By Chris J. Russo (doddleNEWS)
You know these guys, they are the unsung heroes that stand out in the freezing cold for hours on end repeating the same information over and over again — (“the next bus will be here soon” or “take the Theater Loop to get to Eccles”, etc.) — directing thousands of festival-goers day and night to the right shuttle bus. The festival would be nowhere without them, people would wander aimlessly and never get to their screenings on time. They are, simply put, the Awesome Shuttle Bus Guys. As I was waited for my bus to the Sundance Marriott Headquarters, I chatted up two volunteer veterans of the festival, both of whom couldn’t be more excited about coming back this year to tell you which bus to get on.
“I love it. There’s a familial quality about coming to the festival each year,” says 10-year volunteer Dean Austin Murphy from Port Townsend, WA. “I’m better friends with the folks here than with people I know in my home town!” Shaun Parker, another 10 year volunteer veteran who was off duty, wandered by to say hello to his fellow bus comrade. His shift begins later, and explains that one of the cool things about volunteering the specific shuttle bus position, is that they are scheduled in 4 1/2 hour shifts, which allows plenty of time to see films. Coming from Silverlake to be a part of the film festival, Shaun is one of the lucky 300 volunteers (of thousands) that is given accommodations as part of his volunteer package. He’s appreciative, but remarks that he’s not sure how much longer the festival will do this because there are so many local volunteers. Also a filmmaker in his own right, and primarily an actor, Shaun tells me he has a short film at SLAMDANCE this year called, “Hope You Like Crap,” screening this weekend. So he’s here doing double duty.
Bundled up in this year’s bright orange Kenneth Cole Sundance Volunteer jacket, Dean is also fortunate that he’s being put up by the festival — something that comes with having volunteered for many years. But tells me a story of a year when he wasn’t so fortunate, and had to sleep in a van for three nights in a sleeping bag in 10 degree weather. Which prompts me to ask these dedicated guys one more time, so why are you doing this? “It’s like film school, I’m learning something new all the time.”
For info on the shuttle bus system: http://www.sundance.org/festival/info/shuttle-service/