40 Years of Volunteers: Meet Festival Volunteer Janis Moore

Janis Moore joins fellow volunteers at Eccles Theatre for a group photo on Volunteer Appreciation Day at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Dedicated volunteers from across the country have generously devoted their time and commitment to the Sundance Film Festival over the last 40 years. Now, as we gear up for the 2024 Festival, we’re putting the spotlight on them with our volunteer questionnaire. Because, like our volunteers, each memory is special and unique. 

Janis Moore has always been a little introverted, but volunteering at the Sundance Film Festival for over two decades has brought out a different side of her. “I tend to be quiet and shy, but I have learned to be more outgoing and able to chat and interact with anyone.”  

A Park City local, Moore is gearing up for year 21 as a Sundance Film Festival volunteer, and no question, she has stories to tell from her time working at Eccles Theatre and Prospector Square Theatre. 

“Originally, I wanted to find out what the excitement was all about,” she recalls. “After that first year, I was hooked. It’s an experience like no other that you have to get involved in and be a part of to appreciate the energy and excitement.”

Below, discover some of Moore’s favorite memories as a Festival volunteer, including a surprise run-in with Robert Redford. 

Describe your first time volunteering. What did it feel like stepping into that role?

I was already an Eccles volunteer year-round, so my first Sundance [Festival] was similar to what I already knew about the assignments, except the atmosphere and excitement were elevated to a new level.

What compels you to continue volunteering year after year?

To this day, I truly love being a small part of the Sundance experience — the excitement, the unique and creative movies, the guests, and meeting and working with my fellow volunteers.

Why do you think volunteers are so important to the Festival? 

In many cases, we are the front line of encounters for the guests who come from all over the world to be a part of this adventure. Therefore, it’s important that we are happy, courteous, respectful, pleasant, and give a great first impression to all.

Tell us one of your favorite memories volunteering at Sundance.

I was assigned inside Eccles Theatre to guard the “entourage” door that exits into the hallway of the high school. Once the lights go out and the movie starts, no one is allowed in or out of that door (among other reasons, the light from the hallway floods the dark theater). The lights had gone out, the movie had started, and someone starts knocking on the door to get in. The knocking continued, and I just knew if I opened that door, I’d be fired, and that would be my last shift. I finally gave in to suffer the consequences and opened the door — there stood Robert Redford and a few of his folks. They quickly came in, watched a few minutes of the movie, and then quickly left through the same door. I’m always a stickler for following rules. I have never been so glad I decided to break that rule!

What do you think the best part about being a Sundance Film Festival volunteer is?

I enjoy people-watching and interacting with so many people from all over the world. I also enjoy using the vouchers to see documentaries and movies I normally wouldn’t go to.

Can you tell us about some of the friendships you’ve made at Sundance over the years?

My good friend, Sherry Onesko, talked me into volunteering in the first place so we could sign up for shifts and work together. We did every year until she retired in 2016. I wasn’t (and am still not) ready to retire and have continued to enjoy working Sundance by myself.

If you could go back in time and give advice to your younger self getting ready for your first year of volunteering, what would you say?

Be patient and kind to all no matter how angry they may be (it’s not personal), follow directions, happily perform every assignment given with a smile (some are always better than others), and above all else, enjoy every minute.

Out of all the staff/volunteer jackets you’ve received, which one is your favorite?

The black fleece jacket from 2003. I still have it and wear it. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a first-time volunteer at the festival?

Get out and enjoy every part of it you can: from walking up and down Main Street on opening weekend to using all your vouchers and just taking it all in.

Check back regularly for more volunteer stories leading up to the Festival this January. And if you’re interested in joining the team, check out our volunteer opportunities here.

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