Russell Berning ’19 Indianapolis Film Festival – I, along with Lucas Bucina, have been working with the Indianapolis Film Festival (IFF) this summer. It has been a great experience to be able to see all of the hard work and dedication that it takes to get a completely volunteer based event running.

Some of the main missions that we have been tasked with are assisting in the arrival and departures of filmmakers coming to the festival, getting together and distributing promotional materials, and making sure that the festival is running smoothly. In order to ensure that the IFF is steaming forward, there has to be someone manning the theater operations, box office, and the selling of merchandise. The person working the theater operations is the one working the soundboard as well and making sure that the movie is screening correctly. Being in charge of the box office means the person is at the front desk assisting people with buying their tickets and ensuring they are going to the right screening. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that even though there may be some minor setbacks, one must be able to think on their feet and find the best possible outcome. There have been a few kinks in the process of getting the IFF going, yet through deliberation and critical thinking, these problems were handled in a manner that worked best for everyone.

We always have to make sure that the viewers are happy with the entire experience at the film festival. This means having the best experience all the way from walking through the doors of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, purchasing tickets, sitting down in the theater, watching the production to departing from the IFF. Being able to communicate with the consumer and ensuring that they are happy with everything is hard to accomplish at times, yet is what the whole festival is contingent upon.

All of these lessons I’ve learned will be applicable in the fields of either marketing or sales. Both of these occupations are large on one to one interactions. However, without the Lilly Endowment, none of the experiences or lessons that I have learned would have been possible. I am more than grateful that I was one of the students selected to receive the endowment. Being able to work with the Indianapolis Film Festival has opened up my eyes on the process of what it takes to bring together a large scale event.