The Traverse City Film Festival: increased popularity and great opportunity for volunteers and interns

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Journalism at Michigan State University

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Traverse City held the 13th consecutive Traverse City Film Festival July 25-30. The annual Northern Michigan festival, which began in 2005, had around 120,000 attendees this year.

Meg Weichman, creative director at TCFF, says, “With the addition of new venues, as well as word getting out about what a great festival we have, we have seen both community and regional support, as well as national interest increase.”

Weichman says, “The TCFF is something Traverse City is very proud of. It is a true example of our community coming together to create something magical and special for our area, not only in terms of economic impact, but cultural and social as well. It showcases Traverse City at its finest, the people, the food, the recreation, and offers a rich, one-of-a-kind cultural experience to engage with neighbors and visitors the world over.”

Below is a chart showing the increase in both venues and admissions between 2005 and 2014.

Dr. Mark Wilson, professor of urban and regional planning at Michigan State University, says, “Festivals play several roles for a community including serving as a source of community identity and promoting community action and providing economic activity around tourism, restaurants, entertainment, etc.

“It also provides vitality and interest for residents and visitors that builds place and reputation and serves to promote the community within a city as well as its region.”

The festival is largely operated by volunteers, as Weichman estimates nearly 1,600 volunteers.

Weichman says, “We are nearly an entirely volunteer run operation outside of a few key paid employees. No other festival of our size runs on such volunteer power, and it is what gives our festival its unique character and spirit. It sets us apart and is what filmmakers and filmgoers love so much about coming here — the passion, friendliness, helpfulness, and welcoming of our incredible volunteers.”

Weichman says that the estimated 1,600 volunteers includes nearly 360 volunteer managers who work full-time hours the week of the festival as well as frequently that many hours during the lead up.

Amy Endresen is one of the managers at the green room at the Bijou by the Bay theatre. She says she recommends being a volunteer with the TCFF.

“It’s an opportunity to spend time with and meet interesting people from Traverse City, around the country, and around the world. It’s also an opportunity to be a part of something that creates an opportunity to bring people to our community,” Endresen says.

The festival also provides internships. Sid Van Slyke, assistant director of the festival, says, the interns for the Traverse City Film Festival are an incredible group year after year. These students absolutely work their tails off. They also handle some of the most important business of the festival. Anything from working with the sponsors of the festival, technical aspects, design, scheduling of VIP guests, and even choreographing a stage dance routine for this years “manager bowl” meeting!”

Bradley Coster, an attendee and videography intern at TCFF, says, “In the beginning there was only about 15 or so interns. Once the week of the festival arrived, we had about 40 interns working for us at once.”

Coster worked on creating “dailys” (news and recap segments that are released every day of the festival). He says, “Most of the segments we did were to promote some of the ongoing events that happen during the festival, as well as some of the upcoming opportunities that audiences can participate in.”

Along with YouTube, the TCFF has been using multiple social media platforms. Van Slyke says, “Social media in several forms is used as the primary means of conveying real time information throughout the festival. That can be announcements of special guests, sold out films, or ticket availability for special events or added screenings. This was also the first year several events were broadcast on Facebook Live.”

Emma Reamer, 18, has been attending the festival for 4 years. She talks highly of the TCFF’s social media platforms. These are included on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Reamer says, TCFF’s social media definitely makes it easier to connect with millennial because social media has become such a huge part of our generation. We spend a big majority of our time on social media.

Below is the Instagram page.