by Gina Myers

For the 5th year in a row, filmmakers, producers, actors and other industry types from around the world will descend on downtown Bay City for Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival (HHM), running Thursday, September 30th through Sunday, October 3rd. And you could be part of the action.

Christa Schubert, who teaches Spanish and French at Handy Middle School and works as HHM's Volunteer Coordinator, says, "It's a really great opportunity to get involved, especially if you're interested in movies, screenwriting, and acting since you get to interact with people who do those things professionally." Even if movies aren't your thing, there are still ways you can help out. According to Schubert, the ideal volunteer is positive and energetic. "The volunteers are the face of the festival. They're the ones who make it a great experience for everyone who is attending."

Overall 200 volunteers are needed and there are a wide range of positions available, from office work to ushering, to ticket sales and security. Other volunteer opportunities include what Schubert calls "movers and shakers," that is "people who can get things from one place to the next." Helpers are needed to set up for the Thursday night block party and for other gatherings, and drivers are also needed to pick up the festival's visiting guests from either MBS or Flint Bishop International airports. Venue Managers are also needed. While the bulk of the work happens during the festival, there is promotional work that is already under way. Schubert is currently looking for 8 to 12 volunteers to hand out save-the-date cards and posters at Bay City's Annual Downtown Wine Walk on September 23rd.

Volunteer shifts run about 3 1/2 hours, though Venue Managers work for about 6 hours at a time. For each shift someone volunteers for, he or she will be given a free ticket to a movie.

Since Schubert came on as Volunteer Coordinator three years ago, she has heard a lot of positive feedback from people who have given their time to the festival. "Most people enjoy meeting the filmmakers and actors, and getting to see a movie that they wouldn't have otherwise. They also like atmosphere. It's a fun atmosphere." Schubert's goal for this year is to get a diverse cast of volunteers together. "At the Traverse City Film Festival, I saw a range of ages, professions, and personalities. I'd like to see that here too."

If you're interested in finding more out about volunteering for HHM, there will be a meeting on Wednesday, September 8th at 6:30 pm at Handy Middle School at 601 Blend Street in Bay City (use the handicap accessible entrance from the Alp Street lot behind the school). You can also access the volunteer form online and e-mail it to Christa Schubert directly.

© Gina Myers, 2010