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February 2, 2005 - Ed and Volunteers

They take the tickets; they serve the drinks; they give directions and opinions and suggestions of good places to eat. They do computer entry and copying, they are gatekeepers and hospitable representatives of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. They wear blue t-shirts. Who are they?  The Film Festival volunteers!

In the course of our wandering around town this week, we have smiled and said hi and taken some of their pictures.

Place mouse over Nicole’s
picture to see her all dressed up.

But, yesterday, the dedicated staff of edhat.com decided to find out who these people are. Where do they come from? What do they do when they’re not doing this? Do they have any hot tips on movies? And so, with our clipboards under our arms, we made our way to what has become our first stop each day – Hotel Santa Barbara. We stopped in the Press Room to say hi to Mo McFadden and crew.  Mo suggested we begin our information quest by talking to staff member, Roberta Vaughn.  According to Mo, without Roberta, the press office would never run so smoothly. This is Roberta’s third year with the SBIFF, her first as a staff member.  In her non-Festival life, she works with the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance as a production coordinator.  Roberta introduced us to some of the volunteers in the press office and around the hotel.

As we spoke to each of the volunteers, a common sentiment emerged. Almost without exception, we were told what a good time they were having, and they all told us what a wonderful group of people they were working with. 


Most had something nice to say about Roger Durling, too – he’s doing such a terrific job; what amazing energy; he stops by to say thanks, and is such a down to earth guy.

While some of the volunteers are retired, we met quite a few who had taken time from their every day jobs to volunteer this week. One of the things that struck the dedicated staff was the impressive range of experience that is represented by this group of people. We met husbands and wives, friends and roommates. We met doctors and real estate moguls, former CEOs, waitresses, actors, patent-holders, and construction workers.  All share a love of America’s favorite pasttime - movies.

In the platinum pass holder hospitality room, we met Haze Wood, a professional astrologer of thirty years. 


She and her husband, fellow volunteer Wesley, moved to Santa Barbara two years ago, but still have a home in Atlanta. In 1979, long before the first election primary, Haze made the public prediction that Ronald Reagan would be the next president of the United States.  Her employers told her that if she were wrong, she’d be fired.  She told them that if she was right, they would double her salary… guess what?

Seated by the door of the hospitality room, we met Tracey Morris. Tracey is a floral designer here in Santa Barbara. We saw some beautiful examples of her work in the press office.

We met several young volunteers who were hoping to get experience through their work with the festival to prepare them for careers in the entertainment industry.  Nicole, in the press office, took a week off from her job in LA as an intern in the music industry to come to Santa Barbara to work as a volunteer.

After surveying at the hotel, we surveyed at the Metro 4.  Last night we also surveyed the volunteers at the Lobero Theater who were helping out with the Kate Winslet tribute.  There we met Angela, who told us that this is her 20th year volunteering - that’s every year!  Another volunteer, Tina, was in her 10th year.

All in all, the biggest trouble we had in conducting yesterday’s survey was lack of time.  We enjoyed chatting and hearing all of the interesting stories and unique perspectives.  If Ed had let us, we would have taken all day.  And, if Ed had let us, we would have written a story about each one of the people we talked to.  Actually, most of them could be a future Edhat Person of the Week.

Kathy Jo Watson was taking tickets at the Metro Four.  She had worked the Festival in 1989 – “back when it was tiny”. An enthusiastic moviegoer, she remembered seeing the Ken Russell movie, Gothic.  Mel Blanc was honored at that year’s festival, and was presented with a giant bouquet of carrots. When asked for her impression of the Festival she said, “Great people, great movies, beautiful city!”

Most volunteers were in their first or second year.  The average number of prior years of experience was 1.92 years - that includes Angela and Tina. Ukki was the winner of the day's contest with a guess of 1.9 years.  Ukki wins a SBIFF ticket 4-pack.

See more volunteer pictures in the Edhat Photo Gallery.

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