Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Empowering Change: The Wild and Scenic Film Festival Volunteer Voices

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SYRCL’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival is on February 15 to the 19 this year.

In the heart of SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival’s commitment to environmental stewardship and activism lies a unique opportunity for passionate individuals to make a real impact.  

The festival, renowned for its celebration of nature and advocacy for environmental causes, is gearing up for another spectacular event. However, this extraordinary festival would not be possible without the dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes, embodying the spirit of “reel action” * (*this year’s festival theme). 

We asked some of the film festival’s previous and returning volunteers to share a little bit about themselves and their thoughts on the festival experience:  

Caitlin Edelmuth:  

Caitlin wild and scenic film festival

“My name is Caitlin Edelmuth, she/her, I am 25 years old, and 2023 was my first-year volunteering. When I last volunteered, I was based in the Sequoia National Forest, working as a Sierra Corps Forestry Fellow through the Sierra Nevada Alliance with the national nonprofit American Forests. Now I’m a forester with the USFS Tahoe NF, Yuba River Ranger District. 

In 2023, I volunteered as a HQ Support and Ticketing support person, jack of all trades, venue captain, concessions, greening, breakdown, and probably more, – it was all a blur. 🙂 

One of my most memorable experiences from my time volunteering at the WSFF was at the HQ ticket booth, where I had the opportunity to meet attendees, filmmakers, staff, and volunteers, and see just how excited each person was for the festival. I really enjoyed spending some time with my fellow volunteers just shooting the breeze or troubleshooting problems as they arose. 

The festival was my first large-scale event since the pandemic, and I was really nervous that I would be overwhelmed by the throngs of people. However, the festival was set up in such a way that crowding was minimal, and everyone I encountered was kind, self-aware, and just so passionate about the festival that I couldn’t help but be excited. 

The best part of the festival is the all-encompassing sense of community and excitement permeating the air, from the first-time attendees to the veterans who’ve been around since the beginning and from the proud filmmakers to the kind volunteers and staff. The whole local community gets involved and truly cares about the films and the success of the festival because they recognize the importance of supporting art and environmental awareness. Some of my fondest memories from the festival are of talking with fellow volunteers about the featured films and having thoughtful discussions based on the ideas and questions the films brought up. 

As far as a message for volunteers:  

Do you like meeting new and intriguing people? Do you enjoy learning more about your community and your world? Does giving back make you feel good? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re a perfect fit to volunteer in some capacity for the WSFF.  

Do it! It’s fun, there’s a volunteer opportunity for everyone, and you get to be around some amazing people and films! 

As far as a message for attendees: 

Thinking about attending the WSFF? I can wholeheartedly say that I enjoy film festivals now because of the WSFF. The breadth of subjects under the umbrella of the festival is astounding and the films are engaging and informative, and you’ll come away with your worldview changed. There are films for everyone young and old and they are organized in a way to ensure you’re getting a great deal. “

Left to Right: Hunter Reed, Rachael Elam, Caitlin Edelmuth, Bruno Pereira

Hunter Reed:

“My name is Hunter James Reed, I’m 38 years old and my occupation is as a Theater Manager, Technical Design Specialist and Instructor at Colfax High School and Performing Arts Center. 2024 will be my fourth year working with the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

I started with SYRCL in 2019, my 1st year in Nevada County as a River Captain: training, leading, and supervising volunteer River Ambassadors at all the major river crossings.  I enjoyed the experience immensely and quickly found myself pulled into the festival the following February.  I worked my way up from popcorn maker to unofficial concessions manager after proving my reliable versatility in stressful situations, and affable and approachable customer service work attitude.  After quickly learning the ins and outs and consistent needs of the multiple concessions/venues that are operating during WSFF, I felt incredibly grateful to SYRCL for officially and befittingly creating the Concession’s Manager position which they graciously offered to me for the 2023 and 2024 Festival. 

Hunter managing concessions at the Nevada Theatre – Wild and Scenic Film Festival, Saturday February 18, 2023

The most memorable experience I can recall from my years at W&S is a moment I shared with a festival goer who approached me for a coffee.  She was clearly agitated: it was early in the morning, freezing cold outside, and the coffee in our percolator wasn’t quite ready because it takes almost two hours to finish brewing.  This was a lady who needed her coffee ASAP.  Since she was the first customer who showed up, I decided to go above and beyond and grab a coffee for her at another spot down the road so I could hopefully make a lasting customer experience.  The gesture was extremely appreciated, and I have seen her back every year since; and taking from that interaction, I now show up extra early every fest day, to make sure that the percolator has the full time it needs to brew (1.5 hours!) so that the coffee is ready the second the doors open.

The WSFF is an inspiring, communal, uplifting, informative, and connective experience every single year.  The vibe is easily described as riding a mellow, yet electric buzz of joyous enthusiasm with all attendees and the kind and passionate staff. 

I consistently enjoy all my interactions with WSFF staff and attendees.  Everyone is excited about the films and looking forward to meeting new people, connecting with old friends, and supporting the incredibly inspiring and extraordinary films.  Viewing such deeply important and contemporarily relevant films in the Nevada Theater and all of our unique venues makes the festival an experience you’ll never forget. 

I can attest with all my heart and work/volunteer experience, that working the Wild & Scenic Film Festival will be one of the most satisfying and personally beneficial events you will ever be a part of.  You will be a valuable, worthwhile, and significant addition to our family and will undoubtedly want to make it a yearly commitment. Once you step into the fun…you won’t want to miss it ever again!

As a proud SYRCL volunteer…I look forward to many, many more years of supporting an incredible community of mother nature caretakers.”

The Wild & Scenic Team sends a big thanks Caitlin and Hunter for their incredible dedication to the home festival, and their generous responses to our questions.

As the Wild and Scenic Film Festival approaches, the call for volunteers resounds louder than ever. It’s an invitation to be part of something greater, to contribute to a movement that transcends entertainment and becomes a catalyst for positive change. By volunteering, individuals not only help organize a world-class event but also become ambassadors for environmental conservation, leaving an indelible mark on the journey towards a more sustainable future.  

Volunteer shifts are nearly halfway full, so sign-up today before they fill up completely! 

If you’d like to find out more, make sure you sign up to attend our:

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