Welcome back to Inside the IFI and our latest Staff Interview.
This week, it’s Saidhbh’s turn in the spotlight as she tells us all about her role as the Irish Film Institute’s Membership Officer.
Catch up on our previous chats with IFI Player Co-ordinator Aaron and Projectionist Paul.
What is your name?
Saidhbh Ní Dhúlaing.
And your job title?
IFI Membership Officer.
How long have you been with the IFI?
Just over 4 years.
What does your job entail?
I’m here to look after all our IFI Members and IFI Friends and to promote the Membership and Friend schemes to our audience.
Can you describe a typical day?
There isn’t one! I have two different work spaces so a certain amount of my week is spent in the Membership Office, but I also get to be part of front-of-house down in the IFI Box Office and, in both cases, I’m often responding to what events are coming up next so there’s no typical day really. I like the variety though and I love the fact that I get to work in both of these areas as this way I can meet and chat with our members and friends in person as well as via the many other ways that we keep in touch with them throughout the year.
As anyone who’s ever worked in it will tell you, front-of-house work can be challenging at times, but there are always moments each week that lift your heart. We have so many great regulars at the IFI who come in for a film most weeks and it’s always nice to see them and chat about what films they’ve seen recently. Quite often, a film will come along that will completely divide people with some loving it and some hating it, and it’s great to hear the different reactions when that happens.
We also have different special events for the IFI Friends during the year, like the fascinating IFI Irish Film Archive tours which we had on recently, so I get the chance to spend time with all the lovely people who are giving extra support to the work of the IFI.
Whether I am in the Membership office or the Box Office there will always be plenty of tea and chocolate involved so that would be the most consistent aspect of my working days!
Do you have a favourite experience from your time at the IFI?
There have been loads of little moments but we’d be here all day if I started listing those, so some of the bigger high points were seeing Mike Leigh in Cinema 1 after Mr. Turner, Michael Moore’s visit last year, our 70mm screenings (they are really special!) and our Hitchcock season a few years ago.
Mike Leigh at the IFI – October 2014
Do you have a project/assignment you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?
The IFI Open Day each year is a really enjoyable day and I’m always proud to be part of the team working at it. It’s a chance to inform people about what we do at the IFI and to show them how they can support that work, so we give away free film tickets all day and have discounts and deals for members and friends who join up.
Through the free films and discounts we get to give back to our current members and friends as well as welcoming in new faces so it’s always a feel good day with a great programme of new and old films and a really nice vibe in the building. We’ve also had members and friends volunteering at Open Day in the last few years and working alongside them has been really special. It’s usually on in the summer but it’s happening in September this year to celebrate our 25th anniversary on Eustace Street so that’ll be a fun one!
Is there another initiative or project at the IFI which has really impressed you?
It’s always nice to see what the IFI Education department is getting up to. They programme events for different sections of the IFI audience, from young children for the family screening each month and the IFI Family Festival, to our very popular over 55’s film club each month called ‘Wild Strawberries’, and the brilliant IFI Schools programme too.
They’re very often responsible for bringing people in to the IFI who may not have found their way here otherwise, from teenagers who’ve never seen an independent or international film before to someone who has lived in Dublin all their life but never knew the IFI was here until now. The IFI Education department was responsible for bringing me in these doors for a school screening of Run Lola Run back in the day so I am eternally grateful!
What makes the IFI unique?
So many things. I love our building here on Eustace Street, it’s full of interesting details that you notice gradually the more time you spend here. It’s beautiful, and whenever I visit other cinemas I’m always reminded of how special our lovely building is. The film programming at the IFI is one of a kind, with roughly 50% of films in the programme being exclusive to the IFI each year. The fact that we show films on so many different formats, like 35mm and 70mm, is also sadly very rare nowadays. Our audience is also brilliantly diverse and all of these things combine to make a very special atmosphere here, especially on a Friday when all the new films are released.
If you could meet any film star or filmmaker, living or dead, who would it be and why?
We get a lot of film stars and filmmakers here both as customers and guests and I’d love to pretend that I can always be cool about it but if they happen to be someone I am a big fan of I will probably barely hold it together. So I really wouldn’t be encouraging this scenario but it would have to be Katherine Hepburn as she was incredible and one of a kind.
What’s your favourite film of all time and why?
I honestly can’t name just ONE, but some of my favourites that I can watch over and over again without them ever losing their magic would be The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, Bringing up Baby, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Producers and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
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