Among the questions asked of anyone at a Film Fest Kickoff party are, “Do you work in film?” or, “Are you a filmmaker/producer?”
Like the other volunteers, I wore my volunteer shirt but as I was there to partake in the party, the shirt was concealed beneath my button down flannel shirt. Routinely, I was prepared to open the shirt in a dramatic fashion to proudly reveal the logo. This was complicated by the fact that the strap from my laptop bag was in the way and later by the realization that if I kept doing that in a public place, it might look as though I was flashing someone.
The reason I had the laptop bag on me, was because there wasn’t actually a person working the coat check of the hotel. It was strictly self-service if you wanted to leave something there and while I generally trust the staff and guests of the well-respected Hawthorne Hotel, there’s still a bit of trepidation associated with leaving anything of value unguarded. Since it was warm, I decided to hang up my coat and keep my keys, camera and laptop close at hand.
As I went behind the counter, an older gentleman stopped in the door behind me. He was a regular at the hotel. I recognized him from one of my visits to the lobby for the free apple cider that is available to guests. Though I didn’t know him by either name or reputation, I earned his gratitude by offering to hang his coat for him.
“Thank you very much,” he said, after making sure that his pockets were empty.
“Oh, not a problem,” I replied, sincerely. “It’s an honor to play coat check for a day at the Hawthorne.”
As I moved among the guests, enjoying the fare and sipping the coffee, I was a little embarrassed when I dropped a cherry tomato on the carpet. If anyone noticed, they were polite enough not to make me eat crow and I shrugged it off while muttering a silent apology to any staff that might have to clean the reception room later.
Fortunately, I was not the only one who had an issue keeping food on a plate. A woman who lived locally but enjoyed the film fest every year had accidentally dropped a piece of sliced carrot and shortly after, a cracker. She fretted over it at first, but I assured her not to worry.
“There’s actually a secret mouse film festival being held underneath all of the tables,” I said. “Every time a guest drops food, one of the mouse waitstaff darts from under the table, grabs it and then returns to the mouse kitchen where it’s broken up and arranged on little mouse serving trays and offered to the mouse film makers.”
This succeeded in getting a laugh out of the young lady as well as a man I would later discover is a producer and director of locally filmed tourist videos. Later that evening, as I left the party, a few of the guests I had spoken too wished me well in my own future endeavors in film and the creative arts. I only hope I’m as big of a hit in the festival of the men as I am with the mice.