Volunteering at the Lincoln Memorial Inaugural Opening Ceremony

January 24, 2009

Now that I’m thawed out and fully recovered from the excitement of last weekend,  I can share my first-person account of being a part of the historic inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

At volunteer training, held in the Washington, DC convention center, I and about 6,000 other volunteers learned about our general duties and responsibilities, then went into break-out sessions to learn more detailed information about our inaugural-volunteervarious roles.  I was assigned to work the media work tent at the Inaugural Opening Ceremony on Sunday, January 18 at the Lincoln Memorial.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, January 17, the volunteers working in the press area reported to the site to meet the Opening Ceremony staffers and team captains for a run-through.  

On Sunday morning, we met even earlier to go through the press area security check-point and begin our appointed task of staffing the media work tent for the duration of the Opening Ceremony and concert.   The tent was heated (hallelujah!) and equipped with hardline internet access, electricity and phone lines for members of the press to file their stories, charge their camera batteries, etc.  Refreshments were available, and when word spread that the tent was heated and stocked with food and hot coffee, the tent became quite a popular place for  the journalists and camera crews to stop by and warm up.

Due to the number of volunteers working at the Opening Ceremony, we were lucky enough to see parts of the Opening Ceremony in one-hour shifts.  I watched the first half of the ceremony from a very plum spot, close to the bandstand, thanks to the generosity of a very kind HBO rep.  I loved watching the performances and speakers, but the most thrilling moment was looking behind me and seeing the throng of people that stretched all the way back to the Washington Memorial!

Volunteering for the Opening Ceremony was a fantastic experience.  It was rewarding to be with friendly, dedicated, bright people, all of us working as a team, doing our part to represent our new President in one of the most historic inaugurations in our country’s history.


The Inauguration – my first-person account

January 11, 2009

Volunteering on the Obama-Biden campaign was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. 

inaugural_flag_logo_button When the Presidential Inauguration Committee asked for volunteers to help out with the inauguration, I jumped at the chance and applied right away.  I’m happy to report I was accepted!

This afternoon, I head downtown to attend mandatory volunteer training and receive my assignment.  Who knows where I’ll be assigned — working at the parade, or the National Day of Service, or the kids’ concert, or if I’m very very lucky, one of the official balls. Or I could be in a back-office working uber-behind the scenes.  It doesn’t really matter because I’m excited about helping in an historical moment for our country and for the world.

If it’s allowed, I’ll try to live-twitter the training today.  If I can swing it, and you’d like a small glimpse into the inauguration build-up from a volunteer’s perspective, follow me.   I’m also taking my camera with me, in case pictures are allowed.  In any case, I’ll be writing my impressions of the training later tonight (after I watch the season premiere of 24).  I’ll also follow-up with further posts about my experience as a volunteer in Inauguration 2009.

Coelho puts MySpace on hold for Festival gamble

January 11, 2009

After first signaling that he was ushering in a new era of filmmaking and distribution, Paul Coelho is apparently re-thinking the distribution plans  for  Experimental Witch.

When I first heard about it, I looked forward to following  Coelho’s crowd-source filmmaking experiment for Experimental Witch, when he announced his plans to solicit MySpace friends to help make the film, and then distribute the film in partnership with MySpace. The plan sounded innovative and fresh, and his announcement of the winners of the MySpace competition signaled this might really work. I had visions of a new model for filmmaking and film distribution.  Very exciting stuff!

Turns out, the monumental shift I was anticipating may be a while coming. Coelho appears to be sliding back towards the classic ‘festival first’ mentality. It seems a “major European Festival” is considering accepting the film as long as it’s not shown anywhere else first, including on the internet. Coelho, hoping to grab critical attention, as well as a possible theatrical distribution deal, by showing the film at major festivals, announced he’s delaying the MySpace premiere while he woos the festival circuit.

This is turning into to a textbook case of old-world film distribution clashing  against, rather than embracing, new-world approaches to reaching audiences:

Old-world: Exclusivity.  Filmmakers allow their films to be trapped by a festival vs. New-world:  Open and accessible.  Filmmakers insist on distribution freedom.

I wonder if the day will ever come when festivals drop this archaic requirement of  our-festival-first exclusivity, and realize that festival audiences are not necessarily the same as global audiences, and that one doesn’t negate the importance of the other. 

I can only imagine the MySpace filmmakers that contributed to Experimental Witch, not to mention Coelho’s fans, are disappointed in the delay.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.