it all day as the others laugh it off waving their goodbyes. 5pm comes, not soon enough and James says I can go early. I am so grateful that I am in the counting room signing my balance sheet and putting on my coat by 5.05pm. I am Cyclone Tracey, get out of my, I'm going home.

Monday is my tradituional day off after the festival but I haven't organised it and I am not happy. I message my clients and ask if I can have the day off. My head is aching and I can barely move. I don't even go to tap class. The same thing happens on Tuesday. What a mess I am. Of course it was all worth it. I have some fabulous new friends, saw 16 films, made people laugh and look forward to the next festival wherever and whenever that may be. (Melbourne Arts Festival)

I will leave you with the official box office theme song....the flow changes but just go with it....

Get Yo Tickets Here Bitch!

You're feeling pretty groovy, you're in the mood for movies
You get down to the festy and drag along your besty
You walk into the box and get into some talks
You're girl she asks you "Where Mitch?"
You tell her "Get yo tickets here, bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh!

It's 10 o'clock on sunday morn, you're gonna wish you were never born
That session is a sell out, of that I have a no doubt
"Give me a ticket, I'm a witch"
I said "There ain't no tickets here bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh!

The Turin Horse has broken down, the punters yell "Get outta town!"
A baby man, peas of wasabi, stomping ain't no way to party
A cranky skanky wants to switch
"You bring you're ticket here bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh!

The festival is closing down, we gonna dance and clown around
Harry Potter, Bollywood, down at GU you're in the hood
"I wanna help but there's a hitch
Go get your tickets there bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh. Yeah, get your tickets there