The grating sound of the alarm clock woke me up bright and early today. I had set it for 7:00 AM because I planned on attending the HIFF’s Opening Day Press Conference at 9:00 AM. The two extra hours would let me eat, play some video games, and arrive there with time to spare. I’ve never been to a press conference before, so it was a brand new experience for me.
I arrived at the Sheraton Waikiki at about 8:15 AM, giving me plenty of time to grab my delegate credentials and be on my way to the press conference, which was going to be held at the Rumfire. I followed the signs reading “Lobby” through curvy, spacious hallways flanked on both sides by shops peddling everything from high end jewelery to inflatable crabs. After what seemed like forever, I finally arrived at a circle of elevators, with the Rumfire on the other side. I didn’t enter the Rumfire immediately for two reasons. One was that I had received an email instructing me to go to a specific suite to receive my press pass. The second was the presence of two big, bald guys in tuxedos with earbuds in their ears standing at the entrance of the Rumfire. Those bouncers (ok, they might not have been bouncers) looked pretty serious, so I figured I should have credentials before attempting to enter. I made a beeline to the nearest wall of elevators…and couldn’t find the button to call one. I looked around the walls. With the exception of the elevator doors and “elevator has arrived” lightbulbs, I couldn’t find the stupid button. Then I noticed a sign that told me the elevator button was on top of the desk in the middle of the room. Whoever planned this clearly did not consider newcomers to the hotel.
So, off I went to the fourth floor. I found the suite fairly quickly, and entered into a fairly nice hotel room. The floors were lined with bags of goodies, and a table was arrayed with blue delegate passes. Aha, I was in the right place. A lady approached me and asked me what my business was there (in a much nicer way than I wrote here). I told her my name and was given a rather heavy bag of swag. She then proceeded to the table to look for my pass. I waited and took some pictures with my terrible camera as some other press members trickled into the room.
She returned a minute or two later and asked me to repeat my name. Uh, oh! Not a good sign. Apparently she couldn’t find my pass, and after spelling out my name again, she enlisted the help of two other ladies in looking for it. Another couple of minutes of searching went by, and she said maybe I should sit down while I waited. Oh dear. My one consolation was that I was not alone in this situation: another press member’s pass was also missing.
After searching, they arrived at the conclusion that my pass was not there. There was a stack of blank red press passes on another table, so she had the idea of just writing my name down on it so that I could attend the press conference. Before she could do that, she had to confirm it was OK to do so with the head honcho in charge of the whole affair, Don Chan. I recognized his name from the emails he had sent to me approving my accreditation. He had stepped out to get something so she had to call him. I was offered a seat while I waited, and took the following high quality video, which I should have submitted to HIFF as a feature film.
Don was actually coming up already, so in less than a minute he arrived at the door. He gave his OK, and the lady proceeded to take my information down and wrote my name on the press pass. We had a little chat and Don explained to the lady about HIFF’s cooperation with Hawaii Pacific University. I received my press pass and went to go to the press conference.
Unfortunately, the elevator fiasco extended to the fourth floor as well. Once again, the walls did not have buttons, and I couldn’t find a button in the center. Oh no. I had a feeling this was going to be like that movie 1408 and that I was going to be stuck here, forever. It probably wouldn’t be as bad though, since the Sheraton Waikiki is a nice place. Knowing that the button was in the center the last time, I scrutinized the furniture in the center and looked carefully for an elevator button. Sure enough, it was hidden away in the center, but this time on the side of the stand. I called the elevator and was once again on my way to the Rumfire.
By this time the two bouncers had disappeared and now that I was armed with my credentials, I felt more confident and waltzed right in. To the left of me immediately after the entrance, I saw a big sign that said “HPU Check In”. On the table were a bunch of press passes for HPU students. Oops! I told the lady at the table what had happened and she walked me through HPU’s sign in process and gave me some more stuff, including a real pass that had my name and HPU typed on it. One thing I noticed was that my official pass was red and not blue like the passes upstairs. Additionally, there were no swag bags visible anywhere near the HPU check in table. I may be wrong, but I might have scored some free stuff that wasn’t intended for mere HPU press. Right on!
Armed with TWO passes now, I went into the Rumfire and sat down in one of the seats out for the press conference. There were already some reporters with camera crews who were working hard on setting up their ten thousand dollar bazooka cameras in time for the conference. I felt a little self conscious pulling out my cheapo digital camera, but I took a few pictures. Unfortunately, because I am an inexperienced photographer using a cheapo digital camera, most of the pictures were pretty bad.
While I was looking around for stuff to shoot I felt a tap on my shoulder: it was the lady from the HPU Check In table. She had come to take my handwritten pass so it could be used for others who were missing their pass. I kind of feel sorry for whoever wears the pass that has my scratched out name above theirs.
The room was starting to get crowded. Cameramen lined the side paths and were already taking pictures. One guy pulled out a camera with a massive lens and held down the trigger as he swept it across the room. The camera responded with a rapid series of clicks. I dubbed it: Squad Automatic Camera. All of a sudden, a voice boomed from the speakers and the reporters rushed to their seats. The Press Conference was about to start!