A Day in the Life with Guest Services

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The Guest Services team at EIFF is responsible for looking after all of our special guests of the Fest. They ensure that everyone has a room and an itinerary, makes their appearances and perhaps most importantly isn't left behind at the airport! Emma Fyvie tells us how it's done.

It is often the case that what really makes a screening is the presence of the filmmaker – on hand to introduce the film and answer any questions the audience might have. The insight into the filmmaking process that can be offered by the director and cast proves invaluable to the viewing experience and is what differentiates a festival screening from other presentations of the film. It’s a much more intimate and memorable experience for audiences when an introduction from the director takes the place of adverts for mobile phones and forthcoming attractions.

A lot of preparation goes into getting a filmmaker to Edinburgh to present their work, and this is the responsibility of a small but beautifully formed team of guest bookers that comprise the Guest Services team.

We organise travel, accommodation, hospitality and schedules for over a hundred filmmaker guests, countless industry delegates and many members of the press who descend upon Edinburgh each summer. So that’s a lot of people to keep happy come June – a task made easier by the hard work of our hospitality and events teams who put together a vast array of receptions, parties and dinners at which guests can eat, drink and generally be merry.

We are currently in the midpoint of festival preparations, where we speak to our travel agents more than we do our friends and can’t wait for EIFF to actually kick off. June is the time when we finally get to leave the office and usually don’t see it again until the day after our Closing Night Gala.

We spend our days dotting from airport to screening to dinner to screening and to those who think we have the most glamorous job in the festival I would mention the evening I spent three hours at the airport awaiting a guest whose flight was delayed.

The surroundings of the rainy airport car park proved uninspiring as one of our stalwart drivers and I struggled to keep a game of ‘I Spy’ interesting. But any periods of hanging around are balanced out by the chaos of red carpet events and the detail that goes into organising them – if you’re drawn to working in live events this is the bit you really enjoy.

There’s nothing quite so satisfying as when you can finally sit down, safe in the knowledge that your guest was photographed, interviewed and has now taken their seat in the grand inner sanctum of Festival Theatre on opening night. Now we have 90 minutes to relax before moving them onto the post screening party and the chaos starts again.

For our independent filmmakers, who are perhaps visiting Edinburgh for the first time, Guest Services often act as a personal tour guide and we love being able to showcase the festival and the city to our guests.

As a festival inextricably linked to its hometown, one of the real perks of the job is being able to introduce someone new to Edinburgh and in four years of working for EIFF I’m yet to meet someone who didn’t fall in love with the city while they were here. Then, of course, we look forward to seeing them again with their latest project.

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